Home Business 40 Signs That Reveal Someone Is Middle Class

40 Signs That Reveal Someone Is Middle Class

MJ Staff July 12, 2023

When you think of “middle class,” you may assume the vast majority of people in the United States. But according to the Pew Research Center, the middle class is getting smaller. In 2016, just 52% of Americans made enough money to be considered “middle class.” Sadly, 29% of Americans now sit in the lower class, while 19% are upper class. To be regarded as middle class, the collective household income needs to be between $78,442 and $172,152 per year. However, some studies claim that the actual median household income is closer to $53,000. It just depends on where you live. In many ways, being middle class is more than how much money you make. It’s a lifestyle and a culture.

Some people are proud to call themselves “middle class” because at least it means they’re not poor. Many of them had to fight to escape poverty, especially after being shackled with student loan debt. Others are ashamed and try to pretend that they are part of that smaller upper class. So, you might be wondering- Can people tell that you’re middle class? We broke down 40 signs of why they may be able to. Keep reading to learn more about things that reveal your class status.

Do you work out at home using your own at-home exercise equipment? Credit: Shutterstock

40. Owning At-Home Exercise Equipment

Many people who have a middle-class lifestyle own exercise equipment at home. That may include an exercise bike, a treadmill, weights, a yoga mat, or any number of things that can be used to get the heart pumping and the body moving without leaving the front door. People who are middle class recognize the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, and they are willing to invest in those things. The problem is that the at-home exercise equipment often goes unused, or mainly not being used for exercise and becoming a rack for laying clothes on.

Most middle-class people have this same habit. Credit: Shutterstock

Owning at-home exercise equipment is an indicator of a certain level of wealth and status, and many people who buy it are not seriously intending to use it. They may plan to use it at first, but they do not already have an exercise regimen that is disciplined enough to use it every day for years. They may also have a gym membership that they pay for every month but rarely use as if buying the gym membership alone is enough to promote health and well-being. Poor people cannot afford these things, and wealthy people take the time every day to exercise. They do not buy exercise equipment as a sign of status but rather as a way of getting the exercise they need every day.

Have you tried recent fads like avocado toast or charcoal toothpaste? Credit: Shutterstock

39. Jumping On The Latest Health Fad

Acai berries, charcoal toothpaste, celery juice, kombucha tea, the keto diet. In general, the United States and the Western world have no shortage of health fads that fade just as quickly as they come. Every health fad promises to completely turn your life around by giving you more energy, focus, et cetera. These health fads are marketed as shortcuts to better health and well-being, and they turn into big money for the companies that promote them. Why? Because for many people, especially in the middle class, following these health fads is a way of showing status more than actual improved health.

The keto diet might not be the best thing for you. Credit: Shutterstock

Let’s face it; health fads are expensive. They are way more expensive than a healthy lifestyle that includes many whole foods, exercise, and healthy relationships with the people we love. But what status is there to be found in love and healthy relationships? However, showing up at the office with a plastic cup of celery juice from the local health-food store is a way of flaunting to your peers that you have money to throw away on these fads. The expectation may be that people begin assuming that you take health very seriously and are willing to invest heavily in it and have the money to put your health first. But a truly healthy lifestyle is not expensive while health fads actually are.

How many people do you follow on Facebook, Instagram, and other social medial platforms? Credit: Shutterstock

38. Following Social Media Influencers

Many people in the middle class are always looking for approval and validation, so they try to keep up with pop culture so that they can talk fluently with other people about what is happening in celebrities’ worlds. After all, if you know so much about celebrities and their lifestyles, then surely you must be in league with them. The same goes for social media influencers, people with massive followings on online platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. They are just ordinary people who have created a brand around themselves that provides a lot of popularity.

From doing makeup to building tables, there are tons of people you can follow. Credit: Shutterstock

Nevertheless, many people tend to believe that associating themselves with those who have achieved this kind of popularity will add to their own likeability and status. Those in the middle class tend to spend a lot of time following celebrities and influencers, much more time than those who are poor and simply do not have the luxury to whittle away hours on social media. Those who are wealthy do not waste their time following celebrities and influencers because they are too busy building up their own lives and their own brands. If you want to become like those influencers that you are following, then stop following them and start doing something meaningful with your time.

Owning these types of products is common among middle-class families. Credit: Shutterstock

37. Having A NutriBullet and A Veggie Spiralizer

NutriBullets are blenders that are marketed to health-conscious people who have some expendable income to spend on health fads. They can’t do anything that a regular blender cannot do, except that the blender cups are single-serving that you can drink out of it right away. The premium price tag means that the NutriBullet saves you from having to perform the arduous task of pulling out a cup and pouring the contents of the blender into it. The smoothies that you make in a NutriBullet are not any more nutritious than those that you would make out of a secondhand blender from a thrift store, but people who are middle class are much more willing to spend hundreds of dollars on the NutriBullet.

Brands market these types of products to specific people. Credit: Shutterstock

However, the real problem is that since NutriBullet blenders are just a status symbol for many people, they are not using these appliances. The same goes with veggie spiralizers, which can turn vegetables like zucchini and squash into noodles. Vegetable-based noodles are much healthier than noodles made from wheat, but having a veggie spiralizer does not mean that you are using it to make these noodles. It’s often a status symbol for people in the middle class. They are buying things to flaunt their wealth even though they have no intention of using these.

Dyson products are great and are often found in middle-class homes. Credit: Shutterstock

36. Owning Dyson Products

There’s nothing wrong with Dyson products as they are of excellent quality. The issue is that many people who earn a middle-class income spend their money on these high-end appliances that they really can’t afford, simply because they think that Dyson products are impressive for other people to see. How cool is it for your neighbors or friends to visit and see you are cooling your living room with a fan that doesn’t have any blades and also doesn’t make noise? Or to have an air purifier that costs hundreds of dollars and traps not only odors but also tiny particles including germs?

Do you own any of these Dyson products? Credit: Shutterstock

The problem is that Dyson products are often nothing more than status symbols, and buying them can cause people to end up in debt because they had to use credit. The best option is to stick with generic brands that may not convey wealth and status but can still keep your home clean and healthy. Saving for high-end luxury products, such as Dyson appliances, before you buy them will help you make sure that you live within your means instead of overspending to impress friends. You can also look to buy them used.

Online subscriptions are all the craze among the middle class. Credit: Shutterstock

35. Subscribe To Wine Clubs

Wine clubs offer tempting means for people to appear wealthier than they are. You pay a certain amount of money each month to have a wine connoisseur send you a package of high-quality wines that are sure to impress the neighbors or coworkers at an office party. The problem is that you don’t know if you will even like those wines, and they often cost more through the wine club because a wine expert is selecting them. You can get high-quality wine for much cheaper just by going to a local store, and the person working behind the counter probably knows just as much as the experts at the wine club.

There are multiple subscription clubs available based on the hobby. Credit: Shutterstock

Genuinely wealthy people do not bother subscribing to wine clubs because they already know what kinds of wine they like and don’t like. They don’t need an expert to pick things out for them and tell them what they should and shouldn’t drink. Also, those who make $30,000 a year or less are so busy trying to make ends meet that they cannot afford the luxury of subscribing to a service that sends them hand-picked wines every month. A subscription to a wine club is a reliable indicator that someone is middle class and possibly that that person is just trying to flaunt their money.

If you have a clothing box you receive in the mail, you might be middle class. Credit: Shutterstock

34. Subscribing To Clothing Service

Clothing services have become pretty popular in recent years. You provide your size and a general idea of your style preferences, and a “personal shopper” selects a box of clothes to send to you every month. You determine which clothes you want to keep and which ones to send back. The “personal shopper” is just someone who knows what size to pick out and goes through and selects things that they think you may like (but you may not). Some of these clothing services capitalize on people’s desire to buy secondhand clothes that are better for the environment and end up sending subscribers items that are hardly fit for a thrift store.

Some of these pieces are cute, but they are not very practical. Credit: Shutterstock

You’re much better off going to a store, selecting clothes for yourself, and trying them on to see if they fit. Investing in clothes that you know you’ll like instead of paying a personal shopper every month is a much better use of your money and will ensure that you have the clothes you need. Wealthy people do not really even bother with these kinds of services. One reason is that they are not continually buying new clothes; they may have far fewer clothes than those who are middle class, but they have the clothes they like and need.

Although these meals can be helpful, it might reflect your status. Credit: Shutterstock

33. Subscribing To Meal Services

Meal services have also become very popular in recent years. The idea is that a company sends you a box of ingredients and recipe cards and you cook the recipes at home. The recipes are often very high quality, as are the ingredients. The same goes for the price tag. For the price of one meal through these services, you could go out to a gourmet restaurant. However, many people who are middle class subscribe to these meal services because of the status that they offer. If you can afford to pay $15 for a meal for one that you cook at home, then surely you must be a wealthy person who has money to burn.

Have you tried any of these meal subscriptions? Credit: Shutterstock

People who are wealthy live well within their means, often below their means, to save money every month. You can live within your means by selecting recipes and then going to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. Sure, you’ll have to measure the portions yourself, but you will dramatically cut your food bill by buying your own groceries and cooking from home. And yes, meal services offer exotic recipes that you would not ordinarily try, but there are plenty of recipes that you can find online. If the ingredients are not at your local grocery store, you can easily order them without paying the premium for a meal delivery service.

Some people show too much privilege when dining out, instead of being respectful. Credit: Shutterstock

32. Acting Rude Towards Waitstaff

For some reason, some people think that being rude to people who work blue-collar service jobs somehow elevates them and makes them look better. They complain to their waiters and waitresses at restaurants and sometimes even complain with the restaurant manager, putting the waitstaff’s job in jeopardy, when there was nothing wrong with the service. There is no excuse for being rude to a waiter or waitress. And if you think that not leaving a tip is an excellent way to prove your point, you’re wrong. Waitstaff often make about two dollars an hour and earn most of their wages from the tips on every table that they attend to.

Be nice when you go out to eat, and tip your server. Credit: Shutterstock

If the service was terrible, don’t go to that restaurant again. But being rude to others in society is not a sign of status. It doesn’t make you a better person, and it doesn’t make other people think that you are likable and have money to burn, it makes you a jerk. Poor people often work in these service jobs and understand the psychological harm caused by rude people, so they are especially kind to those who wait on their tables. And truly wealthy people know that you can never get ahead in life by stepping on other people, especially people who make less than minimum wage.

Are you paid hourly or salary? Credit: Shutterstock

31. Earning $50,000 to $100,000 Per Year

There are several ways of determining if a person is middle class. One is lifestyle, as there is a particular lifestyle that middle-class people aspire to, even when they can’t afford it. They are looking for status and a means of showing other people that they have become successful instead of saving money and spending time bettering themselves. But another, of course, is income. If you do not make enough money, then you simply cannot flaunt any kind of wealth. You are too busy working two or three jobs so that you can afford groceries and keep your children fed.

Where you fall in the tax bracket will define your class status. Credit: Shutterstock

Another way of measuring if someone is middle class is by income. People who make roughly $50,000 to $100,000 per year can be considered middle class because they do make enough money that they don’t have to worry about buying groceries. However, they do not make enough money that they can afford a membership to the country club. Perhaps the best way of identifying middle class is through mindset. You can earn $50,000 a year but spend as if you believe you are a millionaire. Or you can make $50,000 a year, live well below your means, gradually build up wealth, build up your job resume, move to something that pays better, and ultimately become a millionaire.

Is your car payment your second biggest bill, next to your rent or mortgage? Credit: Shutterstock

30. Owning A Car They Can’t Afford

In the United States, we care a lot about cars. Whatever you drive becomes a status symbol and says a lot about you as a person. That puts pressure on people to get a nicer car. Public transportation is typically set aside for the poor. Even when people in the middle class need a ride, they often opt for ride-share apps like Uber instead of taking the bus or train. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is not sustainable for many people in the middle class. According to a report by The Washington Post, more than 7 million American people have fallen behind three months or more on their car payments.

Most people in the middle class will be approved for an auto loan. Credit: Shutterstock

In November of 2019, CBS This Morning investigated the situation and found that the vast majority of these cars repossessed are new, American-made trucks and SUVs, instead of used ones. It means that the middle class tends to overspend on their monthly car payment for the sake of appearance. Someone who is savvier with their money would either buy a used car or pay far less for a car made by a foreign manufacturer from countries like Japan and Korea. If you can afford to keep your car, you’re doing well compared to many other people.

Some people pretend to be rich, even if they’re middle class. Credit: Shutterstock

29. Pretending To Be Upper Class

A lot of middle-class people aspire to be rich. They want to drive a brand new car, live in a big house, and wear nice clothes to feel like they live the same lifestyle as a wealthy person. When someone asks how much money they make, they might lie and inflate their income to be more than it is. To them, having a lot of money is how they measure success. Many of these “fake rich” people are always worried about how they will pay for their bills to keep up with their lavish lifestyle.

There are plenty of middle-class people with an expensive car they can’t actually afford. Credit: Shutterstock

Wealthy people were able to grow wealth because they were smart with money and lived within their means. Many real millionaires don’t care about looking rich because they care too much about their business. They often buy their clothes and other items on sale because frugality was part of how they built up their wealth. They also don’t try to flaunt their wealth to other people and often, at least at first glance, appear to be very average people with very average lifestyles. But because they have been smart with their money, they can afford the things they want instead of worrying about buying the things that will impress other people.

Most people in the middle class cannot afford an emergency. Credit: Shutterstock

28. In An Emergency They Would Need Money

According to The Atlantic, 47% of all Americans do not have $400 in cash ready to pay for an emergency. Even if someone is making a decent amount of money with a middle-class job, they have built up a lifestyle where they live paycheck to paycheck. If something happens where they needed last-minute cash, they would have to resort to putting it on a credit card. That doesn’t have to be a medical emergency that keeps them out of work for months; something as simple as needing new car tires could spend their finances spiraling and cause them to fall behind on their bills.

Someone in the middle class may have to apply for a loan to help keep them afloat. Credit: Shutterstock

That is a dangerous position to put yourself in because all it takes is losing your job or one terrible emergency to derail you completely. Everyone should try to save enough money to pay for three months of expenses if they lost their job and needed time to transition to a new one. On the bright side, at least this person in the middle class likely has a good enough credit score to qualify for a loan. But truly wealthy people have ample savings because they have not built up a lifestyle that merely flaunts how much money they have. If a rainy day should come, they may have to make some sacrifices but will not risk going bankrupt.

Millennials have more student loan debt than any other generation. Credit: Shutterstock

27. They Have A College Degree (And Lots of Debt)

According to author and anthropologist Caitlin Zaloom, the struggle to pay off student loan debt has become so common among the middle class that it is now a definable trait for the rest of human history. In her book Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost, Zaloom goes over how difficult student loans make the lives of middle-class people. In 2018, college enrollment for children who grew up in lower-income families had gone up. However, many of them end up dropping out because they cannot afford to pay for tuition. Instead of being overly optimistic, the lower-class is more realistic about the consequences the burden of debt could have on their lives.

The middle class is weighed down by student loan debt. Credit: Shutterstock

What middle-class families have not been paying enough attention to is the benefit of vocational school instead of a four-year degree. While a four-year degree is the best option for some people, it does not always lead to a lucrative job. However, a vocational school can lead to a job that pays well over $60,000 per year with a year of training. Being a plumber or a refrigerator repair person may be less glamorous than getting a liberal arts degree, but guess who will be the first person to afford a mortgage because he or she isn’t loaded down with student loans that have to be paid back?

A lot of people drive Uber for some extra cash. Credit: Shutterstock

26. They Need A Side Hustle

We’re living in the side-hustle generation. Plenty of Millennials work a second job as an Uber driver or sell online with eBay or Etsy. While some people are proud of their hustle, the sad reality is that many of us are suffering from burnout. According to Bankrate, 45% of Americans say that they have a side hustle. Out of those who work multiple jobs, 3 out of 10 people admit that if it were not for their second (or third) income, they would not be able to pay the bills. As time goes on, side-hustles are becoming the new norm for the middle class.

It is common for people with multiple side hustles to experience burnout. Credit: Shutterstock

Many of these side hustles pay for credit card bills and lavish spending on things that people do not need. And what happens is that not only do the people working two or more jobs get so burned out that they have mental health problems, but they cannot spend time with their children who need parental attention. The whole family suffers because of how much the parents want to flaunt wealth that they do not have. True wealth begins with living within your means and consists of spending time with the people you love, not working so many hours every week that you do not have time for the people who matter the most.

Starbucks is expensive, especially if you make it a habit. Credit: Shutterstock

25. Going To Starbucks

There is a huge stereotype that millennials go to Starbucks far too often. Some people get offended by this assumption, but most stereotypes have at least a grain of truth to them. According to statistics, 37.8 million Americans have visited Starbucks at least once in the last 30 days. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a pumpkin spice latte or a caramel Frappuccino once in a while, going to Starbucks regularly and paying $5 for a cup of coffee. However, you can brew for 50 cents will bust your budget before realizing that you spent $150 in one month. On plain, black coffee.

Starbucks targets wealthy neighborhoods for their new store locations. Credit: Shutterstock

That is not entirely the fault of the consumer. Starbucks also has a location strategy where it will only build a store in a neighborhood full of people that make at least $50,000 to $70,000 per year. This income bracket is the sweet spot because it is full of people who want to prove that they can afford a lavish lifestyle, even though they need to be saving money for emergencies. They seem to stay away from more poverty-stricken towns, even if they do get a lot of foot traffic. Most poor people do not drink Starbucks simply because they can’t afford it.

Most middle-class people can pay their bills on time. Credit: Shutterstock

24. They Can Pay Their Bills On Time

Most middle-class people can afford to pay their bills each month. When surveyed, 84% of people claimed that they had no problems paying rent, utilities, and all of the other responsibilities that come along with adulthood. Typically, they will pay their bills as soon as they get a paycheck. It’s only after the expenses are paid that they may make bad financial decisions. Sadly, many people closer to the poverty line struggle to pay their bills. They may go months without paying a bill, even if it is destroying their credit score. The lower class is the first to stop services like Netflix for a month.

The middle class pays bills on time. Credit: Shutterstock

The problems begin after the necessary bills are paid. Keep in mind that if you make your minimum payment on your credit card, you technically do have all of your accounts paid, but the interest on that credit card is still accruing and pulling you deeper and deeper into debt. Some people think that because the bills are already paid, they can put more unnecessary purchases on the credit card because they feel like paying their bills means they are doing well financially. Instead, they need to include putting money into savings as one of their bills instead of making unnecessary purchases that they cannot afford.

The middle class is obsessed with the lives of celebrities. Credit: Shutterstock

23. They Care About Celebrities

You can tell a lot about someone’s socioeconomic status by how much they care about celebrity culture. Middle-class people tend to look up to rich and famous people, at least in part because they want to live vicariously through the people whose faces constantly show up in the magazine aisle at the grocery store. If their favorite celebrities are wearing a certain clothing trend or buying a certain health product, they will try to get on the train and start doing the same thing. One might think that instead of meeting their own needs and living their own lives, these people are just trying to imitate the people around them.

The average woman will care a lot about who is dating who. Credit: Shutterstock

People who are already rich do not care as much about the lives of celebrities. To them, these are just other people who worked hard for their money and position in life. Those who have worked hard to earn their money and get to a high station in life did not do so by copying other people and trying to live vicariously through someone who has already attained wealth and prestige. They have no need or desire to follow celebrities because they have charted the course of their own lives and are perfectly happy just the way that they are.

Being overly concerned with labels may reveal your actual status. Credit: Shutterstock

22. Showing Off Designer Brands

We already mentioned how middle-class people love to feel rich. They are some of the first ones to go after designer name brands. That is especially true for brands like Coach, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade. In the United States, Louis Vuitton is another recognizable logo, but it’s often too expensive for someone in the middle class. Wearing designer brands is a means of flaunting wealth that people do not have; most people who wear designer brands cannot afford to pay for them. They may buy these clothes with credit cards or instead of putting money into savings, and some even convince themselves that designer-brand clothes are a good investment in the future because they will lead to a better job.

Are you obsessed with designer names like Louis Vuitton? Credit: Shutterstock

But employers do not decide whom to hire based on the clothing brand that a person is wearing. It may come as a surprise to some people that the rich don’t wear many flashy designer brands. They are usually conservative. If they are a rich person who dresses ostentatiously, it’s a dead giveaway that they are “new rich.” Some great examples of the new rich who sport their favorite brands are rappers, football players, and Youtubers. People who truly cannot afford to wear designer brands should either buy them used on places like eBay or stick with clothes within the price range they can afford.

Job security is harder to come by since the Great Recession. Credit: Burst by Shopify

21. They Have a Secure Job

Most people in the middle class put a lot of pride in sculpting the perfect resume. They make sure they can find a secure full-time job with benefits. And if they begin to feel uneasy about the future of a company, they might start going on interviews to find a new position. Ensuring they are constantly employed is very important to someone in the middle class because they need to keep working to maintain their lifestyle. They cannot afford to stop working for even a day because they often have no savings and will not be able to survive any disruption to their finances.

People in the middle class look for job security. Credit: Shutterstock

People in the upper class are a mixed bag. They might have an incredibly secure job, but more often than not, they are willing to take more risks. Even in some of the highest-level careers, there can be high turnover. Consider just how many CEOs lost their jobs in 2019, and it’s easy to see that just because you’re making millions doesn’t mean a job is secure. But since they are willing to take risks, they seem to make a lot more. Not that you should do something stupid that could risk you losing your job because you think you’ll be able to get a better one but don’t be afraid to be on the lookout for a better job.

Fake purses can sometimes be bought on the streets of certain cities. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Wearing Knockoff Clothes

We already mentioned how middle-class people love to wear designer brands to show off to their friends. Sometimes, they might even resort to buying fake versions of these items. To them, it doesn’t matter if the quality of the purse or accessory is terrible. They just want to appear to be rich enough to buy Gucci or Louis Vuitton. There’s a crazy statistic that 90% of all Louis Vuitton items you see in the United States are fake. Whether or not this is true, knock-off versions of name brands are almost always very poor quality, and the only thing remotely attractive about them is that they carry a brand label. But spotting knockoffs that someone is wearing can be very easy.

A huge pile of fake bags. Credit: Shutterstock

Wealthy people would never buy a fake designer clothing item because they are usually of very poor quality. They can tell almost immediately if something is not real because they will know the available styles. Anyone who loves fashion can tell if something looks off. The person who is wearing a fake item is immediately classified as “middle class.” Instead, truly wealthy people invest in high-quality clothes that they can afford and that they can wear over and over again, not to impress people but only so that they can look and feel their best every day.

Reality TV captures the lives of normal people in interesting circumstances. Credit: Shutterstock

19. They Watch Reality TV

Years ago, the family sitcom was all the rage with Americans. But nowadays, there is nothing more realistic than reality itself. According to statistics gathered by The Wrap, middle-class people love watching primetime reality TV series. The Bachelor, Ninja Warrior, MasterChef, and American’s Got Talent were some of the top picks among households that earned between $60,000 to $75,000 per year. While there may be nothing wrong with reality television per se, often, people watch these shows as a means of vicariously living through the people participating in them to escape from their own lives. What is far more productive is to have an interesting life that you love and to invest in that life every day.

People love to be shocked by the drama of reality TV. Credit: Shutterstock

People in the lower class watch shows like watching reality TV, but they prefer shows like Maury, Jerry Springer, and Judge Judy. These shows are filled with drama, fights, and screaming matches. According to a research firm called Frank N. Magid Associates, 40% of people who watch daytime TV make less than $20,000, with a household income of less than $30,000. On top of that, 85% of these viewers do not have a college degree. Rich people, on the other hand, read more than they watch television. They may enjoy a movie once in a while and watch the evening news, but they spent time with people they love for entertainment.

No one likes to hear you brag. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Name Dropping

People in the middle and lower class wish they could meet a celebrity. That is why many of them pay a lot of money to stand in line at fan conventions like ComicCon. As soon as they meet this person, the photo immediately goes to Instagram or Facebook even though it was a shallow interaction. If they visit a place full of celebrities, such as New York City or Los Angeles, they may keep their cameras ready to snap a picture of a celebrity they may see. For years to come, they decide to name-drop the fact that they “met” this famous person. But if you ask the celebrity, he or she will not even remember that person.

Some people use name dropping for clout. Credit: Shutterstock

Upper-middle-class to upper-class people tend to name drop far less often for many reasons. They may work with someone who is a public figure and realize that celebrities are human too. So they don’t see it as being a big deal that they know someone famous. The more comfortable they become with knowing public figures. They understand that these people value their privacy, so they may not even mention that they met someone famous. At the same time, they don’t want people to be name-dropping them because they have their own lives and want their privacy to be respected.

People in the middle class have the ability to save for a rainy day. Credit: Shutterstock

17. They Could Save – If They Tried

We have already mentioned that most people in the middle class do not have enough money saved for an emergency. However, they should be making enough money to save for a rainy day if they cut back on their spending. That is where all of those “money-saving tips” you read online comes in. They could choose to cut back on their spending, starting with those pricey cups of coffee at Starbucks and by choosing not to trade in their perfectly well-running two-year-old car for a brand-new model. Other things that could easily go are eating out multiple times a week and constantly buying new clothes that they don’t need and cannot afford.

Some people struggle with saving money. Credit: Shutterstock

There are many reasons people struggle with saving. They might be procrastinators, or they might have way too much student loan debt for them to handle. They may also be hung up on needing to impress other people that they cannot entertain the idea of spending less to prepare for the future. And for some people, the thought of the future itself is so overwhelming that they cannot even consider planning for it. Even though it would be challenging, anyone above the poverty line can make lifestyle changes to set money aside for emergencies.

Some people thrive on their social media following. Credit: Shutterstock

16. They Seek Validation On Social Media

Middle-class people use social media every single day. They are the ones frequently updating their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. It’s a way to interact with their friends, but it’s also a way for them to measure their own value. Between followers and likes, it’s hard not to compare those numbers to your friends and family. But those comparisons that people make on social media, comparing their “likes” to those of other people and trying to get the greatest picture on Instagram, is no way to create real happiness and have been proven to be the thief of real and lasting joy. True joy comes from relationships, and people need to look to healthy relationships for validation rather than social media.

Plenty of Millennials are glued to their phones waiting to interact with friends online. Credit: Shutterstock

Rich people do not need social media to feel validated. They realize that the number of “likes” you have doesn’t matter at the end of the day unless you’re using those accounts for marketing purposes. The upper class has worked on their own lives so much that they have confidence from within. However, they do leverage social media to further their brand because they realize how much marketing today depends on networking with people through platforms like Facebook. Often they hire somebody to do this for them, and their lives are not consumed at all by social media.

Is taking a vacation each year a top priority for you? Credit: Shutterstock

15. They Take Vacations

Unlike our European counterparts, Americans get very little vacation time. The longer someone works for a company, the more time they get to enjoy. Some full-time employees are lucky to get ten days off per year. If you get two weeks, that’s considered fantastic. Compared to the UK’s law that people need at least five weeks off of paid vacation, ten days is nothing. But anyone who has this privilege in the US is considered to be lucky. They often take that time to travel to different places and have new and interesting experiences so that they can come back to work refreshed and ready to show more creativity and ingenuity.

Middle-class families can afford a fun tropical vacation. Credit: Shutterstock

People in the lower class may not be able to find full-time employment. Even if they do, lower-paying jobs like retail are awful for vacation time. Instead of getting paid time off, many of these companies will allow you to call out, but they will not pay you. So by taking a day off, people are losing money. And some simply cannot afford to do that. These lower-income families usually opt to take short road trips on the weekend, and many have never left the country. Being able to take a vacation truly is a luxury that is reserved for the middle class. If you have that luxury, make sure you don’t blow an entire year’s salary on it.

Most middle-class parents want their kids to graduate from college. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Their Parents Encouraged A Traditional Path

Most people living in the middle class have a traditional 9-5 job. They have a good salary, vacation time, a health insurance plan, and a little money set aside for retirement. And in this generation, most of these people went to college to get at least a bachelor’s degree. All of this is because their parents probably encouraged them to go down a traditional path to “success.” There is minimal risk involved and a high level of security. After all, who doesn’t want to make sure that their children have a comfortable, secure lifestyle that will keep them from experiencing the difficulties of poverty?

Getting married is apart of the American Dream. Credit: Shutterstock

There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, these parents have done a fantastic job making sure their kid doesn’t end up in poverty. However, most people who become rich are not going down the traditional path. They are taking risks and avoiding 9-5 jobs like the plague. Instead, they try to forge their own ways, sometimes through opening their own companies, writing books that end up selling well, or going into creative enterprises that are far less secure but far more rewarding and fulfilling. Anyone who grew up in a middle-class family might struggle to step off that path, especially if their friends and family disagree with the idea.

Most middle-class people dream of owning a home one day. Credit: Shutterstock

13. They Own A House (Or Aspire To)

Most people who earn a middle-class income can buy a house with their household income, but it depends on where they live. For example, $75,000 per year would never be enough to buy real estate in a place like New York City. Other factors include monthly student loan payments, rent, and expenses so draining that they cannot afford a house for several years after graduating from college. Buying a house does take careful planning, because unlike a rental lease that will expire after one year, a mortgage can last for 30 years, sometimes even longer. The home to buy is one of the most important life decisions that a person will ever make.

For most people, buying a house is one of the biggest milestones of their life. Credit: Shutterstock

Even if someone in the middle class doesn’t have a house yet, they will usually tell you that they want one. More often than not, they are not thinking of real estate as an investment, but rather a place where they want to raise their children. While the house’s value will likely increase with time, they are not thinking about selling it down the road so that they can buy something bigger and better. They will most likely only own this one house for the rest of their lives. In the past, people in the middle class could afford a second home on the beach or mountains.

A lot of people in the middle class love true crime stories. Credit: Shutterstock

12. They Love True Crime

Whether it’s Podcasts, TV series, or documentaries, people in the middle class can’t get enough true crime. Like reality shows, series dealing with mystery and crime is also near the charts’ top. According to The Wrap, some of the most popular crime and police shows among the middle class are Elementary, Shades of Blue, and Quantico. These come on the heels of true-crime shows like Psych, Bones, NCIS, and the ultimate classic, Law, and Order. Then, of course, you need to think about Netflix. Some of the most popular original series, like You were seen by more than 40 million subscribers.

Solving mysteries can be a lot of fun. Credit: Shutterstock

Another hugely popular thing among the middle class is listening to true crime podcasts. A few years ago, a podcast called Serial quickly rose to the top of the charts and inspired several other popular podcasts like My Favorite Murder and new up-and-coming series like Vintage Villains. That is a great way to hear stories about true crime without actually reading a book, and it can be played during your commute, which is easier than a TV series. Maybe hearing about true crime allows them to experience some of the thrill without the danger of being targeted by a criminal or having to chase one through a darkened alley before he commits another crime.

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming platforms online. Credit: Shutterstock

11. They Sign Up On Streaming Subscriptions

You don’t have to pay for any kind of streaming subscription to see all of the newest shows in this day and age. However, people in the middle class are willing to pay for services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, especially if it eliminates a cable bill. These services can provide hours and hours on end of entertainment for very little; just the price of one month of Netflix is about the same as going to the movie theatre, and you don’t have to pay through the nose for the expensive theatre popcorn.

Disney + is a brand new streaming service in 2019. Credit: Shutterstock

Sure, their family and friends might mooch from their account, but they would rather have the convenience of knowing that they can quickly and easily access their favorite shows. Without the real subscriptions, you cannot watch content on your Smart TV or iPhone. The middle class enjoys the sheer convenience of paying for services like this because their time is more valuable than fumbling with illegal downloads. But the downside is that binging on these streaming platforms keeps them away from more productive and creative activities, such as reading or spending quality time with people. Those who are wealthy spend much less time watching television.

Most Americans are paying a fortune for health care. Credit: Shutterstock

10. The Price Of Health Care Is A Huge Concern

People who live below the poverty line in their state often qualify for Medicaid, making their healthcare completely free. Some people can go their entire lives with free healthcare, as long as they remain poor. But as soon as you make enough to be in the middle class, you are going to be straddled with huge monthly premiums. Let’s not forget about co-pays, deductibles, and the cost of medication. Insurance alone can be several hundred dollars a month, especially for self-employed individuals and do not have an employer cover the costs. Some choose to go without insurance because they figure that paying their medical bills on their own is cheaper than the monthly premiums.

The middle class is concerned with health care costs. Credit: Burst by Shopify

Middle-class people are very concerned with health care costs. You might hear stories about someone who has gone into massive debt with medical bills, or they had to pay huge costs out of pocket for their medications. According to statistics, the leading cause of bankruptcy in America is due to outstanding medical bills. It can very literally ruin your life if you don’t have insurance in America. The rich pay for their medical procedures or have an expensive insurance plan that covers their needs. However, many in the middle class cannot afford these monthly premiums, especially if they are also buying luxury goods that they do not need.

No one can help getting older. We’re only human. Credit: Shutterstock

9. They Have A Midlife Crisis

We have all heard of someone having a midlife crisis. Once a person reaches their 40’s or early 50’s, they begin to get upset about the fact that their life is halfway over, and they will never be young again. They might splurge on a sports car, get a divorce, or try to recapture their lost youth. Some realize that they have spent their lives doing things that others wanted them to do and never risked themselves. Believe it or not, the United States is pretty much the only place where people experience having a midlife crisis. Out of the people who experience this, most of them are in the middle class.

One of the signs of a midlife crisis is an older man who buys a sports car. Credit: Shutterstock

People going through a midlife crisis begin to regret some of the decisions they made in the past. Maybe they hate the fact that they forced themselves to work a job they hate. Or perhaps they wish they had more fun in their 20’s and traveled while still young. They know that they had options in life, but they just chose the wrong ones, maybe because they were pressured by society to choose a specific path. Very poor people do not experience a midlife crisis because they know that they did their best to survive.

The middle class loves to buy into the American Dream. Credit: Shutterstock

8. They Believe In The American Dream

The American Dream is the idea that every single person living in the United States is entitled to get married, have kids, buy a house, and have two cars in the driveway. Ever since the end of World War II, the media has been trying to sell us the idea of the “American Dream.” That pushed many people into getting married when they aren’t pleased and a house when they aren’t truly ready. That may be why 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even though the statistics are clear that the American Dream is no longer working, people in the middle class still yearn to have those things.

Young middle-class people aspire to have everything promised to them in the American Dream. Credit: Shutterstock

Sadly, not everyone gets to have that life. And this is probably why some of these people end up having a midlife crisis later on. Many rich people do not believe in the American Dream in the traditional sense, even if they have all of the things on the checklist that qualifies them to be “successful.” They understand that people worldwide have very different paths, and not everyone should be judged by these qualities. They also know that you have to work hard to have things like your own home, and part of that hard work includes being thrifty and saving money for a reasonable down payment. Not everyone can do those things.

If someone rents, you know they are probably middle-class. Credit: Shutterstock

7. They’re Renters

In the middle class, there is a good mix of people who both rent and own property. However, if you hear that someone is renting an apartment, you automatically know that they must be in the middle or lower-middle class. The Pew Research Center published a document called “American Families Face a Growing Rent Burdon.” According to their research, the demand for rental space has grown significantly since the 2008 recession. As of 2016, 43 million Americans were renting an apartment or house. Unfortunately, rental prices seem to be going up, which means that rents are having an increasingly difficult time keeping up with the cost.

43 million Americans lease their homes. Credit: Shutterstock

People who live below the poverty line may have to resort to living with multiple roommates. And many young people are forced to live at home with their parents far longer than they expected. Most people who are wealthy have the mindset that paying rent is like throwing money away. They would rather spend money on owning a property that could be sold later. While many middle-class people are aspiring to homeownership, they continue renting in the meantime. While renting can be suitable for a short period, especially while looking for a home to buy, over the long term, it prevents you from building equity.

Fidget spinners were a huge craze with kids. Credit: Shutterstock

6. They Buy Into Fads

All of the products you see “As Seen on TV” are targeted at the middle class. Whether it’s toys, cleaning products, or gadgets, middle-class people have the expendable income to buy these items, even if they don’t need them. That is especially true if they have kids going to come from school, declaring that every other kid in their class has a certain toy. The problem is that while these little toys may seem cheap, the expenses build up until, ultimately, people have built a life of trends and have rooms full of junk that is no longer trendy.

As Seen on TV products are actually in stores, too. Credit: Shutterstock

People in the lower class usually cannot buy into these fads, and people in the upper class typically recognize that the vast majority of these things are a massive waste of money. Self-made millionaires know how to spend their money wisely. They look for items they want, rather than what everyone else is buying, and choose to invest and save rather than waste money on junk. More significantly, those who are careful enough with their money to get to the top often become the trendsetters that other people follow. Would you rather be someone who sets the trends or someone who merely follows them?

A massive line of people waiting outside of the Apple store. Credit: Shutterstock

5. They Get The Newest Apple Product

We’ve all heard of the Apple fans who stand in line the day a new product comes out. There are even tech YouTube channels that love to go over the stats of each new product. Obviously, people living in the lower class can’t afford to buy a new MacBook, and their iPhone is probably a few years old. So when you see someone constantly upgrading their tech, you know that they must be middle class. They don’t necessarily need the new tech, even though the latest product may have a couple of extra bells and whistles that their current product does not have. They are looking for the notoriety of being able to say that they have the latest Apple product.

Middle-class people love to collect new Apple products. Credit: Shutterstock

So, what about the upper class? Some might assume that rich people would want the newest of everything. That’s not necessarily true. Self-made millionaires know when to make a good investment. They probably own an Apple product but keep it for a few years. The whole point was to invest in something high-quality that will last a long time. For example, the differences between an iPhone X and an iPhone XR or 11 are tiny and not worth the upgrade. A rich person probably wouldn’t bother to stand in line all night for the newest iPhone because their time is far too valuable.

The middle class loves shopping online. Credit: Shutterstock

4. They Rarely Live Below Their Means

People in the middle class tend to live a lifestyle that they can just barely afford. Even if they get a raise and start making more money, they would rather upgrade their lifestyle to match their higher salary. If they had just continued to live below their means, they might have money for investments, savings, and so much more. However, the pull of flaunting the latest trends and fads by pretending that they have money to burn can be too much to resist. So they continue throwing away hundreds of dollars a month on gourmet coffee at Starbucks, even more money than that on designer clothes, and even more money than that on interest and fees for credit cards.

Most women love to go shopping, especially if they are in the middle class. Credit: Shutterstock

If many middle-class people did a budget, they would realize that they are over-spending. For example, they might want a Tesla Model 3, which would be around $600 a month. If they did a budget, they might realize that they can only afford $400 per month. But they will often still go for a more expensive option because it’s what they want. Often, middle-class people are over-spending on can be acquired for much cheaper if they buy them used. For example, a used version of the same Tesla Model 3 might come closer to $400 per month and be within their spending range.

The Hallmark Channel is pumping out tons of new movies. Credit: Hallmark Channel

3. They Watch Hallmark Christmas Movies

If you live in a middle-class family, the odds that your mom, grandmother, or sister watch Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies is pretty high. In fact, in 2019, their viewership grew an additional 9%, totaling 85 million people. This year, they premiered a record-breaking 40 new movies, which is more than ever before. According to the Chicago Tribune, they believe that it’s an effect of the Trump Era. Most Americans are sick and tired of fighting one another over politics. Every time you turn on the news, there is more debate and vitriol. Watching Hallmark is a “safe” option where the stories do not have sex or violence.

Women love to watch Hallmark movies together during the holidays. Credit: Shutterstock

The idea of escaping from reality has always been popular among the lower and middle classes. But in the upper class, most people have to “keep calm and carry on” with reality. They tend not to watch as much TV in general and would potentially grow bored to watch what is essentially the same plot repeatedly. Instead, they are busy investing in their own lives by spending their time with friends and family instead of on the sofa with Hallmark Christmas movies. Instead of vicariously living the perfect Christmas wishes of other people on television, they are creating memories that they can personally cherish forever.

People in the middle class might get a new car just because their neighbors did. Credit: Shutterstock

2. They Try To “Keep Up With The Joneses”

There is an insightful article in the Wall Street Journal called Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class. It goes over how much people tend to get into debt so that they can keep up with the appearances of what it means to be “middle class.” Then, logic would tell you that people care far too much about what their neighbors think than about whether they are living meaningful and happy lives. This forces the question of whether middle class is a lifestyle or an income bracket. Can someone earn $80,000 a year, live frugally, save heartily, and still be considered middle class?

Neighbors may be friendly rivals. Credit: Shutterstock

If you live in the middle class, you can see this happen in real-time. When one person gets solar panels on their roof, suddenly everyone else does, too. And if there is a nice sports car or pickup truck in the driveway, someone else wants to get one so that they can appear to be doing just as well. This kind of behavior is toxic, and it will ultimately lead to unnecessary consumer debt. Living within your means may mean that you have to avoid people who only care about appearances so that you are less tempted to spend money that you do not have for things you do not want to impress people that you do not even like.

People respect professors, even if they don’t make a lot of money. Credit: Shutterstock

1. They Value Credentials Over Income

Last but not least, studies have shown that people in the middle and upper classes value someone’s credentials more than the amount of money they make. For example, if you had an HVAC repairman or a plumber making $70,000 per year, they are making enough to be considered “middle class.” However, most people would think of their occupation as “working class” or “blue-collar.” On the flip side, a professor with a Ph.D. might struggle to pay their bills, making just $30,000 per year. But they would still be considered “middle class” because they have a high-level degree and academic accomplishments.

Plumbers usually make more than professors. Credit: Shutterstock

People in the lower class tend to respect someone’s income more than their credentials, especially in this specific case. They would see the plumber or HVAC worker and see a hard-working man who makes great money. And they might think that the professor’s career is a bit frivolous. The poor would tend to focus on the fact that the professor has tons of student loan debt and isn’t making much more than other working-class jobs. Meanwhile, those who are wealthy care about whether or not the job gets done. If someone is a plumber and can fix the pipes so that the bathroom stops overflowing, who cares if they are middle class or lower class? And if a professor is a great teacher and has contributed to society through meaningful research, he or she is earning that $30,000 per year.

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