Here’s how much you have to earn to be considered upper-class

There’s still no clear-cut way to define class in American, because class can be defined by things like education and occupation in addition to income and net worth.

Nonetheless, Pew Research Center took a stab at defining class in a 2016 report, noting that “middle-income Americans are defined as adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, after incomes have been adjusted for household size” while “lower-income households have incomes less than 67 percent of the median and upper-income households have incomes that are more than double the median.” The national median household income was $59,039 in 2016.

Pew factored in household size because smaller households require less to support the same lifestyle as larger households.

As noted above, there’s more to class than earnings, but household income can be a useful tool. Here’s Pew’s breakdown of how much you have to earn each year to be considered upper-income, depending on the size of your family:

Who is 'middle income' and 'upper income' in 2014?

Household of one: Minimum of $72,126

Household of two: Minimum of $102,001

Household of three: Minimum of $124,925

Household of four: Minimum of $144,251

Household of five: Minimum of $161,277

Still, just because you fit into those parameters doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel upper-class.

Courtney Mishoe and her husband are making more than $180,000 a year to support their five-person family. Still, the suburban Georgia couple doesn’t “feel wealthy,” Mishoe told Todd C. Frankel of the Washington Post. Some people living in the area who earn $100,000 “are living paycheck to paycheck,” the Post reports, and even families earning up to $250,000 “don’t consider themselves to be high-earners.”

These situations illustrate how difficult it can be to avoid lifestyle creep and how a hefty paycheck doesn’t always guarantee financial peace of mind.


6 Ways to Save on Groceries

Bigger Is Better

In sticker-shock over prices at your local supermarket? Rely on these money-saving strategies.

1. Pick products on the top and bottom shelves. Bigger sizes of items, which tend to offer a lower price per unit, are usually placed on the highest and lowest shelves at the grocery store. Smaller sizes, with a higher price per unit, are often given prime placement at eye level.

Skip the Name Brands

2. Buy store brands instead. Store brands are usually close to the market leader in quality yet less costly. In fact, the same manufacturer that makes the branded product often manufactures the house brand.

Think Outside the Package

3. Avoid buying prepared and packaged goods. You’ll pay a premium for convenience. Consumer Reports once found that two pounds of carrots cost $1.29, compared with $7.16 for the same amount of precut sticks.

Become a Club Member

4. These free programs entitle cardholders to members-only savings on selected products, a benefit that could shave about 18 percent off your total grocery bill. The catch: The stores keep tabs on what customers are buying to study different segments of the shopping population.

Clip Coupons to Save

5. Download coupons. Check for deals on frequently purchased items and shop on double-coupon days if your grocer has them.

Warehouse It

6. Join a warehouse club. Bulk retailers such as BJ’s Wholesale Club and Costco can be 20 to 50 percent cheaper than regular grocery stores when it comes to products like condiments, coffee, bottled water, and canned beans and vegetables. (The supermarket has better deals on items like produce, chips, and cookies.) Visit the websites of clubs like BJ’s (; $45 annual fee), Costco (; $50), and Sam’s Club (; $40) to determine which has the best location and product mix for you, then join online.

5 ways to save more money in 2018

It never hurts to have a little more cash on your hands, whether you choose to put it toward buying a home, paying down debt or splurging on over-the-top holiday presents.

Want to ramp up your savings even more in 2018? CNBC Make Itrounded up five ways to boost your savings and put more cash back in your pocket — or your retirement fund.

Challenge yourself to zero-spend days

David of Zero Day Finance, who goes by only his first name online, uses a simple strategy to minimize his spending. The 26-year-old New Yorker commits to at least one “zero spend” day a week, during which he actively avoids buying anything, including a morning coffee or an item from the drug store.

David tracks his progress with the challenge on his blog, where he “collects” zero spend days and pushes himself to fit as many of them as possible into a week. By gamifying his spending, he stays motivated to save.

Since starting the challenge six months ago, David has saved $18,432, cutting his monthly spending from around $4,700 to $3,170. That’s a 33 percent decrease and saves him enough to max out his 401(k)

This simple going-out rule saves this reporter $3,600 each year

Cut out convenience

You’re not going to go broke buying coffee every morning. But if you’re hitting Starbucks, taking cabs and ordering takeout on a regular basis, it can start to make a dent in your budget. As financial expert and former CNBC television host Suze Orman says of costs like daily lattes and avocado toast: “It adds up big time.”

“Stop leasing cars, stop eating out, stop doing the things that’s wasting your money and makes your life easier, because in the long run it’s going to make it harder,” Orman told CNBC’s “Power Lunch” in June.

Take inventory of your spending habits and decide what’s worth the price of convenience and where you can make some cuts. Your morning latte might be worth giving up your Uber habit.

Pause before checkout

Cherie and Brian Lowe paid off more than $127,000 in debt in four years by working to both increase their income and pare down their expenses. While many larger factors contributed to their success, including building an emergency fund and rejiggering their tax withholdings, Cherie’s No. 1 money-saving trick is simple.

“Every time you check out at the grocery store, you need to look in your cart and find three to five items that you don’t need,” she tells CNBC Make It. “You will save $5 to $10 every time you shop without cutting a single coupon.”

The tactic, which could apply to online purchases as easily as in-person ones, works because it puts a barrier between placing items in your cart and actually paying for them. That shaves down your bills. 

Track your spending

If you don’t know where your money is going, it’s hard to see where you can spend less. Tracking your expenses lays everything bare: You know how much you spend on necessities, such as groceries, or non-essentials, like nights out.

Take it from Steve and Courtney Adcock, who set aside up to 70 percent of their combined income to retire in their 30s. If you want to bank half your income or more, the Adcocks recommend recording your purchases.

“We know exactly what we bring in and exactly what we spend — and on what,” says Adcock. “Knowing where our money goes is critical to maximizing our savings and pinpointing where we could probably cut back.”

They prefer using an Excel spreadsheet, but sites like Personal Capital, Mint and You Need a Budget will keep track of your purchases for you.

Make a list

Don’t go shopping blind. Believe me, I’ve been there: Cruising down the aisles of Target, it’s easy to throw in a bottle of shampoo here (I’ll use it eventually) or a pack of cute stationery there (It’s only $4!), but it all adds up. To combat this, I employ a simple trick: I make a list of exactly what I need before entering any store.

Prior to grocery shopping, I develop a meal plan and list out every ingredient I need. The same goes for CVS runs.

Focusing on my list puts me on a mission. It makes me want to grab only what I need so I can check everything off, rather than leisurely perusing every aisle, casually tossing items in my cart as I go

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