Friday Fun Link – What Screams Upper Middle Class?


[Edit: This post started as a way for me to share what I thought was an interesting Reddit post.  But then I had the idea to use it to talk about whether I found it interesting was because I identified – and was slightly embarrassed by – many of the points it raised.

Re-reading this post may make it also sound like I’m bragging about Shea and I being well-off.  I’m not (or I don’t mean to if it comes across that way anyhow.)

How I look at it is that everybody we know basically has a job and has an income – some are higher, some are lower – and that’s just how the world works. Most of our friends are roughly in our social class – as you’d expect – but we have friends who are doctors and lawyers who make a lot more than us and we have friends who work in retail and service industry jobs and don’t. The main thing is that (I think) Shea and I both try to treat everyone we know with respect as an equal – whether it’s our doctor or his secretary.

I should probably also do the usual acknowledgement that both Shea and I have had a lot of advantages that have helped us get to this point – supportive parents, access to higher education that wasn’t ever in doubt, connections that have helped us get jobs not to mention all the inherent advantages – being white, being born in Canada, etc.

Okay, here’s the post as I initially wrote it before adding my disclaimer…]

Depending on the day, Shea and I might deny it or embrace it.

But as a couple with professional degrees and good jobs, the reality is that we’re
probably at (or close to) what would be considered upper middle class in Canada (a hotly debated topic which takes into account not only income but also things like cost of living, value set and how your social class interacts with wider society in general.)

Another unusual way to see if we’re “upper middle class” (whatever that is) is to compare ourselves to the Top 10 Upvoted answers in this very popular r/askreddit question about things that immediately identify someone as part of the upper-middle class.

(I’ve put the AskReddit answer in bold if it applies to us, italics if it partially does, regular text if it doesn’t):

  1. A huge kitchen with professional appliances they use to microwave popcorn.
    We don’t have a really big house by current standards (our house is both ~40 years old and small ~1100 sq feet) and our kitchen is small too.  So in the kitchen itself, the only appliances we have are basically a toaster and a coffee maker.  But we do have some other appliances – including trendy ones like an Insta-Pot – in storage in a cupboard.  And yes, we also regularly make popcorn in the kitchen’s microwave – including tonight as a matter of fact!
  2. A stay at home mom being exhausted and stressed yet she has a nanny and maid service.
    Nope.  We have never used a nanny and (very very rarely) used a maid service – I think the last time was when Shea was pregnant four years ago?  But Shea isn’t a stay-at-home mom and we are actually both stressed and exhausted! 😉

  3. 10am Yoga Classes
    This sort of relates to the last one but as I said, Shea’s not a stay-at-home mom (and I’m not a stay-at-home dad) so neither of us sign-up for any activities when most people would be working.
  4. Spend Way Too Much Money Creating Custom Coffee Mugs With Family Photos on Them
    Guilty.  I got one for Shea as a Xmas gift a couple years ago. We’ve also done the same for both sets of grandparents (though not recently.)
  5. You Read Menu From Left to Right Instead of Right to Left
    If you have sufficient disposable income, you worry about picking what you feel like eating, not what you can afford to eat at a restaurant (or if you can afford to go to a restaurant at all.)
  6. Kids Have A Lot of Leftovers From Previous Fads/Hobbies
    *Very* guilty on this one.  Pace’s room is full of Lego from his Lego phase then Bat-man stuff from his Bat-man phase and our basement has dozens of video games when he really only plays a couple.  Lately, the clutter comes from anything and everything skateboard related.  Sasha’s about the same though I think we’re doing (a bit) better about not spoiling her so much like we did with our firstborn. I guess my only defense on this is that we try to avoid “fad” toys and stick with stuff that’s a bit more timeless/engaging for both Pace and Sasha. Maybe?
  7. Not Having to Check Grocery Store Prices/Bank Balances
    Sort of a mixed one for us – yes, we don’t really look at the price of groceries (spent $300 today at Costco without too much concern) but I do pay quite a bit of attention to our bank balances and how money’s coming and going though (and I guess this is part of what makes this a bold rather than italic answer is because, at the same time, we don’t really formally budget for our spending in any meaningful way but also never carry credit card debt or otherwise feel financially burdened.)
  8. Depending on definition, an upper middle class family income is between $100,00 – $150,000.  With that you can go on several vacations a year, have a savings, have average to nice things, go out to eat a few times a month, have a decent, up kept home, 2 cars, nice Christmases, healthcare. You do not tend to have a nanny. You don’t really drink $50 bottles of wine, both parents work, you don’t belong to a ritzy golf club, you tend to not drive BMW’s, you can’t spend lavishly but you also don’t overly worry.
    This answer was one of the longer ones but I quote it as it pretty much nails the things Shea and I do and don’t do very accurately – we take multiple vacations per year and eat out at restaurants regularly but we also both work and don’t drive brand new vehicles or belong to any exclusive clubs.
  9. Spending Lots To Keep Up With The Neighbours
    Probably by a flukey series of events more than anything, Shea and I ended up buying a house in a working class neighbourhood instead of in the neighbourhoods you’d expect a young professional couple to end up in – the “artsy” area, the “university” area, the quickly gentrifying inner-city neighbourhood, the “new subdivision on the edge of the city” – but that’s worked out to our benefit in so many ways including being an area that’s not as homogeneous as many of the areas that we could’ve ended up in, we end up living around people whose values might not be the same as the neighbours we’d have if we lived in Whitmore Park which is the area near the University where Shea and I first met but the values of our neighbourhood often feel very much like what we both experienced growing up in small towns.  Plus, when it’s time to build a new fence, we don’t have to hire someone to do it because one neighbour is a carpenter and another has built five different fences for his various homes over the years! ;-)Where we met…
    Where we live now…
  10. Parents make too much so their kids don’t qualify for student loans but not enough to pay for their full post-secondary education.
    I guess this one is still to be determined but we are putting a lot into RESPs for both Pace and Sasha each month but still fearful it won’t be enough when they get to University themselves.

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