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September 15, 2010

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Ummm ... you mean "middle class or better" right?

Car ownership is pretty expensive for many of the lower working class. I remember when I worked as a bagboy at a grocery store, a few of the recently employed other bagboys had to take the bus to work. Later, after they developed friendships with other employees, they would bum rides to and sometimes from work.

I'm not sure how they would fair today, with gas so expensive!

I'd say that you did a good job of poking holes through the yahoo "are you middle class list" :)

AJC --

Not sure what you're referring to...

FMF - you are right on every point. Obviously some idiot at yahoo was under the gun to churn out a crappy article

Car ownership is not as prevalent as you think. In large cities with well-developed public transportation systems, many people do not own vehicles. It is sometimes a matter of choice, but often a cost issue.

Re the "nice" vacations....

I've been surprised to find, over the years, that the people most likely to take an expensive vacation are either lower-middle or not quite middle class. I'm talking about $10K vacations like a cruise or going to Disneyworld on a package or to an all-expenses included Caribbean vacation

I'd hear about it from the women who were hairdressers, babysitters, secretaries, etc who had husbands either unemployed or sporadically employed in construction jobs (who they complained about all the time), and sometimes they had several kids also (who they complained they couldn't afford childcare for). Yes, they also told me they all went into debt to get that vacation. One family I know went to the Caribbean and a few months later got their only family car repossesed because they couldn't pay the car loan.

For them, taking a "fancy vacation" was a something they felt they deserved as an American, and especially if they had kids they said the kids "deserved" it too. They gave the same argument for spending on iphones, big TVs etc--other stuff that they couldn't afford. I think it made them feel like a member of the middle class for a few days. Sad.

The retirement one really popped out at me. Do they really think that the middle class has retirement security?

To me the middle class is a BS definition. It's about people that work a lot but spend a lot as well, go into tons of debt, and rely on government subsidies to get them through their middle and old age. I don't want to have any part of it...

Compared to over 95% of the world, even the least affluent among us are not middle class, they are rich! They have enough to eat every day, clothes to wear, TV to watch and a place to live. It seems to me that "Middle Class" is a moving target. As the standard of living improves, what is Middle Class moves upward also.

I agree with AZ Joe. Having been fortunate to travel extensively throughout the globe, the population in the US live at standards only the rich enjoy compared to the rest of the world.

Another point that makes the US different is that it provides the most mobility to move up the classes if one desires. No where else do you have the opportunity to move out of the lower class to the upper class with as much ease as America.

Personally this is very frustrating to see the spoiled mentality of our people when they have been given such opportunity. With some common sense and hard work one does not have to be poor in the US. But as Jesus said "you will always have the poor". This sounds harsh, but in most cases in the US poverty is a choice. My family lived below the poverty line growing up but managed what we had well. My friends who climbed out of poverty did it by hard work, and my lazy friends are still there.

I guess you can't be middle class and urban single according to this definition. I have no kids, no car and no house, so I'm disqualified? Seems to me the only way to measure middle class is income and/or networth. You can go on vacation and go into serious debt to do so, as others have pointed out.

What a waste of an article. The Yahoo writer is certainly out of touch.

@FMF-agree with you on all points but one and that's the car ownership.

The important word is ownership. Not paying on. Not lease. Not charged card.

I think this list is pretty much spot on. Except I doubt most people have true retirement security. If you can't say yes to all these things then you are probably low income. If you fit most of these points then you're likely middle class or better.

They also should have pointed out that many if not most of the middle class often lives beyond their means.

Obviously there are some exceptions. Some people rent by choice. Rich people in NYC may rent and be carless. etc.

Oddly enough I think lack of health insurance is a sign of lower middle class - its that weird hole where you make too much qualify for government assistance, and not enough to pay for private insurance. I do know people without cars because owning a car is cost-prohibitive to them. Depending on the state, car insurance can be 50 or 60 / month.

A college education for the kids is more of what is a "middle class value" - it is when you expect it of your kids, instead of it being something that seems out of reach. Its a luxury to save for college and retirement when you are struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis. Much of being middle class means that day to day struggle is gone, and you have the luxury to plan ahead beyond the next bill.

No, not every poor person owns a car. I don't. Many of my poor friends don't either (and we're not the "poorest of the poor").

I think the article seems pretty right-on about what "middle-class" is, or perhaps what "Upper-middle-class" is.

Automobile ownership is definitely the silliest one. I'm single, no kids, earn a six-figure income just for myself, but living in New York City, I don't really think it would make financial sense to buy a car. In the nice neighborhoods in Manhattan owning your own car that you park on the island is quite an extravagant luxury. I would guess that even a fair number of the millionaires around here do not own a car.

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