CNN has this nifty calculator where you can find out if you are in the middle class where you live.
While the value of this information is limited, I do think it helps to understand where you stand in your community, particularly living somewhere like L.A., where living costs are high, but incomes vary.
I'm practically as middle class as one can get, which surprised me a little because I don't feel middle class. Not that I feel dirt poor either, but I guess working class or lower middle class is more what I thought we were.
Of course, it begs the question, what it does mean to be middle class? To me, it means that one doesn't have to struggle to meet their daily/monthly needs. Crazy, but I feel like like we're there...which I wouldn't have said just a few years ago.
I think it's important, however, to stick to that scarcity mentality one has to develop when their income is less than middle. Even if/when you've reached middle or beyond, it doesn't matter how much your annual income is; there is still a limit.
If discovering you're middle class or above comes as a shock, that might be a sign of not practicing enough scarcity mentality.
This is why I like the Warren/Tyagi method in All Your Worth: The Ultimate Life Money Plan. If you can keep your needs (housing, food, transportation, monthly bills) to 50% of your income, then save 20%, you can use 30% towards wants. I'm still not there yet, but I like using that as my ultimate goal.
If I actually got there, I might even feel like I'm in the middle class.