You won’t believe how much it takes to be middle class in America


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Recessions, inflation, debt-ceiling limits, oh my.

It’s getting harder and harder to be middle-class in America. In fact, Pew Research shows that the number of middle-class adult Americans has shrunk by more than 10 percentage points over the last 50 years. So, if you’ve ever heard someone say that the American middle class is shrinking, they’re actually correct. 

As the cost of living increases across the U.S., it takes more and more cash to be considered a middle-class American. In fact, a study by Smartasset found that Massachusetts, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. require the highest salaries to be middle-class, each of which requires you to make more than $60,000 to be middle-class. Mississippi has the lowest overall income limit to be considered middle class, at $34,640. The next two lowest are West Virginia, at $34,336, and Louisiana, at $34,898.

Worried you’ll be squeezed out of America’s middle class? Consider working with a financial advisor. Find a fiduciary advisor who serves your area today.

According to Smartasset’s research, these are the American cities with the lowest income limits to be considered middle class:

  1. Cleveland ($23,827)
  2. Detroit ($24,214)
  3. Buffalo, New York ($27,248)
  4. Cincinnati ($28,631)
  5. Newark, New Jersey ($28,972)

On the other end of the scale, there are cities where the average American would struggle to be middle class. (And if you’re struggling financially already, it may be time to find a local fiduciary financial advisor.) The cities that have the highest income limits to be considered middle class include:

  1. Fremont, California ($104,499)
  2. San Jose, California ($84,673)
  3. Arlington, Virginia ($84,186)
  4. San Francisco ($81,623)
  5. Seattle ($74,223)

No matter if your state ranks among the highest or lowest middle-class income limits, you can take steps to make your dollar go further: 

  1. Get a remote side hustle: Make some extra money at home by tutoring, selling art, bookkeeping for a company, writing an ebook, and more. Even a few extra hours a week can help you make ends meet.
  2. Avoid lifestyle creep: Most simple, lifestyle creep is when you start spending more as your income increases. However, this can quickly spiral out of control and lead you to live beyond your means. Nip unhealthy money habits like online shopping at 2 a.m. in the bud now before you end up with a timeshare you’ll never visit and can’t really afford. 
  3. Seek out help: It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a financial advisor or planner, but such an investment could really help get your finances back on track. (You can get matched with a fiduciary financial advisor in just five minutes. An advisor could help you make smarter money moves and make sure the only potential move from the American middle class you make is upwards, not downwards.)
  4. Cut down your food bill: Eating out, delivery services, high-end grocery stores, and name-brand products can really make your wallet feel the pain. Try out some tried-and-true fixes, such as meal planning, shopping at cheaper local stores, and buying off-brand. 
  5. Keep your finances up-to-date: Lost you job? Got a promotion? Had an emergency car repair? It’s time to take a deep dive into your budget again. Consider what expenses you could cut, such as streaming service subscriptions. 

Need more help managing your finances? It may be time to find a financial advisor.  Luckily, you can get matched with up to three local fiduciary financial advisors in just five minutes. These advisors have been vetted and all uphold the fiduciary standard to work in your best interests. 

Ready to get matched and help ensure you’re not shrunk out of the American middle class? Get started now to reach your financial goals (Sponsored)


Kaitlyn Farley

Kaitlyn is MediaFeed’s senior editor. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. She has worked at various radio stations and newsrooms, covering higher-education, local politics, natural disasters and investigative and watchdog stories related to Title IX and transparency issues.