The official poverty line in 2007 was stated at 20,650 for a family of four.
As for the middle class, the Congressional Research Service issued a report last year pegging middle class income as between 19k and 91k. Average median income is 48,200 so does that make you middle class? And what does it mean to be middle class?
So everyone above 90k a year is rich and everyone below it is middle class. If you make $90,000 in Boise, Idaho you obviously have a different standard of living than if I make 90k in Los Angeles. Does this mean because of my income I am middle class no matter the cost of living? This is ridiculous logic bordering on outright idiotic calculations. These terms are thrown around loosely and with such disregard and with no significant meaning that they no longer even relate to the times.
What is middle class anyway? Is it an income level and then you are in this club called the Middle Class? And what do you get from this club? Is it even something worth being a part of or aspiring to? Is there some line you cross over from one class to the other based on your income. Income is only one small part of an individuals financial well-being.
Part of the problem is definitions, semantics, and certainly timing. What is poverty? What is Middle Class? What is rich?
What do these classes matter if there is no money left over for medical emergencies, education, a down payment for a home and savings for investments? This so called, middle class appears to be getting crushed maybe even erased due to it's lack of understanding about money and debt. The middle class has become a mindset more than a financial condition and that mindset has been corrupted with false information and poor financial policy.
2.4 kids, a house, picket fence, a dog, an education and 50,000 dollars a year equals middle class. Many of those images are at least fifty years old not even relevant to the times we live in today!
My mom was born in 1921 and at the age of nine was standing in bread lines. The idea of having food, a home, an education for the kids and a car were only dreams to her.
Fast forward to the 1950's and the middle class images of one TV, a brick home, husband working at dependable job, retirement plan, kids getting an education and a vacation to Bermuda once every five years was making it! The Average income in 1950 was 14k and their debt was zero. Your kids were happy to have a used glove and a ball to play with friends. You paid cash for your home and car and kept that house for twenty years.
Fast forward to present time. The images change again and the middle class family has two cars, mom and dad both work, child care is now necessary, a boat and four wheelers for recreation, big screens and plasma TV's in every room, two vacations a year funding from credit cards and home equity lines, 6.6 credit cards, 108% of all income is spent, kids' sports require special uniforms, travel, special equipment and a trainer and six year old girls must own 300 dollar dolls.
What used to be the American dream of reaching the middle class over the last five decades has greatly changed- from financial security to the class of pain and financial insecurity! Horrendous products like no fee credit cards, zero percent interest, no money down purchases and a desire to one up your neighbor have turned the American Middle Class family into no more than drug addicts and the drug is debt.
I spend everyday watching two things:
1) How can I increase my income by any means necessary.
2) How can I reduce and/or pay off all debt that doesn't increase income.
Did you know that 75% of all credit card income comes from late fees! Surprised? Here I give you a card for free and hope that you are late! The drug dealer shows up at the kid's school and offers the first taste in hopes of getting him hooked for life!
The market place is punishing the middle class for not being able to discipline itself! "If you won't stop this ridiculous out of control behavior I will stop it for you" says the market place! Thus higher gas prices, higher food prices, foreclosures and finally the higher cost of liquidity, a dollar devalued and tightening of credit!
Wake up America. The middle class your parents strived for and achieved was based on an income level with no debt. You exceeded their income levels by over three times and used debts in manners they would have never considered!