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How Much Money Does It Take to Be Wealthy?

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What You Need to Know

  • Respondents to a Schwab survey said $2.2 million, up $300,000 from a year ago but below the $2.6 million cited in 2020.
  • When asked what money means to them, the respondents' top answer was freedom.
  • And 59% said they would accept a lower salary to work for a company that better represents their interests or values.

Charles Schwab recently asked Americans, as it does every year, at what level of personal net worth a person could be considered wealthy. 

Survey respondents said it would take an average of $2.2 million, up $300,000, or 15%, from a year ago, but still below the pre-pandemic response of $2.6 million.

Similarly, participants said it would take $774,000 to be considered financially comfortable today, more than they cited a year ago, but below the pre-pandemic average of $934,000.

In a related question, the survey asked respondents what money means to them. Forty-two percent said it means freedom, 23% said flexibility and 18% said opportunity.

Logica Research conducted the online study in February among a national sample of 1,000 Americans aged 21 to 75.

Personal Values Guide Life Choices, Finances

According to the survey, 73% of participants said their personal values guide how they make life decisions more today than they did two years ago. 

The chief motivators of their decision-making are putting others first, cited by 21% of respondents; being frugal/saving, 15%; focusing on self, 13%; having positive work qualities, 11%; and doing good and influencing my spending/investing, 9% each.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said their personal values significantly influence how they manage their finances, and 79% said they play a role in their purchases, with values of a product’s company being an important consideration.

Seven in 10 survey participants said that in the year ahead, they expect to make lifestyle changes in order to have a positive effect on the world, including by making purchases at a locally owned store or business, reusing bags to reduce plastic pollution and reselling or donating clothing.

Some three-quarters of respondents said their personal values also guide their investment choices; they prefer to invest in companies whose values align with their own.

In fact, a company’s or fund’s reputation and values rank nearly as high as more traditional factors, such as performance, stock price, dividends and how the stock fits into an overall portfolio.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they are interested in having a more personalized investment portfolio.

How Americans Think About Work

Survey respondents said they want to feel fulfilled by the work they do, and they want their colleagues and co-workers to respect their values.

Eighty-four percent reported that their values guide how they manage their career: 74% chose their career based on personal values and affinities, and 63% chose their employer on similar grounds.

Indeed, personal values are so important that 59% of participants said they would accept a lower salary to work for a company that better represents their personal interests or values.

And at this point in the U.S. labor market when employers are struggling to fill slots and hang on to employees, 43% of respondents said they are thinking about changing employers over the next 12 months. 

Sixty-five percent of Generation Z said they are interested in doing so, compared with 49% of millennials, 36% of Gen X and 26% of baby boomers.