Rich People in America: Must Have Assets of $2.2 Million
Are you wealthy? Here’s how much money Americans say they need to live comfortably

How much money Americans think they need to be considered wealthy?

Americans say they need an average net worth of $774,000 to be “financially comfortable,” and an average net worth of $2.2 million to be “wealthy,” or rich according to the Charles Schwab Modern Wealth Survey 2022.

The online survey, which was conducted in February and comprises answers from 1,000 Americans between the ages of 21 and 75, shows not only that people think they need more to be considered wealthy than they did in 2021 ($1.9 million), but that they need more to feel like they’re on solid financial footing, too.

The average net worth needed to be considered wealthy and to be financially comfortable both rose from last year's survey. In 2021, Americans said they needed $624,000 in net assets to live comfortably, while it would take $1.9 million to be rich. That said, the averages are still lower than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, likely because many people are focusing less on hitting a specific number and more on their overall goals, financial and otherwise, says Rob Williams, managing director of financial planning, retirement income, and wealth management at Charles Schwab.

The average net worth of U.S. households actually isn't so far off from Schwab's survey: It stood at $748,800 in 2019, according to the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve. But that's skewed by the richest households. The median net worth for U.S. households is $121,700, per the Fed. And as other reports have found, many U.S. households have very little or no savings at all.

The S&P 500, for example, despite its recent downturn, was up more than 50% between the end of May 2018 and the end of April 2022. Similarly, the median home price in the U.S. was $315,600 during the second quarter of 2018—that figure was $428,700 as of the first quarter of 2022, according to Federal Reserve data.

Even so, it’s worth noting that price increases over the past year have eroded purchasing power for some households in a big way. So, interestingly, as money’s value has declined, many Americans feel that they need less of it to be financially comfortable. Given that the survey was conducted in February, those numbers may differ now that we’ve seen several months of decades-high CPI numbers.

That $1.4 million Americans needed to feel stable in 2018 would be worth roughly $1.61 million today. But as interest rates rise and the stock market sputters, Collins says the current economic environment may serve as a wake-up call for households who have grown comfortable with having less.

With little saved for emergencies or retirement, a number like $2.2 million—or even $774,000—might seem like an impossible benchmark to reach. But Williams says this doesn't have to be the case. Ultimately, each household should calculate its own wealth target and make an individualized savings plan.
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