How to Tell if You Are Wealthy

Emily Brandon

Many Americans with a net worth of over several million dollars don't consider themselves wealthy. A recent survey of 457 individuals with liquid assets of $3 million or more found that 40 percent don't perceive themselves to be wealthy. Among those who do feel wealthy, here's what convinced them that they are affluent.

Stop looking at price tags. Just over half (56 percent) of the millionaires surveyed came to consider themselves wealthy when they realized they could buy anything without money concerns, the Phoenix Marketing International survey commissioned by U.S. Trust found. The survey respondents typically have between $3 million and $5 million in investable assets (63 percent), approximately $5 to $10 million (27 percent), or more than $10 million (10 percent).

Hit a certain number. Some people have a specific number in mind that makes a person wealthy. Just over a third (36 percent) of millionaires say they became affluent when they accumulated a certain asset level. They typically defined this amount as having between $1 and $2 million saved (23 percent) or approximately $2 to $4 million (28 percent). A few investors think you need between $5 and $10 million (15 percent) or more than $10 million (4 percent) before you become truly wealthy.

Support a family. Most people say an important way they use their wealth is to provide financial security for themselves and their relatives (90 percent). Some 18 percent of those surveyed say they realized they were affluent when they became able to adequately support a family. But that doesn't always include passing on wealth to heirs. Only about half (49 percent) of those surveyed consider leaving a financial inheritance to the next generation an important financial goal. And just a third (34 percent) of these affluent investors feel confident that their children will be able to properly handle any inheritance left to them.

Pursue a passion. Many millionaires report first feeling wealthy when they became able to pursue an interest or passion (14 percent). These individuals say they plan to use their wealth to travel (64 percent) or have fun (36 percent). Many people also plan to continue working in retirement (46 percent) or volunteer in their community (55 percent).

Comparisons with others. Some people don't feel wealthy until they have more money than their friends, neighbors, and peers. A few of the millionaires surveyed say they first felt wealthy when they compared themselves to someone else they considered wealthy (9 percent) or bought a home in a particular neighborhood (9 percent).


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