Life in the middle class is cushy, but remains for most to be a paycheck to paycheck experience. The problem with the middle class lifestyle is that it’s expensive, and that it oftentimes turns into a rat race that no one can really win. One of the biggest issues that the middle class has is learning how to make a living without going bankrupt due to piles of debt. Here’s how to survive on a middle class income without stressing about money too much.
1. Don’t have more kids than you can reasonably afford. The average middle class family will spend a grand total of $250,000 over the course of 18 years, just in order to raise a single kid. That comes to an extra $1150 that you should expect to spend every month. While many families will just say that you’ll just “find the money,” the truth is that it’s not wise nor responsible to try to raise kids without enough income to do so comfortably.
2. Avoid keeping up with the “Joneses”. This is a tip that I learned from a friend of mine at Premier Debt Help. A scarily large percentage of people who end up requiring debt relief of some sort need it because they were bending over backwards trying to make ends meet while keeping up appearances with neighbors. You do not have to be the “rich folks” in town in order to live a happy life, and keeping up with the Joneses is not something you should be teaching your kids, anyway.
3. Live closer to work. Truth be told, you are probably spending a pretty hefty chunk of money just by living as little as 10 miles away from work. With a typical SUV commute, you’re looking at spending as much as $600 on the commute to and from work. By living closer, you allow yourself to save some money on the daily commute, and also possibly save some money on rent. We won’t even mention the time that you save.
4. If you want to get above being middle class, don’t act middle class. If you’re making a middle class wage, then you can definitely put aside a hefty sum of money each month if you really try. You can use this money to start investing, to start a second business, or to accrue passive income. The way out of the middle class is often to make money work for you – not to work for the money. While you’re saving up money, you will need to cut back and live a more affordable lifestyle. That’s just how it is!
5. Teach your kids some financial responsibility before they head out to college. Do not be one of the many families that hands everything to children on a silver platter. It will hurt them and you in both the short and long run. By getting them to contribute to household bills, you’re making sure that you won’t end up broke by the time that they’re in college. (While you’re at it, do not pay for their colleges unless it’s with a college savings account that you have worked on for years.)
6. If you do incur debt, do it the smart way. A good way to avoid debt overwhelming you is to ensure that you get the best possible payment terms out there. You can do this by preparing to take on debt, by saving up for down payments, and by keeping your credit score in ship-shape. If your credit suffered, you might want to improve it quickly.
7. Ditch the SUV. Sure, it’s roomy and can be a bit of a status symbol, but you really don’t need it, do you? A cheaper sedan will get you and the family from point A to point B without the added gas-guzzling costs. Besides, sedans are cheaper, anyway.
8. Invest, invest, invest. Income from investments actually belong in a lower tax bracket than work-related taxes. You may as well work at investing money, adding to your 401(k), and making your money work for you. If you don’t know how to invest, consider talking to a personal financial advisor that works with middle class families.
The truth is that the middle class lifestyle is not what it’s cracked up to be. If you’re acting like a typical middle class person, then you’re likely wasting money on things you don’t need, and you’re also likely putting your future in jeopardy. If you want to get out of the rat race, stop running around the same track. It’s really that simple.