10 Signs You’re Doing Better Financially Than the Average Middle-Class American

From income to retirement, let’s look at how your finances stack up against the average middle-class American.
Updated April 9, 2024
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While pay transparency laws are becoming more common, money is still a taboo topic for many people. If you don’t talk openly about your income, debt, and spending, you may be wondering how your financial fitness measures up.

Here are some figures to help you explore how you’re doing compared to the average middle-class American.

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You have more than $5,300 in your savings account

Jess_Ivanova/Adobe woman holding money at cash desk

The median amount for American savings accounts is $5,300. If your savings account has more than that — you’re sitting pretty compared to the average middle-class American.

Despite economic waves over the years, Americans have saved more each year than the last since the Federal Reserve started tracking this data in 1959.

You have more than $2,900 in your checking account

Andrey Popov/Adobe business woman signing cheque

The median for American checking accounts sits at $2,900. This is the account where most people receive direct deposits and pay rent and grocery bills. If you have more than that after paying all your obligations, you’re likely doing better than the average middle-class family.

You’re going to inherit more than $60,000

chokniti/Adobe father giving advice to son outdoors

Over 20% of U.S. households receive an inheritance, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances in 2022. The average American inherited nearly $60,000. That’s not to say everyone or even the majority of people will inherit money, but if you do, and it’s over $60,000, you’re doing better than average.

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Your raise in 2023 was more than 4.4%

Charnchai saeheng/Adobe agent giving money to client

According to a survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, raises in 2023 barely outpaced the rate of inflation. If you were one of the lucky employees who received a raise that was over 4.4%, you should feel confident that you’re doing better than a good portion of your peers.

Your kids go to private school

Monkey Business/Adobe mother preparing son for school

Private schools can cost $10,000 and up per year in tuition. That doesn’t account for any uniforms, fundraising, or other activity costs. While some students may receive scholarships or tuition reductions due to household income, it’s safe to say if your kids are attending private school, you are most likely doing better than the average middle-class American.

Your income is more than $97,650

Jacob Lund/Adobe happy family celebrating american independence day

You may have heard experts say things like, “The middle class is shrinking.” Unfortunately, statistics show this is true. In 1971, the middle class made up 61% of earners. In 2021, the middle class made up 50% of earners.

The median income for a family of four is $97,650. While this will vary widely due to factors like education, career, and location, if you’re earning six figures or above, you’re doing pretty well for yourself.

You make more than $1,145 per week

fizkes/Adobe happy african american businessman at work

In January 2024, the median weekly earnings were $1,145, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This number equates to just under $60,000 per year. This number doesn’t account for taxes, retirement contributions, or other household earners — it’s just based on the gross earnings for a full-time working individual.

You have more than $87,000 saved for retirement

K Seisa/peopleimages.com/Adobe couple reviewing budget together

Only about 30% of Americans feel like they’re on track for retirement savings. As of 2022, the median amount Americans have saved for retirement is $87,000. While that figure isn’t enough to retire on for most people, it’s a good place to start. Retirement savings build as you let it sit untouched and compound over decades.

You have less than $44,968 in student loan debt

kucherav/Adobe happy woman paying bills using phone

Based on a 2023 study, the average middle-class American holds $44,968 in student loan debt. If you’re carrying balances below that amount or have zero student loan debt, you’re ahead of the game.

While high earners carry a large portion of student loan balances (think doctors, lawyers, etc), average middle-class Americans are still burdened by five figures of student loan debt.

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You can comfortably spend more than $1,600 per month on groceries

Prostock-studio/Adobe happy african american family doing grocery

Food is the third-biggest expense for most households. For a family of four, the USDA recommends a grocery budget of $1,300 to $1,600. Food prices have been increasing over the last few years, with 2022 being one of the highest increases since the 1970s, at 9.9%. If you’re enjoying steak or other premium grocery items regularly, you’re doing better than most.

Pro tip: Explore ways to save money on groceries to help your grocery dollars stretch further.

Bottom line

Charlize D/peopleimages.com/Adobe mature african american couple reviewing budget

Most of these statistics use the median rather than the true average. High-income earners tend to skew the statistics when you average out all the amounts. The median offers a more accurate look at where the middle of the road is when it comes to earnings, debt, and savings.

Remember, finances are deeply personal and depend on your lifestyle and needs — your situation and goals may look different than your neighbors. If you’re feeling a little behind, see if you can find ways to boost your bank account and save more money. 

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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