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"Are You Wealthy?" by Julie Jason

Originally published: July 14, 2023 (distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication)

Do you consider yourself wealthy? 

     Forty-eight percent of more than 1,000 adults between the ages of 21 and 75 surveyed recently answered "yes" when they were asked if they felt they were wealthy. The Charles Schwab Modern Wealth Survey, released in June, was conducted online in March 2023 (tinyurl.com/4zzkwsfw).

     I'm a firm believer in wealth as a broad concept, not limited to the bank account. Very simply, there is a lot more to life, including health, family, friends, free time, work -- and achieving one's purpose in life. 

     But, what about that cash? 

     The Schwab study found something interesting. The average net worth (including retirement funds held by employers, but not including any real estate) of those who said they felt either "very wealthy" or "somewhat wealthy" was $560,000. Not a million-plus, but just over about one-half of that amount. 

     When probed further, respondents did indeed define wealth broadly. When asked "What does wealthy mean to you?" only 32% said "money." Forty percent said "well-being." In response to a separate question, 61% said it was more important to have time than to have money.

     What about you? Where do you stand? Schwab's 10-question self-assessment will help you get some insight. There are no "wrong" answers. 

     The beginning part of the question for each of the following comparisons is "Please select which statement best describes how you think of wealth. To me wealth means ...":

     -- Having a fulfilling personal life OR working on my career.

     -- Not having to stress over money OR having more money than most people I know.

     -- Enjoying experiences OR owning many nice things.

     -- Having a healthy work-life balance OR maximizing my earnings even if it impacts my work-life balance.

     -- Being generous with loved ones now OR leaving an inheritance.

     -- Paying for experiences to spend time with my family now OR leaving an inheritance for my family.

     -- Being in good health OR being successful.

     -- Enjoying healthy relationships with family and loved ones OR having a lot of money.

     -- Having the flexibility of working where and how I want (in-person, hybrid, remote) OR having a higher salary.

     -- Spending money now to have more experiences OR sacrificing experiences now in order to save money for later.

     Schwab also asked survey respondents about planning. I'm not happy with what they found: 65% of those surveyed said they had no formal financial plan. Of that group:

     -- 44% said they didn't have enough money to need a plan. (My take: The less money you have, the more likely a plan will make a difference in your financial life.) 

     -- 21% said creating a plan seemed "too complicated." (My take: Make a simple plan that works for you. For example, review this month's spending. Are you satisfied with what you found? If not, create a plan to incorporate changes.) 

     -- 20% said they did not have enough time to develop a plan. (My take: Review where you are spending time and determine how to shuffle priorities.) 

     Thirty-five percent of the respondents had a formal plan. Almost all of them (92%) felt confident they would reach their goals. That's the rationale for putting some effort into planning. It will make life ever so much easier. . . 

     By the way, if you are still thinking numbers, here they are: 

     There are 5.3 million high-net-worth individuals living in the U.S., each having wealth of $1 million or more (including net investable assets -- property, cash and listed holdings -- minus any liabilities), according to the USA Wealth Report 2023 by Henley & Partners, a global leader in residence and citizenship by investment (tinyurl.com/ju2x72ms). In addition, there are 770 billionaires living in the U.S., each with wealth of $1 billion or more.