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How 'middle class' are you?

Posted by Cheryl Costa  April 27, 2010 10:31 AM

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A recent article by US News and World Report shed some interesting light on just who really is "middle class' and who is not.  If you have always wondered how you fit in, check out these statistics from the article:

Income: Household income for the middle class ranges from $51,000 to $123,000 for the typical four person, two parent household with the median income being $81,000.

Housing: The median home size for those in the middle class is 2,300 square feet

Cars: The typical family has car expenses of $12,400 for two medium sized sedans.

Saving for College: The typical middle class family saves just over $4,000 per year for their two kids.  The article says that this amount of savings should cover 75 percent of the expenses at a state university.

Medical Expenses: It seems that the average middle class family spends just over $5,000 per year on health insurance and other out-of-pocket medical expenses and the article notes that this category is the fastest growing expense in a family's budget.

Vacations:  Now here is where it gets interesting.  The article says that the average cost of a family vacation for four is $3,000 and that families that are slightly more affluent spend about $6,100.

Retirement Savings: The study indicated that the target savings goal should be 3.2 percent of income.  (However, if you have ever run even very basic retirement projections, you know that, depending on your age and current savings, a much higher savings rate is probably much more appropriate.  Shoot for at least 10 percent if you can manage it).

Everyday Expenses: The average middle class family spends about $14,000 per year on the somewhat descretionary spending categories of food, clothing, entertainment and other expenses.

Net Worth: The typical household has a net worth of about $84,000 but obviously that number varies widely with age and other circumstances.

Mortgage Payments and Other Debt: The average family devotes 18 percent of their disposable income to mortgage payments, car loans and credit cards. 





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Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

About the contributors

D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit www.morganstanleyfa.com/ringer
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of CardHub.com, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and WalletHub.com, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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