What Does Wealth Mean to You?

by J. Money - Published June 6, 2018

peaceful tropical water

A friend of mine passed me this link on how much you need to be “wealthy” in America (shocker: it’s in the millions!), but the stats that were included were the real gems here…

It comes from Charles Schwab’s second annual “Modern Wealth Index” survey, and I challenge you to really think about this and then compare to your own lists at home :)

But first – the “number” you “need” to be financially comfortable in this great country of ours? Which as we all know is nonsense if you’re completely omitting the *expenses* side of the equation??

To be financially comfortable in America today requires an average of $1.4 million, up from $1.2 million a year ago, according to the survey. The net worth needed to be “wealthy”? That’s an average $2.4 million, the same as last year in the online survey of 1,000 Americans between age 21 and 75.

Don’t tell Mr. Money Mustache or 80% of all other early retiree bloggers this ;)

The article then goes on to list the rankings of what people feel “wealth” means to them:

  • 28% Living stress-free/Peace of mind
  • 18% Being able to afford anything I want
  • 17% Loving relationships with family, friends
  • 14% Enjoying life’s experiences
  • 11% Having lots of money
  • 7% Having good health
  • 2% Being charitable
  • 3% Other

I’m actually surprised at the first one as I always thought I was unique in saying “peace of mind” myself, but I’m glad I’m not the only one as it really is the key to happiness! When you’re stress-free it means ALL the areas in your life are going pretty well! Health/love/career/money – you name it. You either have to be high or delusional if you’re feeling content when any one area is majorly jacked up, haha… And unfortunately money doesn’t solve everything.

The article then listed out all the things that people said made for a “rich daily life”, which was equally interesting to see:

  • 62% Spending time with family
  • 55% Taking time for myself
  • 49% Owning a home
  • 41% Meals out/meals delivered
  • 33% Subscription services (Netflix/Spotify/etc)
  • 29% Grooming/pampering
  • 27% Having the latest tech gadgets
  • 22% Shopping at specialty grocery stores
  • 21% Having a busy social life
  • 21% Driving a luxury car
  • 17% Gym membership/personal trainer
  • 12% Using a home cleaning service
  • 10% Using car service/not public transport
  • 4% Other

There’s literally only three on that list that I personally only care for (spending time with friends and family, taking time for myself, having a busy (fun!) social life), but there was also a handful of things left out that I’d def. list: coin collecting, reading, going on walks – or hell, just not having to think about money at all! Wouldn’t that be nice? Just waking up and doing whatever you want without having to worry or think about $$$ in the least? (It would probably also mean this blog would cease to exist, but hey – pros and cons ;))

I was also surprised that “owning a home” was so high on the list too. I know a lot of people love owning, and rightfully so, but wow does it beat out a lot of the other things listed there! Def. seems that people have their priorities right though looking at that top section!

The real question now is whether people are *actually putting their money/time* towards them?! It’s easy to say what’s important to you, but a whole other to actually follow through with it :)

For today only though I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, haha…

Here’s the article again if you want to dive in deeper: How Much Money Do You Need to Be Wealthy in America? And then here’s my feisty response to all these “how much you need” calculations that come up over time that never cease to amaze me: Finally – The Magic Number You Need to Retire!!

Where do you fall on these lists? Would you rank your priorities similarly to those above? How do you gauge “wealth” in your lives?

The beautiful part is that we’re all allowed to use our money however we well please, but if you’re not happy with where it’s gotten you so far, I do hope you’re brave enough to stop and switch gears. And you know we’re all here to help and encourage you when you do!! We love this money stuff!

So keep on pushing for what you want over there… Doesn’t matter what it is, just so long as you’re inching closer to it!

Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Accidental FIRE June 6, 2018 at 5:35 am

I read that article when it came out and also shook my head. Net Worth doesn’t matter if you don’t consider expenses, just ask MC Hammer and a looooong list of other celebs.

And seeing “18% Being able to afford anything I want” as #2 on the list is no surprise. Too bad it’s that high and charity and good health are at the bottom.

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2 Erik @ The Mastermind Within June 6, 2018 at 6:45 am

True wealth to me is to be able to do what I want with my money and time – and to be able to live with stresses which I’ve created (vs. an employer or other people have created!) I guess that puts me in the majority.

On the “rich daily life” list, there’s only 3 I liked as well – interesting stuff!

Keep the great content coming J!

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3 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 9:43 am

“to be able to live with stresses which I’ve created” – interesting way to think of it!

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4 Erik @ The Mastermind Within June 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm

For example, you’ve created a life where you aren’t tied to a corporate job – but that being said, you have 3 little ones running around which I’m sure get your blood boiling once in a while :)

You quite literally created them!

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5 J. Money June 7, 2018 at 11:26 am

yeah I did! (hubba hubba)

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6 FullTimeFinance June 6, 2018 at 7:03 am

For me wealth is simply not having money as an impediment or stress related to the things I value. I’d say the first two and travel would be the top three.

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7 John C June 6, 2018 at 7:05 am

I think being able to “enjoy life’s experiences” would hit the top of my list, and for me (and pretty much all FI bloggers) the ability to do that is not tied to a certain net worth number, and if it was it would be MUCH lower than 1.4 Million. Actually Mrs. C. and I are doing pretty good at feeling wealthy with over a million less than that ;)

Taking control of your time is the best way to do this. Even while pursuing FI with a 40%+ savings rate I work less than half the year and Mrs. C works roughly 20 hours per week. This allows us to take better control of our time. She runs our kids cub scout pack, goes to virtually all their field trips, and I have the summers off with the kids. We’re able to do family fun stuff on weekdays, which cuts crowd levels down substantially further allowing us to enjoy our time.

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8 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 9:44 am

LOVE IT!!! You’ve figured out the Good Life man, and your kids will be the ones benefiting the most from it!! :)

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9 Marc June 6, 2018 at 7:24 am

To me wealth means not stressing or worrying about money. That would mean that regardless of how much money you have your make, you’re managing it and not blowing through it. I agree with some of the other comments that how much you have is only part of the picture.

That list of what makes a rich daily life is pretty surprising to me. Things like having meals delivered, grooming/pampering, shopping at specialty stores, and using a car service are not things I would even think of listing.

My priorities would be (in no particular order) spending time with family, having time for myself, being able to work on my own terms, and having money to give to causes that I believe in.

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10 Caroline June 6, 2018 at 7:26 am

33% Subscription services (Netflix/Spotify/etc). Seriously?
Wealth to me is “Having the choice to do whatever I want without having to worry about the financial impact” .

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11 Bryan June 6, 2018 at 7:53 am

Without health NONE of this matters.

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12 Lisa O June 6, 2018 at 11:48 am

You are so right!

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13 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Yup, pretty much haha…

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14 Debbie June 8, 2018 at 12:35 am

Health is most important. Physical and mental. All the $$ in the world can’t solve all of life’s problems. Look at Kate Spade this week for one example.

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15 Bryan June 8, 2018 at 8:20 am

Indeed Deb! I just woke up to read that Anthony Bourdain killed himself. Without Physical, Psychological, and Spiritual health absolutely NONE of this will matter one bit. It’s astonishing to see that people that seem to “have it all” choose suicide. They have wealth, fame, fortune, friends, family…everything. And these are just public figures that don’t take into account all of the “regular” people that commit suicide every day. Life is such a delicate balancing act.

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16 J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:53 am

I just saw that – so shocked!! Seemed so full of life, and knew how to GET THE MOST out of life! This stuff is no joke… I can’t even comprehend it all.

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17 Bryan June 9, 2018 at 7:58 am

An article from the BBC: “While there is no single factor that leads to suicide, Dr Stone says relationship issues and financial troubles tend to be top factors contributing to suicide across the country.”

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18 Debbi June 11, 2018 at 7:44 am

Obviously they didn’t have financial problems. Kate & Anthony must have been at the end of their ropes to do this, no pun intended. She had a 13 yr old daughter & he had an 11 year old. It’s the kids that suffer the most. Sad.

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19 Debbi June 8, 2018 at 12:36 pm

I heard that too. Incredible. Last night, the news reported suicides are up 30% since 1999. It’s now the tenth leading cause of death with 45,000 suicides in 2016. It outnumbers homicides. I heard a report that said Kate Spade was fixated when Robin Williams hung himself & now she’s done the same thing. You’re right about people we think “have it all”….life really is fragile.

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20 Leo T. Ly June 6, 2018 at 8:01 am

I guess this time I am going with the majority – peace of mind. If I don’t have any money worries, then I already feel wealthy. What’s the point of having all this wealth if you can’t share it with people around you? A close second will be health and relationships.

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21 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance June 6, 2018 at 8:04 am

Being wealthy to me means we don’t have to worry about making ends meet and can have the option to live a luxurious life although we might choose not to.

$2.4M sounds like a lot of money. Hubby and I will try to get there one step at a time ;)

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22 Brian June 6, 2018 at 8:29 am

Wealth isn’t just about a certain number in a bank account, I consider the complete package including what you make of your life, who you surround yourself with, and your health. Sure having a plan for your money, staying out of debt, saving etc will help reduce stress, but there’s more to money to consider in the total equation.

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23 Worker Bee June 6, 2018 at 8:39 am

For me, money equals security. I can take care of myself and those I love. Money also equals independence. Those things are made possible with money, but they are PRICELESS.

As for what makes a “rich daily life,” I count my house (sorry, Jay!), my gym membership, and my car, which is not a luxury brand but which is relatively new and has great safety features. On a minor scale, I love my internet connection and my Alexa. Things I have had for some time now but still deeply appreciate are my college education, enough clothes in the closet, and enough food in the fridge.

I never got any financial education when I was young, and money was dismissed as “unimportant.” Money itself may be unimportant, but it sure helps us take care of the things that are important.

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24 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Amen on security and internet! :)

(And a double Amen on you educating yourself on $$$ now since it was lacking in childhood! Good for you!!!)

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25 Dads Dollars Debts June 6, 2018 at 8:49 am

Yes please be brave enough to stop and switch gears if not happy. This is probably.the hardest thing to do but the most important. I have done it a few times (yup a few times) but look back and know I did it…always moving forward and making progress.

As for wealth, 2.4 mil would make me pretty comfrotable. So let’s aim for that! Benefit of a high paying job.

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26 Adam June 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

“Peace of mind” is pretty much it. Full stop.

If I’ve taken one thing away from the whole FI interblagosphere over the last five years, it’s that the easiest way to “be able to afford anything I want” is to really consider how these wants will affect my life… then let the silliest of them (roughly 95%) drift away like fog burning off a lake at sunrise. The rest pops into much clearer focus, both attainable and fulfilling.

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27 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Bingo.

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28 Joe June 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

The chart is pretty interesting. It seems I’m considered wealthy, but I don’t feel wealthy. That’s the problem with opinions. Being wealthy means having more money than you already have. If they poll millionaires, the number would be much higher. Nowadays, I think wealthy means $10 million. Anyway, you don’t need to be wealthy to have a rich life. You can have a rich fulfilling life without being rich.

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29 onepointfivemillion June 6, 2018 at 10:36 am

I’m surprised TIME wasn’t listed in the wealth. That’s one of the main concepts of FI.

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30 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Very true!!! Totally missed that one myself! Although “Spending time with family” and “Taking time for myself” are listed at #1 and #2.. Which are both things you’d do with extra time, so it is covered to a degree.

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31 Ben June 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

My personal definition of wealth is being able to do what you want (whether it be work, travel, sit on the couch, etc.), without having to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to pay the bills now or at any point in your future if you didn’t earn another dime.

“They” always say money doesn’t buy happiness, and I believe that to be true, but I like to say that it does buy freedom, in large part, from most of life’s worries.

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32 Ben June 6, 2018 at 11:03 am

I should probably add some sort of age requirement too (though that gets a little foggy) – if an 80 year old told me they were set for life I wouldn’t automatically consider them wealthy ^_^

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33 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Haha agreed… Exact same feeling when I hear people say they wish they were Warren Buffett :) Yes, it would be cool to be swimming in billions, but you only have so much time left to enjoy it! I’m sure he’d give away almost all of it to turn back the clock 60 years or so.

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34 Scott June 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Money definitely doesn’t buy happiness, but have “enough” money affords you the ability to pursue the things that really make you happy. For me, time is the biggest driver. I want to have more of my time available to do whatever I so desire which would definitely include more activities with the kids while they’re young and still think Dad is cool and fun to hang around. I also look forward to having more freedom to fail without the failure having a trickle down effect.

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35 J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:43 am

I dread the day my kids don’t want to hang out with dad!! We’ll have to read up on what’s hip and fashionable to see how long we can last ;)

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36 angie pannkuk June 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

True wealth is joy, peace, health, and fulfillment in every area of life.

True riches is having multiple streams of income and to be able to give away massive amounts. If you plan on being financially independent, but dont have a plan on giving some away, you have a poverty mindset.

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37 Lily | The Frugal Gene June 6, 2018 at 1:57 pm

This list lost me 2-3 ones in too. Where’s the retirement one? The legacy one? From there it becomes your typical “oh I wish I was rich to afford that Lexus!” Bleh. Where’s the infamy and legacy button? And the world’s largest off leash dog park for all good boys.

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38 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Legacy is a good one, you’re right :) Was just having an hour long conversation on it, and the meaning of life in general with a friend yesterday… Also how everyone we know will be dead in 100 years and the planet will be completely filled with an entirely new population! Haha… Def. helps you appreciate the time we have here more when you think of that stuff ;)

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39 Mr. Tako June 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

We must be reading the same stuff J$! I recently published a post where I questioned the classical definitions of “the good life”.

I feel like once you strip out all of the consumption there’s only a few things that truly matter — and they don’t cost money. But they do cost time.

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40 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life June 6, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Peace of mind and being able to throw money at our problems (and other people’s problems, so this includes charity) are my top two.

Wealth doesn’t contribute to loving relationships for me, I built those long before wealth or even financial security entered into the picture. The most honest loving relationships I cherish are the ones that exist in the absence of money. It lets you get into what truly matters rather than focusing on appearances and other superficial things. Of course, wealth makes it possible to travel to SEE those friends who have moved far away so I won’t discount it entirely on that front.

I’m on the fence with Good Health – it’s critical and nothing matters without it in the grand scheme of things. But as related to wealth? On the one hand, if you’re wealthy, you can buy the time and opportunity to be fit and treat any illnesses that come your way. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that even massive millions or billions of dollars still can’t buy me a cure, they can just help me feel less bad, so that helps me realize that good health can be SUCH a crapshoot!

As a homeowner, I can’t list “Owning a home” as a thing that enriches our lives because it feels a lot more like a thing that requires us to invest our time and energy rather than gives us time and energy! But I can see it being satisfying for people who LIKE doing home stuff! And I can’t discount how cozy having our very own little nest that mostly can’t be taken away under normal circumstances (taxes are paid, no riots or rebellions).

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41 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm

“Of course, wealth makes it possible to travel to SEE those friends who have moved far away so I won’t discount it entirely on that front. ” – Yup!!! It’s sad not being able to spend time with people you love because you can’t afford it :( The ability to visit anyone/anytime/anywhere you wish is huge! And totally agree on relationships before wealth too…

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42 PaulM June 6, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Peace of mind for sure but I can’t help but thinking that one black swan event can wipe out a lifetime of savings. What worries me most is cost of healthcare.

I have a couple of family members/friends who are dealing with elderly parents with long-term care issues. They fall in that wide gap of not being poor enough to be Medicaid eligible and not wealthy enough to pay out of discretionary savings. It’s totally scary to see savings being drained like sand through an hourglass through no fault of their own but just growing old.

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43 J. Money June 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Agreed :( And something many of us younger folks tend to ignore – myself included! – because it seems so far away from now… But it will be us too one day! No escaping old age/death!

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44 Debbie June 8, 2018 at 12:52 am

Americans are retiring to other countries in record numbers. Many just because of the expense of health care. America is the only country on Earth that will take your home from you to pay for medical expenses. Others have leans on their homes for medical cost they’ve incurred. It’s scary that health issues can literally bleed you dry of your entire life savings. Something is wrong with a system in which a pill costs $3 in another country but an American is charged $500 for the exact same pill, manufactured here in the USA with the exact same packaging. This is a run away train wreck if it’s not brought under control.

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45 Debbi June 8, 2018 at 1:19 am

oops….liens….long day! Time for bed!

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46 J. Money June 8, 2018 at 9:54 am

Very very sad indeed, I agree :(

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47 Paul June 7, 2018 at 8:51 am

Surprised Netflix is so close to food…. Damn it, I should have invested 15 years ago… Also, probably an unpopular opinion but 80% of Netflix original series are sub par. They do have some really good ones but most of them are average at best… Its kind of like, people think they are so good because other people think they are so good…

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48 J. Money June 7, 2018 at 11:31 am

Haha perhaps.. I’ve liked all the ones I’ve seen so far, but I’ve only watched maybe 3-4 and they’re always based on what the world is talking about so odds go higher they’re going to be good :) (But yes to investing years ago!! That would have been nice!)

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49 lisa June 7, 2018 at 10:32 pm

We’re rich in Spirit. Amen to that.

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50 Your Money Blueprint June 9, 2018 at 1:51 am

The things in my life that bring me the most happiness turn out to be free or low cost. Hanging out with friends, time with family, playing sport, exercise, reading and creating. These high net worth articles are the types of articles that scare people that don’t know any better not to even bother trying to save for retirement. In reality they may only need half what they think.

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51 J. Money June 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

Agreed :( But hopefully they find our blogs so we can get them back on track and pushing towards it!

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52 Ten Factorial Rocks June 10, 2018 at 2:12 am

J$, I hear you buddy. Though I qualify by the median survey definition of “wealthy”, I find this kind of obsession unhealthy. It’s never about absolute wealth, but the ratio of net worth to fully costed living expenses that matters. This ratio tells you if a millionaire is struggling or a guy with $300k has it made when it comes to ER. This perspective comes to you even stronger while living in a developing country as I do now.

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