The Middle Class is Dying: Here’s How to Rise Ahead in the Aftermath

The Middle Class is Dying: Here’s How to Rise Ahead in the Aftermath

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

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There is no real middle class in America. It’s a myth you’re being sold.

You might have great pictures with cool filters on Instagram, lots of Facebook friends, a car or two, a reasonably nice home or new condo, and some great clothes. You might even have a great job with a nice salary. Yet, to say you are in the “middle class” might be a stretch.

It might feel good for many to envision themselves at least in the middle class. You’ve gotten somewhere, at least you aren’t at the bottom, right? But what does that really mean today?


The Pervasive Issue of Debt

For most, it means you’ve got a lot of debt. A LOT of debt. And you work a LOT. You may have some cool stuff, a five or even six-figure income — though you probably don’t have a lot left over after all the bills.

Some important questions to ask:

  • What’s your net worth?
  • How much surplus income do you have each month?
  • How set are you for retirement?
  • Are you on track to leave the legacy you want to?

I tackled some of the data on just how short Americans are coming up in this popular post on BiggerPockets. The bottom line is that with your mortgage, car payments, credit cards, insurance, and taxes, there’s usually nothing else leftover — at least not enough. Most people are working like crazy in the rate race. We get a few nice shiny things that make us feel good and a “middle class” title. But that isn’t nearly enough.

Related: America’s Middle Class is in Bad Financial Shape: Here’s How Real Estate Can Help

It’s generally not enough to retire well, if at all. It’s not enough to provide most with the freedom to spend as much time with the people they love as they’d like to. Or to spend more time on things that really matter to them.

The Bad News

The bad news is that it is going to get a lot worse for many who consider themselves middle class. Grant Cardone says, “The middle class is no longer a safe haven or the desirable destination it once was.” Some believe this middle class is effectively being pushed downwards and is evaporating to become a 99% and 1% situation. In fairness, Cardone says it’s not your spending problem, it’s your income problem. He says you no longer need to shoot for $120k a year — “In reality, you need to become a millionaire.” That’s the new middle class.

Some are spending too much on the wrong things (for now). Others have become minimalists. Either way, neither group is really enjoying life as much as they could and are not financially prepared for the future.


The Good News

The good news is that there is hope. I believe everyone is fully capable of changing this dynamic in their own lives and for their families. Yet, this is not the time to be complacent. You can’t get lost time back. And when it comes to money, time can be your best ally or worst enemy.

Related: Building Wealth: What Key Practices Separate Millionaires From the Middle Class?

Now, there is nothing wrong with having a minimalist life or working hard. Though if you want more time freedom, financial security, and most importantly, the ability to live to your full potential, you’ve got to get ahead in the money game.

One of the few ways that I know available to virtually everyone to change this dynamic in their lives for the better is real estate. Use real estate to build wealth and passive income. Real estate leverages the market, other people’s time and expertise, and can effectively bend time and money to your benefit.

There are many ways to get started in real estate. Choose one. Get going. Because time isn’t going to wait for you.

What do YOU think will happen with the American middle class in coming generations?

Leave your thoughts, questions, and opinions below!

The middle class is shrinking -- so what does that mean for the future of America's economy? Get the good and bad news here.