Thursday, March 25, 2010

A YaHoo News Headline Caught My Eye Today ...

"How To Tell if You're Middle Class ... Are you close?" The link took me to the following U.S. News article by Rick Newman entitled, How to Gage Your Middle-Class Status
( ).

I've known for quite some time that although our family earns what is considered a middle-class income, we live a more modest lifestyle than most middle-class Americans. Why would we live a more modest lifestyle than many others within our socio-economic class? I think the two primary factors that contribute to our lifestyle are, 1. we lived at or below the poverty line for decades and 2. we are now trying to play a financial "catch-up" game with regards to retirement quickly approaching within the next 10-15 years while continuing to raise our two youngest children.

What are we currently doing differently?
Housing - we live in a much smaller and less expensive home than the "average". Not only did our home cost considerably less, but it's smaller size results in lower utility and maintenance costs.
Credit - we only use credit as a tool to maintain an active credit score. We never purchase anything on credit unless we already have the cash to pay for it. If we don't have the money, we simply make do or go without
College Savings - Yes, we are VERY bad parents. We don't have a college savings plan for our children. (The first 20 years of parenting we lived at or below poverty and it simply took every dime we earned to support our family - there wasn't any extra for college savings plans.) Although we've never implemented a college savings plan, our children still have access to college. AB enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and earned the Montgomery G.I. Bill. He has plenty of money to pay for his college education without going into debt. AB appreciates and cherishes the education he's receiving because it is something HE has earned. JP is currently serving in the U.S. Navy and contributing to his Montgomery G.I. Bill. Although JP enlisted in the Navy to gain job training and work experience, he recognizes that he may have a desire to attend college in the future and thus, is contributing to that savings plan. What about OG and EJ's future education? Like AB and JP, we are leaving that in God's hand. God has made a way for AB and, if he desires it in the future, JP to attend college. With the many scholarships, military, grants, etc. available, we are confident that God will also make a way for OG and EJ if it is within His will for them to attend college.
Autos - Mr. B and I share one vehicle. Like our previous autos, we bought it used. Although we did purchase this last one on credit (keeping that credit score active), we purchased one that was within our cash budget and since we had a no penalty interest rate (the only kind of interest rate we'd ever accept), we paid it off 14 months early.
Retirement - We contribute more than the "average" in this area. Until a few years ago, retirement fund(s) didn't exist for our family. Like college savings plans, the money simply wasn't there. We do realize that no matter how much we contribute now, we will never be able to "catch up" all the years that we missed out on in saving for retirement. But still, we don't want to squander the time we do have left to contribute to this possible future need so, we do all we can right now.
Discretionary Spending - We certainly fall well below the "average" in this area. We do not take annual family vacations, we do not eat out on a regular basis, we do not purchase new clothes on an annual basis, we do not regularly spend money on recreation, and I maintain a frugal grocery budget. Again, living at or below poverty for the majority of one's life, will accomplish one of two things. It will drive a person to "spend like a $20 h_ _ ker" every time they have a little extra OR it will drive a person to learn how to save and stretch every dime earned. We fall into the saving and stretching category.

Now, do we suffer a lifestyle of deprivation because we choose to live more conservatively? Absolutely not. We instead, examine our needs and wants and try our best to invest into them wisely. This has led to a content family that is not caught up in the materialism of "average" middle-class America.

If you'd like to learn more about living a debt free lifestyle or you just want to escape the trap of materialism, click the Crown Financial Ministries or Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace links in my sidebar.


  1. Thank you for a very thought provoking post.

    A lot to think about for our future as well, especially as retirement will be here before we know it. We live pretty simply but could tighten up a tad.

    Would love to be able to put more dollars away in savings.

    Take care,

  2. Hi Tania,

    Glad you enjoyed the post, thank you.


  3. Dear Mrs. B:

    I want to grow up to be just like you! :)

    Speaking of Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey...My church, First Assembly of God, will be hosting a Financial Peace University this coming April. The first class is FREE!!! You can call 281-446-7215 for more info. (that would be the church's number.)

    I love you!
    Thank you for candid thoughts on life and whatnot.

    Mrs. A

  4. Hey Mrs.A,

    Be careful what you wish for ... I have quite a few flaws and I think you are perfect just way God made you.

    Love you too,

  5. Hello Mrs B,

    I really enjoyed your post. We have just moved back to a semi rural area and we are now having to be fairly fugal. Like you we do not find it a problem. Sure we can't do many things that others do but we are happy and in fact I find it a bit of a challenge to be thrifty. I'm looking forward to reading some of your older posts.

    Blessings Gail

  6. Hi Gail,

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I am always delighted to have visitors. I am gald you were blessed by my post and I pray you will continue to be blessed.

  7. Hello again Mrs B,

    I have just watched a video clip you recommended on 5th July 2008. by a Southern Baptist Pastor. Thank you so much. To say I enjoyed it would be false because it made me feel very uncomfortable. I am Australian and we are very much like Americans. We say we are Christians but we don't live like Christians. This clip has given me much to think about. I found this to be very hard hitting and it was something I really needed to hear. Thank you so much for leading me to see this. I pray that I will always remember what was said by that pastor, because I know where I want to spend eternity.

    Blessings Gail

  8. Hi Gail,

    I am pleased some of my posts are blessing you.
    Yes, the video you mentioned does leave one with much to think about. There are days that I certainly struggle with living out a Christian life that would be pleasing unto the Lord.
    This is a video that I sometimes have the need to re-watch.

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  10. Hi Mary,

    Although the MEDIAN income for middle-class Americans is a little more than $50,000 per year, we must also remember that is only a MEDIAN number.
    According to the U.S. Health and Human Services department a family of 4 that earns more than $20,055 per year is considered middle-class and does not qualify for government assistance.
    So, although there are many families in American who earn considerably less than $50,000 per year - according to the U.S. government they fall into the middle-class socio-economic bracket if they earn $20,056 or more annually.
    It is quite obvious that a family with an annual household income less than $50,000 will not be able to live the "average" lifestyle outlined in the referenced article. Quite frankly, I personally don't think households earning only $50,000 per year can realistically afford the lifestyle described. In all reality these families are going into MASSIVE amounts of debt to live beyond their means. The personal debt to personal savings ratio in American is frightenly out of balance.
    For decades our family fell well below the U.S. guidelines for poverty. Although we were considered poverty level income, we continued to survive WITHOUT government assistance. Today, I am very proud that we continue to live in a frugal manner well below the "average" description protrayed in the referenced article. Why would I want to live a lifestyle that burdened me with the bondage of debt? We continue to live without debt. The peace of mind debt-free living brings is priceless.
    I am very thankful that we are free fromt the bondage that most "average" middle-class Americans are trapped in.


Thank you for taking time to read my blog and leave a comment. I try my best to respond to each one. God Bless You, Mrs.B