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How Much Money Do You Need To Be Wealthy?

Written by Nickel - 36 Comments

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How much money would you need to have before you’d feel “wealthy”? That was the topic of a recent survey of high net worth investors by Fidelity Investments, and the results were quite interesting.

The survey was based on 1,000 millionaire households, where “millionaires” were defined as having a minimum of $1M in net investable assets, excluding retirement accounts and real estate. Despite the $1M cutoff, the average net worth (again, in terms of investable assets) of those who were surveyed was actually $3.5M.

Overall, 42% of respondents reported that they didn’t feel wealthy despite having $1M+ in their savings account, investment portfolio, etc. When asked how much it would take for them to feel wealthy, the average response was $7.5M.

Yes, you read that right – 7.5 million dollars.

Assuming a safe withdrawal rate of 4% per year, that $7.5M portfolio would generate $300,000 in annual income. And that’s ignoring retirements savings as well as real estate values!

While I realize that a million dollars ain’t what it used to be, that number seems rather high to me. When I asked my wife how much she’d need to feel “wealthy,” she said somewhere between $1M-$2M, and that would include the value of our house as well as our retirement accounts. Interestingly, when I asked our 9 year old son how much money he thinks it takes to be rich, he thought for a moment and then replied $1.5M – I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. ๐Ÿ™‚

What about you?

How much in the way of “net investable assets” (i.e., money in the bank, stock market, etc.) would it take for you feel wealthy? Would a million dollars do it? More? Less? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Published on March 15th, 2011 - 36 Comments
Filed under: Retirement,Saving & Investing

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I’d feel wealthy the day I have enough saved up to support myself (not luxuriously) for the rest of my life — basically enough where I no longer have to work.

    Unfortunately, most people wont realize that they have accumulated enough until it is too late. For example, I have saved enough (I am wealthy), if I were to die next year — I have enough in saving to cover my expenses for a year. If I live to be 90 (another 55 years or so), well I’m not wealthy, yet, and need to continue working and saving.

    Perhaps the 42% of people in the survey are young millionaires (30s), so they are correct: they expect to live a long time and their networth isn’t enough (yet) for them to stop working…

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 4:57 pm
  2. BG: So, given your age (roughly 45, I guess?) and definition of wealthy, how much would it take?

    Comment by Nickel — Mar 15th 2011 @ 5:05 pm
  3. Nickel) I’m 35 — so for me, at this age, it would take about 3-5 million my guess (if I expect to live to be 90). Since I have nowhere near that amount, I need to continue working and saving.

    I just hope I have enough saved to stop working, before I get sick and die of something else (that causes me not to make it to 90).

    It is really hard to plan if you don’t know how long you are going to live. So you have to prepare for the “worst-case”, which is living a long-time, and for someone my age: living a long time with the expectation of no pensions, and no social security.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 5:51 pm
  4. Ahh, right. 35. Apparently I can’t do simple math. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Another huge part of the equation is what sort of lifestyle you support. The simpler your life, and less expensive your tastes, the less it takes to make you feel wealthy.

    Comment by Nickel — Mar 15th 2011 @ 6:09 pm
  5. I suspect what’s going on here is that effect where “wealthy” is defined as “having more money than I do.” Since you can always have more money, you never feel wealthy. There are a few people that escape this treadmill, but enough fall into the trap to show up as the “results” of the survey.

    I bet you don’t have $1-2M. If you did, your wife (and perhaps child) would think you needed $3-5M. If you had 3.5 you would think it takes $7-10M. Furthermore, none of the three of you are thinking about the fact that you already have more wealth than 99% of the world’s population.

    Not to throw stones or anything. I’m aiming for a couple mil myself.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 6:13 pm
  6. Steve: I’m fully aware of (and thankful for) the fact that we’re in such a good position relative to the rest of the world. See here:

    Comment by Nickel — Mar 15th 2011 @ 6:37 pm
  7. Steve) Oh, I do know I have more than 99% of the world population — but at the same time, I can’t survive on less than $5/day like 99% of the population (not in the USA anyhow).

    I just think the definition of ‘wealthy’ needs to be a function of age/life expectancy.

    A newborn (who expects to live to 90) with a networth of $1 million would not be as wealthy as an 89-year old who expects to die in a year with $50k saved up.

    Nickel) I do feel well-off, and am very gracious for what I have. But it isn’t enough for me to stop working, so I don’t consider myself wealthy yet. It be interesting to get more details on the survey and see what the average age was of the 42% group who didn’t consider themselves wealthy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 6:37 pm
  8. I’m with your wife. If it were just my husband and I, I think $1-1.5MM would be enough, but with 2 little kids, I guess I’d add another $1MM on top of that number.

    Interesting survey. I guess it’s all perspective. I’m sure millionaires don’t hang around at goodwill (at least most don’t), so they’re comparing themselves to their peers.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 7:07 pm
  9. I am 26 years old and my opinion that wealthy is 4 million in investable assets plus some real estate investments.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 7:35 pm
  10. The recession has had an effect on that number. Prior to the financial crisis, most people with a net worth in excess of $1 million said they needed a little under $5 million to truly feel wealthy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 8:30 pm
  11. I think $1 million would be a good start to making me feel wealthy. Between interest and other growth, I’m pretty sure I’d feel quite all right. But maybe that’s because I’m unmarried, no kids, and I’m only 26, so I have plenty of time to earn more.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 10:17 pm
  12. Wealth is relative and $1,000,000 of investable assets, while an inordinate amount for me to even imagine having won’t buy you the lifestyle that those who may already have think they should when being wealthy.

    $1mil of investable assets isn’t a lot when you spend $250K/yr NET which isn’t difficult to do:
    – $5k/mo mortgage payment – $60K/yr
    – $30K to $50K in property taxes
    – Two kids in private college $70K/yr on the low end
    – Lease payments probably in the $2k range
    Then normal expenses.

    I am not making excuses for them I am just saying that the basics FCN discusses (spending less than you earn) still affects those even in the upper 1% of America.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 15th 2011 @ 10:18 pm
  13. I would feel wealthy with 3 million. I am on my way to becoming debt free in 2.4 years. Im 23, married, no kids. I will own my house free and clear & I have zero other debts. It will be nowhere near a million, but I will feel like a million bucks. it will be the happiest moment of my life, lol. I will feel well off, but not wealthy. That will come later.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 3:36 am
  14. 7.5 million is enough to live fairly well off of interest alone at the anemic rates that things like savings accounts are giving now. Possibly the number has something to do with that? Being able to live (with a reasonably nice lifestyle) off a low-risk investment without touching the principle.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 8:33 am
  15. For me would be nice 200k , it will be option when I will be decide go to work or not.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 9:24 am
  16. I’ll be wealthy when I pay off my $80k house because then my rent or mortgage would be $0 per year and I could invest the $300 that I get in rent from my roommate

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 10:42 am
  17. I consider myself wealthy. I have a retirement income, house paid for and enough to pay my monthly bills and put a little away for the unexpected. I don’t take vacations, globetrotting around, or live rich. Our money pit is an aging dog for which we gladly pay the vet bills.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 10:59 am
  18. I’m wealthy now. I have food, shelter & clothing, in fact I could shed a few pounds, spend my time doing too many home projects, one of which has shown me that maybe I have too many items of clothing, besides able to put some money away for the future. I’m single around 40 making about the same a year — granted if married with a child, I’m sure I’d feel money pressures exponentially greater — yet, charity work has opened my eyes to my own prosperity. One organization I support is a micro-finance NGO working in places such as India, Uganda & Peru or tutoring work locally I did with some “Lost Boys of Sudan.”

    I’m not surprised by the WSJ article, for even when John D Rockefeller when ask how much was enough, replied “just a little bit more.” I’ll certainly not refuse future honest gains given, but I do think learning how to be content is the secret to an intangible sense of being wealthy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 2:43 pm
  19. I don’t measure wealth in terms of money. I grew up in a family without much money but I never felt poor. In fact, when we had soda in the house I felt wealthy, but only because we didn’t have it often.

    After basic needs (food, clothes, and shelter) are met, I really don’t think it’s about money – there’s always something else to buy, but so what? If you can buy stuff all the time it’s not special anymore. I enjoy having a little extra, but I think it’s all about joy in the small stuff. I don’t have a million dollars but that’s not one of my goals in life, thank goodness.

    I feel extremely wealthy right now – daffodils are coming up and I still have wood left in the shed. Kids are doing well, I don’t have to work right now and the house is clean (good enough, anyway). I’ll make a pot of coffee and some cheese scones and I bet Donald Trump never feels this rich.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 4:44 pm
  20. There was an article in this past months Atlantic about a similar study. Except the subjects were VERY wealthy…the minimum net worth was 25 million, with the average being 78 million. There were even 2 billionaires.

    What did they find? Almost no one felt financially secure. What’s really interesting is that most subjects claimed they would feel secure if they had one quarter more wealth than they currently possessed.

    I guess financial security is relative.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 16th 2011 @ 9:40 pm
  21. It all depends on what kind of life style you are planning to live after you retire. For me it works this way I take life expectancy and I add 5 years more Now because I’m 56 years old and I expect to live past 70. so 14 more years min. my life style require 3500x mo.
    so my personal numbers are. 14 years+5 years x 12 x $3500mo. =$798000.00
    If I live more (I hope not) there’s where my pension comes into play. So to feel secure financially I will need one million and right now I’m half way that number.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 21st 2011 @ 6:52 pm
  22. Aside from the fact that everyone has different opinions on what a good amount would be – I would feel wealthy as soon as my money/assets can make more income that I possibly could.

    For instance, if the most I can earn is 100K/yr at my job – then I would feel “wealthy” if I had enough money to earn more than 100K/yr in interest.

    Now, learning to live within those means so that you can spend all your time doing as you please is another story…

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 22nd 2011 @ 8:19 am
  23. I would say somewhere near $1.5 million would make me feel wealthy. $7.5 million is just absurd.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 26th 2011 @ 9:35 pm
  24. I like the Richistan scale– that’s 6-figures for middle class, 7 for upper-middle, 8 for affluent and 9 for wealthy. That’s in today’s USD. Billionaires are in a league of their own.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 27th 2011 @ 7:09 pm
  25. I’m 30. I have a goal of 10 million by 65 (or whatever the present value of that is at whatever age I am. Today that’s 3.5 million. I’m not there, so I don’t think I’m wealthy. My guess is about the time I get to 50 I will be sitting on 4-5 million, and I will feel more comfortable calling myself wealthy.

    Now all that said, I know that based on salary alone, I fit the definition of wealthy. When I can replace that salary with independent “wealth”, that’s when I’ll be wealthy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 30th 2011 @ 5:14 pm
  26. Why do we all have a fettish to be rich? We are all rich here in the US according to the world’s standards. Have any of you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul?

    Be kind to each other. Love your children, look at life, sieze the day, quit worrying if you have more than Sam or Joe or Marie or Sally. It won’t help you in the long run.This advise alone is worth more than the 10 million that everyone wants to have.

    If you want to be really wealthy, go buy a ticket for the biggest lottery, and then go outside and say’ “God, strike me with lighting”, because that is the likleyhood that you will have the winning number.

    This is the day that God hath made…let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 27th 2011 @ 12:21 pm
  27. pay off the morgage and still work would make me feel very wealthy but i would need four hundred and ten thousand dollars to do that and at 50 …not going to happen…

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 28th 2012 @ 11:12 pm
  28. I would feel good with 1 million. Hell, I would be happy with $500 bucks right about now.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 11th 2012 @ 3:11 am
  29. If the question is, “How much is enough? The answer for most people always has always been, “More.โ€ The posts here seem to support that.

    With slight modifications to the original quote, I am trying to adopt the following:

    “I’m working to change the concept of wealth to include health, relationships, mindset, living a grateful life and lastly money. I call it Wealth Care.”

    Comment by Anonymous — May 21st 2012 @ 11:31 am
  30. I have almost enough to retire. I thInk five million is a great number. You can pull 200k a year for almost 35 years with a small return. Good enough

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 17th 2012 @ 9:53 pm
  31. Hyper inflation is getting ready to change everything. Even Bill Gross is warning everyone of the coming disaster in the markets now.

    I am moving my asset allocation more heavily into gold and commodities. I do not think it will matter at this point who gets elected in Nov as the debt is going to take its toll on the markets over the next 3 years.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 21st 2012 @ 11:44 am
  32. I have about 2MM at age 54 and have retired, I lead a simple lifestyle and my nest egg actually increases each year as I do not even spend all of my dividend income.

    Anyone who says 2MM isn’t a lot of money, doesn’t have it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 29th 2013 @ 5:38 pm
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