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Over the last couple of years, we’ve been faced with the cold hard truth that middle-class status no longer necessarily equals financial independence. Our parents in that stratum could buy a home, a car, save for our school tuition and have money left over to invest, but exploding tuition, home prices, healthcare expenses, and other costs have put the squeeze on middle-income families. And while their median income may have increased somewhat over the last forty years, their ranks are shrinking: According to a 2020 report by the Pew Research Center, the number of U.S. adults in middle-income households dropped from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2019. Additionally, most major cities where the majority of middle-class earners reside have been priced out for those earners, so more and more families are forced to buy above their means.
In short, being middle class is no longer a sufficient goal; it’s time to push past any invisible boundaries that keep us from becoming wealthy.
Alter your approach to the day job
The 9-to-5 position that paid our grandparents and parents enough money to live in a sizeable home in the suburbs is increasingly unlikely to do that now, even if it includes benefits and a pension. So, think about ways of letting it go. Begin by writing down what you are passionate about, and investigate ways of earning an income doing it. If you love writing, for example, start doing it on the side and focus free time on how to push those earnings further. Soon enough, you may notice that this “side gig” is starting to pay more than your office job, and will then be left with the happy decision of whether to leave it.
Related: How the 9-to-5 Came to Be and Why It No Longer Makes Sense (Infographic)
Embrace education flexibility
Learning can be truly enjoyable, especially when its focus is on a passion rather than simply being a means to an end. Our parents likely told us that in order to make more money, we needed more schooling, but the empowering reality is that there’s virtually nothing you can absorb in a classroom that you can’t by embracing a hands-on approach. If the goal is financial independence, you can teach yourself just about everything needed from books or audiobooks, through online courses, and/or simply spending free time focusing on what you love to do. Many of the world’s wealthiest people are dropouts who discovered their thunderstrike idea without a graduate degree.
The hard truth is that — to name but one profession — you can take the LSAT, become a lawyer, and possibly get the respect that comes with it, but your income will still be capped. You’ll also have mass amounts of debt, …….