There is no clear definition of what the middle class is. Often, just about everyone sees themselves as middle class, no matter how much they earn. Middle class is really a mindset. Furthermore, that mindset has to change for you to leave the middle class for the upper class.
Are you ready to shake that middle-class attitude? That way, you can start thinking about building wealth and becoming wealthy? Then read on to learn more about moving on up. Here are 30 ways to avoid getting stuck in the middle class.
30. The Middle Class Is Shrinking
When politicians say the economy is improving, they usually refer to markers such as the stock market (via Business Insider). This tends to benefit the wealthy more than the middle class and actual job creation, even when those jobs are low-income jobs. Where do these markers leave the middle class? What does it mean for those who have achieved the dream of homeownership but may not have enough in savings for a financial hardship? No matter how well politicians say the economy is doing, the middle class always seems to be shrinking (via Business Insider).
People in the middle class aren’t poor but they tend to be worried about being poor (via Data Driven Investor). They may own a house and car and take annual vacations. Nevertheless, one thing that they may not have is sufficient savings. Therefore, they’re constantly worried about losing any income from extended sick leave or loss of employment. Any talk of downsizing or company mergers can send them into a tailspin because they could potentially be laid off. This fear keeps them going to a job they may not like to continue a lifestyle that doesn’t include enough saving (via Data Driven Investor).
Our thoughts don’t always become realities but the old adage still has some truth. People who are in the middle class tend to share a mindset of fear and this does affect their financial realities (via Business Insider). They become frustrated. When people are frustrated, they do not try as hard because they see their efforts as futile. The first and most crucial step to breaking out of the middle class and getting into the upper class is to change how you think about money (via Business Insider).
Wealthy people have adopted certain habits that begin with their thoughts (via Data Driven Investor). They know that working hard is not enough; some of the hardest-working people in the world remain in dire poverty because their wages are so low. They have to become the best in their field so that people want to recruit them and will pay a premium to do so. Also, they know that they, and nobody else, are responsible for their own success. Frustration cannot be an option when they know that they must push themselves to achieve what they want (via Data Driven Investor).
Seeing money as scarce means that it is a finite resource that may run out if they do not continue working a job they hate every day (via Business Insider). Living out of scarcity means that you are constantly afraid that should something go wrong. Should you have to miss work for more than a couple of days, you will not have enough. Because people in the middle class see money as a scarce resource, they live like they’re on a treadmill, constantly trying not to fall off (via Business Insider).
Those in the upper class see money entirely differently than those who are stuck in the middle class (via Business Insider). Yes, money is often a scarce and finite resource for the middle class. However, for those who are rich, money is a source of freedom and opportunity. It doesn’t control their lives. Instead, they use money to create the lives that they want (via Business Insider). This process necessarily includes using their money to make more money, not by spending it foolishly but by investing it wisely.
Dreamers are people who have aspirations so high that they seem to live their entire lives in the clouds. They may forget what’s right in front of them because they are so focused on potential and what could be (via Data Driven Investor). In the process, they may miss bills that need to be paid or skills that need to be learned to get a promotion. They may be so busy dreaming about their dream job, dream house, and dream car that they forget the ones that are right in front of them (via Data Driven Investor). That requires their focus and attention in the here and now.
Doers get their heads out of the clouds and get the job done (via Data Driven Investor). This isn’t to say that people in the upper class don’t have dreams. They do, but the difference is that their dreams have turned into goals that they work towards every day instead of remaining as aspirations that they hope someone will one day hand to them. Many self-made millionaires spent years working for large corporations, coming in early and staying late so that they can get promoted into the corner office (via Data Driven Investor).
22. The Middle Class Waits For Their Ship To Come In
People in the middle class are often waiting for their good fortune to arrive and turn their lives around (via Business Insider). Some people believe that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, a belief known as the prosperity gospel. Those people might be waiting for God to come to deliver them from any financial misfortune. They may be waiting for a magical promotion or even a life partner/spouse to come their way and make them rich (via Business Insider).
People who got rich did not do so by standing by and waiting for a hero to come and rescue them from financial misery. Instead, they got to work creating the life they wanted for themselves (via Business Insider). They have a plan of action that they follow by starting goals and working towards those goals every day. While people stuck in the middle class are waiting for their ship to come in, those who are wealthy have already built the boat (via Business Insider).
People stuck in the middle class also tend to be stuck in a job that they find tolerable, but nothing more (via CNBC). They can’t find a reason to complain about a job that pays the bills and allows them to go on family vacations every year, so they stick out the unfulfilling job. Meanwhile, they spend the whole week dreaming of the weekend and spend decades dreaming about retirement. In the meantime, they’re missing their opportunity to find a job they are truly passionate about (via CNBC).
Wealthy people tend to be the very best in their fields for good reason – they’ve found what they are passionate about, so they can throw their hearts and souls into their jobs (via CNBC). Because they are so dedicated, they can rise through the ranks and become the best of the best, leading to uncommonly high paychecks. Unlike those stuck in the middle class, they know that they cannot work hard enough at the wrong job and expect to become wealthy (via CNBC). They have to work hard in the right position and become the absolute best.
You may think that wealthy people live the luxurious lifestyles they can afford. But for self-made millionaires, the opposite is usually true. Those who are rich have serious financial discipline to live consistently within a budget (via Data Driven Investor). They know that you can never build wealth by acquiring more clothes and toys; you can only achieve wealth by saving and investing your money. To have money to save and invest, they know that you have to live below your means to have enough money left at the end of the month (via Data Driven Investor).
People who are in the middle class tend to carry significant debt ranging from a mortgage to a car loan to credit cards to student loans. Interest and monthly payments put a serious dent in the budget, but not for the wealthy in the upper class. They know that debt should be avoided if possible and paid off very quickly if it must be taken on. They don’t use credit cards to buy things they do not have the money for and eschew fancy and expensive cars (via Data Driven Investor). Many also do not upgrade their electronics regularly to avoid debt (via Data Driven Investor).
Are you stuck in the middle class and feel unable to get out? Take a minute to evaluate how comfortable you are with being, well, uncomfortable. By and large, people in the middle class want to be comfortable. They desire to have a nice car, a lovely house, and all the tech toys they can afford. However, they’re really looking for safety (via Life Hack). The safety that comes from working a dull job that they do not enjoy, or the security of never having to fail. Their unwillingness to become uncomfortable helps ensure that they never leave the middle class (via Life Hack).
Those who get out of the middle class and become self-made millionaires know that if they are not failing often enough, they are not trying enough. They are willing to take risks and do things that may not feel safe such as opening their own business or investing their money instead of spending it (via Life Hack). They know that if they do not feel uncomfortable regularly, they live in the comfort zone that breeds mediocrity (via Life Hack). To be extraordinary, excel in their field, and command the large paychecks, they have to get uncomfortable and they’re okay with that.
Those who cannot break out of the middle class tend to have degrees that may have included graduating in the top 10% of their grade. However, the ability to pass a test or write an essay does not guarantee you will become wealthy. Many people who have graduate degrees cannot even find work in their field and are often saddled with significant debt from student loans (via CNBC). Having a good education doesn’t hurt, but it’s not necessarily the ticket to wealth (via CNBC). There are things more important than being able to ace calculus.
Many of the wealthiest people in the world dropped out of college. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, believed that dropping out of Reed College was one of the best choices he ever made, and Michael Dell of Dell Computers dropped out of the University of Texas during his freshman year (via CNBC). Not having a college degree did not hold them back because they focused on other skills, including developing their ideas and networking with the rich and powerful. Bill Gates makes a point of reading 50 books a year, which he credits with helping him develop his skills (via CNBC).
Many people who are living comfortably in the middle class are flat broke. They may earn $250,000 per year but if they also spend $250,000 per year, they end up broke every year. Living within your means includes saving at least 10% of your income each month. It doesn’t mean breaking even so that you can just barely afford all of the toys you want year after year. People in the middle class may buy the most prominent house they can afford (via Life Hack). However, the wealthy often live in modest homes and drive old cars because they don’t spend their money on assets that will depreciate over time (via Life Hack).
People in the middle class may hold a comfortable job that allows them to live a comfortable lifestyle (via Life Hack). However, they are working for somebody else at the end of the day. Again, their productivity is padding the company’s bottom line. Should they decide that they do not want to continue working for the company, they will probably have to find another company that will hire them. As a result, many people in the middle class continually feel that their jobs are in the balance (via Life Hack); they do not have the independence to strike out on their own and work for themselves.
On the other hand, millionaires are the ones who own the companies that people who are stuck in the middle class tend to be working for. Their productivity is padding the millionaires’ paychecks. Furthermore, the millionaire owner is not concerned about deciding one day that they are no longer interested in this company. Instead, they can make the necessary changes to continue moving the company in a particular direction (via Life Hack). Those in the upper class have much more control over their own lives because they don’t dread working for “the man” every day (via Life Hack).
Those stuck in the middle class and seemingly unable to get out tend to wonder, often with bitterness and/or cynicism, just why some people can get to the top. There seems to be a great mystery around those who can break through all of their financial woes and become one of the top one percent (via Business Insider). The middle class may wonder what unfair advantage the rich have: family inheritance or an Ivy League education. They don’t realize that self-made millionaires (as opposed to the rich whose families are also wealthy) have no unfair advantages (via Business Insider).
Those in the middle class go to their jobs every day because the paycheck enables them to sustain their lifestyles. They may not like their jobs at all, and the time and energy at work may take them away from their passions (via Life Hack). Still, they keep at it until they receive a better job offer. If they believe they will make more money at a different job, they will usually resign from their present positions to take the new one. Jobs are all about earning money and this mindset keeps people stuck in the middle class (via Life Hack).
Of course, people go to work to get paid. However, there are plenty of other reasons to work. Those who are wealthy work to gain experience and learn skills. In turn, those skills will stick with them as they continue moving through a path that will ultimately lead to wealth (via Life Hack). They may have spent years working at a bank so that they could learn the ins and outs of corporate finance before moving into the corner office at a Fortune 500 company. That $30,000 a year job really did pay off with the skills and experience that they needed (via Life Hack).
Lifestyle creep happens when you get a higher paycheck and immediately spend all of the money on more things that will sustain the lifestyle you think you need (via Data Driven Investor). That may include a new smartwatch or a brand-new car. Why? All to celebrate the promotion that pays just enough to cover these new toys. When lifestyle creep sets in, you cannot begin saving and investing that higher paycheck because you spend it all on new things that you think you need to have (via Data Driven Investor).
If you’re stuck in the middle class, you probably spend a lot of your paycheck each month acquiring more things. You may be under the misguided perception that having things makes you wealthy, but no, having things makes you broke. That new car you bought lost 20 percent of its value the minute you drove it off the lot (via Life Hack). That mortgage that costs half your income each month keeps you from saving and investing your money (via Life Hack). Furthermore, that brand new iPhone that you needed? You didn’t need to spend $1200 on another toy.
When you buy things, you invest money in liabilities that will depreciate very quickly. However, when you invest money in stocks and bonds, you build wealth that will appreciate through the miracle of compounded interest (via Life Hack). Those who are wealthy often possess fewer toys than those who are middle class, and they may live in smaller homes despite having a larger paycheck. They know that buying things makes you broke, but investing money makes you rich. Many who become rich invest at least 20 percent of their paycheck each month (via Life Hack).
Many millionaires are not saddled down with toys and other things that keep them from living their best lives. Not only do they have more money because they choose to invest rather than spend, but they see that money in terms of the freedom they have to live the life they want to live. Instead of seeing what they don’t have as many people in the middle class do, they know the life they want to live and then make it a reality (via Business Insider). Money is a source of opportunity to create the life that they want to be able to live (via Business Insider).
Rich people don’t just earn more money. They may actually make less than those in the middle class, but they think about money differently. Money is not a way to buy more things but rather a way to create the wealth that will allow them to live the life that they want to live (via Business Insider). To them, money is a resource that can be put to work to grow. It’s not just a commodity that may run out. Furthermore, money is also the byproduct of hard work and problem-solving, not just the drudgery of getting up every day and going to work. The rich often spend less and build up their skills to earn more, and then they invest that money so it gains even more (via Business Insider).