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We keep hearing about the so-called “Middle Class.” What exactly is the middle class, and if they are indeed missing, where did they go?

It seems everyone has their own definition of what the middle class is or isn’t. For some the middle class is the median household income of around $54,000 a year.

Others judge the middle class by discretionary income left after all bills are paid.

For others it’s a three-bedroom home, 2.5 kids, two-car garage and a white picket fence accompanied by a stack of credit card bills.

How It Used To Be

When I was growing up few mothers worked outside the home. The breadwinner in the 50s and early 60s brought home enough to take care of obligations with a little left over for a late model car and yearly vacation.

We had the basics. Black and white TV, phone attached to the wall, coal furnace. Was really great to finally get a phone upstairs and color TV.

So what’s changed?

I believe the middle class is alive and well — just redefined. People may not be making more but what they do make buys more of what they want.

I can buy a better cell phone for less than three years ago. I don’t see any shortage of big screen TV’s at Costco or Walmart. They too have come down in price.

Basic computers are approaching $200 or less. The majorities of homes either have cable or dish capability.

Dishwasher, washer and dryer, everyone in the family has their own cell phone, big screen TV, Internet, DVD player, X-Box, microwave, movie channels, video games or Netflix.

Things our parents and grandparents back in the 60s only dreamed about.

Getting The Most Bang For The Buck

Looking around the city it would seem that a lot of people are getting a lot of bang for the buck out of their $54,000 paychecks.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there hurting — no question there are. But are they poor because of how they live?

The middle class that budgets and lives within their means are doing a lot better than those who have abused credit and live the grasshopper lifestyle taking home the exact same paycheck.

Some Final Thoughts

It’s easy to pigeonhole a group of people into one definable class. But is that accurate? I think not. It’s not a question of how much you make.

It’s the lifestyle you lead that defines your rung on the middle class income ladder.

Anyone can spend and anyone can save. The true middle class, those that live like our parents used to, have the things mentioned above but they did the same thing our parents did to realize the middle class dream.

They budgeted and saved for the things they wanted.

Which middle class are you in? Comment below.

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