NOTE: If you’re pursuing financial independence, you’re going to want to adjust the percentage of money you put away to savings when you implement your plan. You can choose to save around 65% like Mad Fientist suggests, or you can choose to put half your paycheck into your savings like PoF encourages. Or you could go a different route. It’s all up to you and your savings goals.
Humans back to and including the Cro-Magnons seem to have had clearly defined rulers and status hierarchies. Digs in Russia at the Sungir Archaeological Site have revealed elaborate funeral clothing on a man and a pair of children buried there approximately 28,000 years ago. This indicates a considerable accumulation of wealth by some individuals or families. The high artisan skill also suggest the capacity to direct specialized labor to tasks that are not of any obvious utility to the group's survival.
The middle class encompasses individuals whose financial situation falls in between those of the upper and lower classes. Generally, the population of America associates themselves as middle class. Lifestyle is a means for which individuals or families decide what to consume with their money and their way of living. The middle class places a greater emphasis on income: unlike the upper class, the middle class measures success and potential in the form of money rather than influence and power. The middle class views wealth as something for emergencies and it is seen as more of a cushion. This class comprises people that were raised with families that typically owned their own home, planned ahead and stressed the importance of education and achievement. They earn a significant amount of income and also have significant amounts of consumption. However, there is very limited savings (deferred consumption) or investments, besides retirement pensions and home ownership. They have been socialized to accumulate wealth through structured, institutionalized arrangements. Without this set structure, asset accumulation would likely not occur.
Assuming you are doing pretty well and are happy with your current standard of living, what would you need to maintain your standard of living in retirement? Knowing you are on track to accumulate a nest egg to support that lifestyle is a big win. Gold medals go to those who have accumulated enough assets, or passive income streams, to be in a position to retire well.