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Am I Really In The Working Class? Ruminating On The Middle And Other Social Classes

I Just Re-categorized Myself Out of the Middle Class!

I’ve come to this conclusion because after thinking I understand what middle class is, and what it takes to be a member of it, lately I’ve changed my mind because now I’m not so sure.  Typically, my mind changes when I’m doing something mundane like mowing the lawn.  I’m behind the mower and WHAM, I think “Hey, I’m not really middle class, instead I’m more within the working class, and here’s why…“.  My mind is evil that way, continuously raining on my parade!

To backup my new reclassification, I reference Felix Dennis, who believes that I’m not even comfortable poor!  Under his definition, you need 2 to 4 million to be within the range of comfortably poor, thus meaning that I’m “uncomfortably poor“.  The more I think about it, the more his argument makes sense to me!

Why I May Not Belong To The Middle Class

  1. History!  Since we are a newer country than most, we have to look at Europe and England in particular for a more true definition of what being in the Middle Class means.  According to them, the middle class of yesteryear were rich merchants but not in the nobility class.  Some of the merchants of the middle Class were even richer than the aristocrats.  You see, to them (England in particular) the middle class isn’t the same as middle wage earners.  So in their society, the new rich are more in the middle class than the nobility that fell upon hard times.  Since I’m not rich, perhaps I’m not in this group!  I’m sure if I lived in England, I wouldn’t be considered Middle Class.
  2. I must work for money or else my family goes hungry.  Since I have to work, doesn’t that naturally put me in the “Working Class“?
  3. I don’t have one million dollars in net worth yet!  So if I were forced to live on all my assets invested in stocks or/and bonds, I would be below the poverty level for a family of four.
  4. I don’t have any power in my community.  In my town, when I talk, nobody listens or at least goes out of their way to do so.  Now if I had money to support local community goals, then people would listen, or if I created special events that benefit my local community, then people would listen.

Perhaps I Am in the Middle Class?

  1. I have a college education, and advanced training
  2. My net worth is much higher than average for even the middle class category.  This is from years of being frugal and investing.
  3. I usually go on a nice vacation (at least one or two a year).
  4. My kids are in sport and will probably go to college without paying anything or taking out a loan.
  5. I’m in a continual state of learning.
  6. I have power within my small social groups, where  my ideas are listened to and sometimes acted out.  This is true among my friends and work peers.
  7. I look middle class…

Or Am I Upper Middle Class… (not)?

Nope, I’m not even close to being in the category!  Actually, I use to fancy myself being on the line between middle and upper middle classes.  However, if examined my salary, I’m close to making an Upper Middle Class salary (according to some measures anyway).  As for education, I only have a bachelors degree, but as I mentioned before, I’m in a continual state of learning.

I’m a home owner and I’m totally debt free.  My kids have some of the finer things (my son recently got a ipod touch and soon will get a cell phone).  We go on nice trips for vacations and mini-vacations.

Even with all of the points above, I know that I fall short in this group, so I won’t waste anymore time thinking about it, perhaps in future.  Check out my financial pyramid for the way I define my progress…

So in the end, I guess it’s how I look at what I do and what I am.  One could argue that I’m a member of all of the social classes: Working Class, Middle Class and possible the Upper Middle Class (again this is stretching it).

For more great reading material on this subject, check out Roshawn’s brilliantly written article called “The Impossible Question: Just Who Is The Middle Class?” about why it’s so hard to determine who is in the middle class and not!

Thanks for ruminating with me!

MR

23 Responses to Am I Really In The Working Class? Ruminating On The Middle And Other Social Classes

  1. I don’t know MR, you might find you are in the upper class since so many Americans have foreclosed or walked away from their mortgages. Comparatively speaking, I bet that you are doing better than most, and you are still young!

    Revel in your success while mowing the lawn.

    • I use to think that I was approaching upper middle class status until I read the big about England a while back. The fact that I have to go to work every workday makes me now believe that I’m definitely part of the working class too. I need to get busy making some money somehow :)

  2. It is always difficult to self-assess where you stand and a touchy subject to many. It always helps to remind yourself where you are successful as well as areas you can improve. It can also be helpful and constructive for your personal stability to be content with whichever social class you associate with. Those are my thoughts anyway. :)

    • I’m optimistic, so I’m happy with whatever class I’m in.

      When I was younger, I’d say I was poor, then I got a job at 15 and I was working class (unionized too), then I became middle class after I graduated from college and got a job. And now I don’t know. If you follow the tend in the US, I’m middle or upper middle class.

      I guess once I have my own business and it supports me I’ll consider myself fully middle class. From other non-financial measures, I’ve been middle class since I was born.

      It’s all good :)

  3. Wow interesting post. You got me wondering what class I am in. I guess I am in all three too. I am in the working class because I do need to work everyday. I am in the middle class because I have the money to save and invest and have some fun- I have enough money to cover my basic needs and the extras. I could be in the upper middle class in the sense that I can afford to live in a great neighbourhood, own a nice house, and I have a great salary. It is really hard to put ourselves in a box.

  4. It probably doesn’t matter, but your article shows mobility of classes. Something which was not possible in Europe long a go. Before you know it, people will be listening to your community and you will run for political office. :)

  5. I just received some visitors from this post, and didn’t even know you wrote it! (I hadn’t returned to blogging yet). Great post!

    Yes, it’s certainly VERY difficult to define who is the middle class. Everyone claims that it’s them, and at least 30% are probably being genuine :)

    BTW, I LOVE the book that you reference. Cheers!

  6. Great post! Since I met you, when I was reading this I could easily visualize your realization face while mowing the lawn:).

    I’m not sure where we reside because I’ve never given it much thought. Hmmm…perhaps a post idea???

    • lol,

      It was incredible meeting everybody huh! It funny how meeting someone face to face can change your perspective on and entire article :)

      Meeting Eric from Narrow Bridges did that for me. I knew he was a good writer, but meeting him was incredible. He’s much cooler than I even imagined.

      You were kind of a surprise too, I knew you were a great, sweet person, but the degree to which you were blew me out of the water!

      If you do post about it, I would love to read your response! I always had the idea that I was borderline upper middle class, but according to the UK definition, I’m not even close! Even middle class is a stretch since I still have to work for a living…

      It was fun, mind bending post for me :)