Yeah, I know, it a funny title “Lower Upper Middle Class“, but it’s the closest representation to a socioeconomic class that I could come up with to represent my current state.
So what does it mean to be “Lower Upper Middle Class”?
I like to think of it as being at a party where there are two connected but different rooms. Room 1 is where my middle class friends are talking, and I’m mostly in this room. Room 2 is where some of my Upper Middle Class friends and even family members are talking about topics I want to hear. While I want to join the conversations with my friends in Room 2, my friends in room 1 and room 2 don’t get along. So I’m standing in the doorway of room 1 and 2 acknowledging some of my friends in room 2 and desperately trying to listen to what they are saying, while hanging out talking to my friends in Room 1 at the same time.
I guess in some ways, I don’t really belong to either room. You seem, I’m still in a metamorphose phase where I’m trying to grow my money to a level that I can participate in more Upper Middle Class Activities without decreasing my net worth, while at the same time try to resist spending money and time on some of the things that my middle class friends are spending money on. I’m pretty much in the proverbial “Catch 22” stage in my financial life right now.
Okay, now that I explained the feeling of “Lower Upper Middle Class“, what are the other points of interest that I perceive about my current stage?
- Vacations: I can afford to go on better and more vacations, including vacations overseas, but I don’t. I want to establish a more secure financial footing before I take that leap. For me it’s important that I don’t spend money, which in effect will decrease my wealth. This is where a dividend strategy comes in to play. Read how I’m doing such a strategy for my lunches at work via my article about Dividend Lunch Experiment. So for the time being, all my vacations are local to the US.
- Community Activities: We do community activities now, especially my wife where she volunteers and does charity work for the Schools and community in general. I hope to expand my role in this area too, but for now I continually try to think of ways to better my financial picture.
- Paying for College for the Kids: This is one of the many drains I have on my paycheck. I want to fully fund my kid’s college costs. This will give them a huge head start in life. Both of my kids are doing great in school, and I’m hoping the get scholarships of some sort.
- House Hunting: Currently I’m mortgage free, but I want to up-size to a larger house. Since I’m deal oriented and picky, I’ll be looking for a long time. I hope the rates stay low for a long time too. It’s funny, I can afford a more expensive house, but I choose not to. Perhaps if I had just a bit more money I would take the plunge and buy a dream home…
- Eating Out: This is one area that we splurge. We go out 2 or 3 times a week to a decent restaurant, but usually it’s a chain restaurant like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chinese or Mexican restaurants too. But by large margin, we go to Panera restaurant the most. Healthy food, but affordable for the most part. (Healthy, in that I usually get the Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado, yum!).
- Cashflow constrained: Although my house is paid off, I redirect the freed up money to my 401k, Roth IRA and ESPP options. All three are great, but my take home pay doesn’t go very far. I’m especially proud that I participate in the ESPP plan at work, because it’s a great money hack that makes me a few extra thousand in free money, and is a forced saving mechanism. How cool is that! Read this clever way that I’m using my ESPP to fund my Roth IRA.
- Fashion: The entire house buys better close, with the exception of me. I don’t mind though, I need to polish my look by losing extra weight anyway.
- Entertainment: We do go to the movies to see interesting looking movies, but mostly we just wait until the movies come out on DVD. We do other things too, and this will continue to expand as I develop a strategy (more than likely dividends) to fund more adventures in entertainment.
Okay, I’ve just scratched the surface on what it’s like to be “Lower Upper Middle Class”, but it’s already past midnight, so I’m going to say good night!