Are you rich?

Posted on July 20, 2013 by

Are you rich?

Let me rephrase that. Are you relatively wealthy?

According to the income tables, my family squeaks into the top quintile, but that same amount of money barely puts us over the median income for our county. (You can see the data for your state at the Census website.) Because the cost of living is so high here, we feel solidly middle class, rather than upper middle class (UMC). We’ve tried explaining that to the IRS, but they still insists on taxing us at 28%.

If anything, we sometimes barely scrape by on my husband’s income (we don’t even have real telephones or cable TV because of the cost), and I had to seek part-time employment for us to afford the tuition to some modest private schools for the children. The biggest differences between us and most of the middle-middle class (MMC) people we know is that our house is in a better neighborhood closer to the center of town, we drink sparkling water and occasionally splurge on a nice bottle of wine, we’re thinner and better-dressed, and we have better health insurance.

Bizarrely, my parents make it into the top 5%, despite living in a modest town home in the burbs. It’s a statistical oddity that lumps a higher-level bureaucrat who drives an aging Hyundai in with billionaires in Bentleys. But… there you are.

It appears that wealth is highly relative in America, as we’d be living like kings on my husband’s salary, if we didn’t live in a place where he could earn that salary. C’est la vie.