What It Means to Be ‘Wealthy’ in America Today
The rich don’t really think they’re rich. In a new survey, the vast majority of investors with $1 million in assets don’t consider themselves wealthy. Which brings up the question: What do the terms rich and wealthy really mean?
A new report from UBS surveyed investors who on the surface all appear to be pretty well off. Of the survey’s 4,450 participants, half had $1 million or more in investable assets, and all had at least $250,000 in investments. Compared with the huge portion of the population that barely has any savings — about half of Americans don’t have an emergency fund that’d cover three months of expenses — it sure seems like the people in the survey are doing quite well financially. But do these people think they’re rich? For the most part, the answer is no.
Of those with investable assets worth $1 million to $5 million, only 28% answered yes to the question “Do you consider yourself wealthy?” The majority of investors surveyed with $5 million or more in investable assets consider themselves wealthy, but perhaps not in the overwhelming numbers you might imagine: just 60% answered yes to the question. In other words, 4 in 10 Americans with assets of $5 million or more think they’re not truly rich.
What would have to happen for these individuals to consider themselves rich? Well, that’s another question asked in the UBS survey. The most popular answer, selected by half of those surveyed, was “no financial constraints on activities.” The idea that you’re rich, then, seems to have a lot to do with what kinds of things you’d like to do, rather than hitting some specific asset or income number.