Can you be considered wealthy?

What sort of net worth does it take for an American to occupy the lofty status called “wealthy”

As you would anticipate, opinions vary all over the place, especially by age.

Here’s the net worth each generation says you need to be considered wealthy in 2021:

  • Millennials (ages 24 to 39): $1.4 million
  • Gen X (ages 44 to 55): $1.9 million
  • Baby boomers (ages 56 to 74): $2.5 million

As one older than the boomers I can tell you those views are all in error. You need at least five million today if you want to think of yourself as well-heeled. Moreover:

It’s also worth noting that to be considered part of the top 1%, households need a net worth of over $11 million.

Finally, it must be pointed out how few Americans come anywhere near to being truly wealthy. In fact:

Even before the pandemic affected employment, most Americans had nowhere near a net worth of $1.9 million. Prior to the pandemic, the average U.S. household had a net worth of $748,800, according to The Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.

CNBC has just done a writeup on all this. Here is your link:

Think you’re rich? Read this.

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Averages are misleading for these types of stats. From one of the links in the article


What was the median net worth?

In 2020, $121,411 was the median household net worth in the United States. This is up from $97,225.55 in 2017.

What was the average net worth?

The average household net worth in 2020 was $746,821 . It was $692,100 in 2017.

What is the top 1% household net worth?

To be top 1% in 2020, a household needed a net worth of $11,099,166 . $10,374,030 was the 1% threshold in 2017.


That sounds about right to me. Our net worth fits this - assuming we believe current market valuations - but I don’t feel anywhere near “wealthy”. I’m aware that we’re not struggling and probably FI but that doesn’t translate to wealthy for me. I’m still shopping at Aldi weekly, we don’t dine out, we buy cars cash and run them into the ground (or at least until an idiot totals them for us).

For me, wealthy is when I’ll buy stuff without checking how much it costs. Not sure if that’ll ever happen but $5M isn’t it IMO.


“Comfortable” is being able to live off what you have. That number is highly variable, but can be much lower than $5M.

When your kid’s school is raising money for a new playground, you buy a box of candy bars when you are comfortable. When you are “wealthy”, you donate the playground. Which is to say, what I consider wealthy requires adding an additional zero to the numbers mentioned.


The funny thing about the generational opinion is that it should be going in the opposite direction. The older you get, the LESS money you need because you have fewer years left to use it.

It’s all relative. Everyone on this board is wealthy compared to most people in the world.


I would say $5m would be pretty “well off”, but not wealthy. Many folks here fall into that category. We all work harder than the average. In our case we have more help now than in the past, because we have managed well & can relax a little more. I still look for bargains, shop at discount stores & like those cash payouts on my Citi double cash cc.

Life is a lot easier now. But many of us can look back at those hard times when we were literally counting those pennies. I still check those prices but buy now if item is desired.

So we’ve come a long way baby! Not wealthy but quite comfortable.

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Let’s take a practical definition: You are wealthy if Chase Private Banking will give you a dedicated banker.

Last I checked their cut off was 20 million, so that’s about twice the 1% cutoff.

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Is that individual or household?

I’m guessing all the 40-43 year olds were too busy to say what they think.


We are generationless. That kinda explains a lot, actually…


My kind of thinking! Just don’t always give up on the first total! :smile:

Still my way of thinking, and while our bank accounts look good, I still check prices and try to negotiate many.

“Feeling” wealthy and “being” wealthy are two different things.

Lots of old people don’t feel old. But they ain’t young.

Its always amazed me how we Americans are averse to claiming wealth. If you ask us it seems that 99% of Americans will swear up and down that they are ‘middle class’. Yet we as a nation spend way too much time working job and striving for wealth.

Also on this topic, I do kind of think that ‘wealth’ measures might work better if they exclcude some amount of home equity and retirement savings. Especially as you get older.
I mean a 63 year old with a paid off house and $750k in their retirement account is not really “rich” cause all that money is just to pay for their looming retirement.

The question wasn’t about how much is needed for each generation to retire today.

The increasing amounts coincide with reality bitchslapping you across your face. Kids think a million dollars is amazing. Then you grow up a little and realize a million dollars isn’t as magical as you thought. So it becomes $1.5 million, until you grow up a little more and find it still isn’t what you thought it’d be. So then it’s $2M, then $2.5M, etc.

The Boomers’ number is twice as much because they’ve been around the block a few times, and know a buck isn’t going to get you as far as younger you thought.


This is probably at least in part due to lifestyle creep. When you’re a kid you have no expenses or responsibilities, so a million bucks can go so far it may need some imagination. As we grow up, we saddle ourselves with expensive responsibilities (spouse, kids, home, cars), and our imagination becomes less … imaginative.


I agree live within your means and you’re “rich”. Celebs make millions and are poor… It’s how much you keep…


Such lifestyle creep may not necessarily by voluntary. Often you live on 500/month rent in college and then you get a job and move to the coast. Bam! 3 grand per month.

LOL, I thought you were talking about an unplanned pregnancy :slight_smile: . But rent increase sounds voluntary. I paid about $500/mo rent in college… and half of $1300/mo rent for a 2-br in LA after graduating. I had a roommate and we didn’t live in a mansion with a view. Maybe a high-rise in NY or SF would set you back $3K/mo. Around here you can rent a whole house a few miles from the beach for that much.

Thats also just the impact of inflation.

$1 million when I was a kid is now worth $3 million.
For a Boomer $1M in 1960 is now worth $9M

I mean anyone remember how they protrayed Thurston Howell III and he was just ‘a millionaire’.
Today millionaire often means ‘can afford a house’.


A good article on expectations, or how the winner of the rat race is still an overworked rat.