Are You Rich? Here's What Americans Think You Need To Be Considered Wealthy (2024)

Jeannine Mancini

·4 min read

Are You Rich? Here's What Americans Think You Need To Be Considered Wealthy (1)

In the United States, the concept of being rich is often a subject of discussion, curiosity and, sometimes, aspiration. Charles Schwab's 2023 Modern Wealth Survey provides insights into this topic, revealing that the average American equates being wealthy with a net worth of approximately $2.2 million.

Although the most recent data from the Federal Reserve reveals the average American household is a millionaire with a net worth of $1.06 million, looking at the median or midpoint value portrays a more accurate picture. Based on the October report from the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of U.S. households overall is $192,900.

But how spot-on are Americans’ perceptions of wealth?

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Wealth In America: The Numbers

Top 2% wealth: The top 2% of Americans have a net worth of about $2.472 million, aligning closely with the surveyed perception of wealth.

Top 5% wealth: The next tier, the top 5%, has a net worth of around $1.03 million.

Top 10% wealth: The top 10% of the population has a net worth of approximately $854,900.

These figures illustrate a dramatic wealth gradient in the U.S., indicating a substantial increase in net worth needed to move from the top 10% to the top 2%.

Understanding Wealth Beyond Numbers

Wealth is not solely about the figures in your bank account or investment portfolio; it's also about how you perceive and use your resources. Here are some tips and perspectives to understand and potentially achieve wealth.

Savings and spending habits: Being able to save, that is, spending less than you earn, is a foundational aspect of accumulating wealth. Establishing robust financial habits like budgeting and goal-setting can pave the way to wealth, regardless of the specific dollar amount.

Living below your means: In a world where consumerism is rampant, living below your means is a key principle. This might involve cutting unnecessary expenses, like reducing monthly subscriptions or dining out less frequently. Such habits not only bolster savings but also prepare you for financial emergencies.

Affording desires: The ability to save and spend wisely often leads to the capacity to afford what you desire, whether it is a new vehicle or a vacation. Achieving financial goals is a strong indicator of wealth.

Life goals over money: Wealth is not just about accumulating money but also about fulfilling life aspirations. Whether it's running a business, becoming debt-free or saving for retirement, having a clear vision is crucial.

Preparing for retirement: A key aspect of being wealthy is having a solid retirement plan. This involves understanding how much to save and starting early to build a financial foundation for the golden years.

Money as a tool: Viewing money as a means to improve your life, rather than a source of stress, can shift your approach to wealth. Small steps like allocating extra funds toward high-interest debt can help in building a brighter financial future.

Flexibility and options: Wealth often equates to having choices — whether it's taking time off for family, investing in a business idea or learning a new skill. This flexibility is a significant indicator of wealth.

A Subjective Concept

While having a net worth of about $2.2 million is seen as the benchmark for being rich in America, it's essential to remember that wealth is a subjective concept. Healthy financial habits and personal perspectives on money are crucial in defining and achieving wealth. By focusing on smart financial planning and aligning money with personal values and goals, people can navigate their path toward what they consider to be wealthy.

Financial advisers can provide tailored advice and strategies to help achieve specific financial goals. Leveraging their expertise, people can effectively pursue their unique definition of wealth, encompassing asset growth, retirement security and other financial aspirations.

Read Next: You asked, we answered. Can living off interest from a $1 million investment support my retirement dreams?

*Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications, including Zacks, The Nest and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes that the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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Are You Rich? Here's What Americans Think You Need To Be Considered Wealthy (2024)


Are You Rich? Here's What Americans Think You Need To Be Considered Wealthy? ›

In the United States, the concept of being rich is often a subject of discussion, curiosity and, sometimes, aspiration. Charles Schwab's 2023 Modern Wealth Survey provides insights into this topic, revealing that the average American equates being wealthy with a net worth of approximately $2.2 million.

What do most Americans consider rich? ›

That's how financial advisors typically view wealth. The average American, on the other hand, sees $774,000 as a sufficient net worth to be financially comfortable and a net worth of $2.2 million to be wealthy, according to Schwab.

What is considered wealthy and what is considered rich? ›

While people may use the terms “rich” and “wealthy” interchangeably, there can be a slight difference. We tend to use the word “rich” to refer to anyone with a lot of money to spend, even if they've gained it recently. On the other hand, “wealthy” more often refers to affluence that crosses generations.

What is wealthy What does being wealthy mean to you? ›

There is a difference between being rich and being wealthy in terms of money and financial resources. • Being rich typically means having a lot of possessions and material wealth, while being wealthy is more about having sustainable and lasting wealth.

Are you richer than you think a surprising number of people consider themselves poor but they re actually in the top 10 of earners? ›

The report, based on interviews and a nationwide survey of over 1,000 Americans who earn at least $175,000 annually — placing them in the top 10% of U.S. tax filers — reveals that a quarter of respondents view themselves as "very poor," "poor" or just "getting by." This sentiment persists despite their high incomes, ...

At what point are you considered wealthy? ›

According to Schwab's 2023 Modern Wealth Survey, its seventh annual, Americans said it takes an average net worth of $2.2 million to qualify a person as being wealthy. (Net worth is the sum of your assets minus your liabilities.)

At what point are you considered rich? ›

Schwab's 2022 Modern Wealth Survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 21 to 75, revealed that it takes a net worth of $2.2 million to be considered wealthy.

Is 100k considered wealthy? ›

Earning more than $100,000 per year would put you well ahead of the median American household, which brings in $74,784 as of 2021. Assuming you're an individual without dependents, that salary would qualify you as upper class, according to three different definitions (Brookings, Urban Institute and Pew Research).

What is the difference between rich and wealthy income? ›

A rich person may derive their income from just one or two streams. For example, they may work a full-time job or run a business. Their income is typically entirely dependent on them doing some type of work to earn money. Wealthy people often have more than one stream of income.

Is a millionaire still considered rich? ›

Only 8% of investors with $1 million consider themselves wealthy, a recent report from Ameriprise Financial found. Instead, 60% categorized themselves as upper middle class, and a notable 31% considered themselves middle class. The study revealed wealth is more than just hitting a specific dollar number or lifestyle.

Why is it rude to say someone is rich? ›

It is a description of your finances. Most people do not want to be recognized that way.

What is the difference between rich people and poor people? ›

Rich men are planners, while poor men live day-to-day. Successful men take the time to think ahead and plan their financial future. They save and invest with the long-term in mind. Poor men generally don't make financial plans and struggle to think about tomorrow.

What does a wealthy person do? ›

The wealthy invest in retirement consistently, and they also invest in education. They take care of their health and, more often than not, pay their healthcare bills without incurring medical debt. They also tend to purchase high-quality products and food.

Is Millionaire upper middle class? ›

60% of those millionaires identify as upper middle class, while 31% interestingly identify themselves as just middle class. Surprisingly, a large number of millionaires reside comfortably in the middle class, revealing an oddly curious disconnect between their sense of self and their financial security.

What is the poor people mentality about money? ›

A poor mindset is a limited perspective on wealth and a belief that your situation is unchangeable. People with a poor mindset often live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to make ends meet. They may lack financial literacy and have a negative relationship with money.

Why do rich people think they're better than poor people? ›

"Individuals with relatively high social class were more overconfident, which in turn was associated with being perceived as more competent and ultimately more hirable, even though, on average, they were no better at the trivia test than their lower-class counterparts," Belmi said.

What percentage of Americans have a net worth of over $1000000? ›

Additionally, statistics show that the top 2% of the United States population has a net worth of about $2.4 million. On the other hand, the top 5% wealthiest Americans have a net worth of just over $1 million. Therefore, about 2% of the population possesses enough wealth to meet the current definition of being rich.

How rich is the average American? ›

Net worth is the difference between the values of your assets and liabilities. The average American net worth is $1,063,700, as of 2022. Net worth averages increase with age from $183,500 for those 35 and under to $1,794,600 for those 65 to 74.

Is a net worth of 3 million good? ›

And while that may seem like a lot of money, high-net-worth individuals — those with more than $1 million in investable assets — believe they will need more than double that to retire comfortably, with the average person in this pool estimating they will need $3 million.

What is considered upper class? ›

Middle class: Those in the 40th to 60th percentile of household income, ranging from $55,001 to $89,744. Upper middle class: Households in the 60th to 80th percentile, with incomes between $89,745 and $149,131. Upper class: The top 20% of earners, with household incomes of $149,132 or more.

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