Just How Out of Touch Are Most American Millionaires?

Do you have a million dollars?  If the answer is yes, feel free to buy me a new car, I need one.  If the answer is no, then you’re in the majority of people in the world – most of us are simply not millionaires.  But suppose you were a millionaire, how would you describe yourself?  Are you part of America’s lower class?  Surely not.  So are you middle class?  Upper middle class?  Would you dare call yourself wealthy?  If you’re like the majority of American millionaires, you’re going to mind-blowingly pick middle class.

According to a CNBC Millionaire survey, most millionaires in America identify as middle class.  44% just straight up call themselves middle class, while another 40% at least have the decency to call themselves “Upper” middle class.  If you think they’re upper class or rich, you sure don’t have a million dollars since only 4% of millionaires use the terms “rich” or “wealthy” and only 5% would say “upper class.”

So let’s be fair, is a million dollars what it used to be?  Maybe not.  Maybe these people literally only have one million dollars and, later today when they go out and buy some milk and eggs, they’re going to be just under a million.  That’s fine.  How about millionaires who have over $5 million?  49% of them think they’re upper middle class, while 23% still consider themselves just middle class.  A mere 11% consider themselves rich or wealthy.

I can barely afford gold toilet seats!

Are the millionaires right?  What constitutes “middle class” these days anyway?  For the most part, middle class is that which sits between working class and upper class, which is managers and professionals, generally speaking. Your lawyers, accountants, podiatrists; the sorts of people who got a college degree and pursued their field.  Is your podiatrist a millionaire?  Probably not.

Financially speaking, if you want a loose definition of “middle class,” you’re talking about a dual income family that makes somewhere between $40,000 and $90,000 a year.  It’s a big range, and that’s just one definition.  It’s not a million bucks, mind you.  Not even after a decade of not spending a red cent is it a million dollars.  So why the hell do millionaires think they’re middle class?

Two explanations were offered for why millionaires come to the zany conclusions that they’re basically just average people – the first is the fact millionaires just don’t get it.  If you seriously have a million dollars and live the life of someone with a million dollars, whether you recognize it or not (you obviously don’t), you don’t get it.  You don’t get that the average household income in America is about $51,000.  If that number sees high to you, it’s because the top 25% of Americans make over $85,000 a year and 4% make over $200,000.  A fairly large percentage are making $30,000 or less.  But why should millionaires know any of that?

The other explanation is that a large number of millionaires in America are self made – these people actually worked their way up by starting their own businesses, creating a product or whatever it might have been, and still see themselves the way they were when they started.  They feel they worked hard and have the same values as they did their whole lives and, despite having more money, still feel like they’re middle class.  But the thing is, both of these explanations may account for why millionaires think the way they do, but it doesn’t make them right.

These are all fives!  I'm so poor!

So now whenever you hear about the divide between the rich and the poor, you have a concrete example of just how weird it is – the rich don’t just think differently than you, they think they are you.  So when you hear about rich people putting their foot in their mouth or suggesting impractical and outlandish ideas for us regular folks, it’s because they think they’re regular people too, and if they can do it, why can’t the rest of us?