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The Wealthy Need $7.5 Million To Feel Wealthy

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“Happiness is making $1 more than your sister-in-law’s husband.”

I don’t know who said it but I consider it one of the most accurate quotes about our society’s relationship with money. A recent Fidelity Investments survey, discussed on the WSJ Wealth Report blog, found that of the 1,000 millionaires surveyed, 42% said they didn’t feel “wealthy.” The average net worth of the group was $3.5 million.

They don’t feel wealthy because wealth is relative. It would be the same as if you asked them whether they felt successful. If you earn $1,000,000 a year and everyone around you earned $50,000, you’d feel wealthy. If you got promoted while everyone else stayed the same, you’d feel successful. Our view of our own successes and wealth is based on our environment.

A 4% raise feels bad when people around you are getting 5%. It feels great if no one got raises or if there were layoffs.

This is why 42% of those millionaires didn’t feel wealthy, because the people around there were even wealthier. This Slate series by Timothy Noah on income inequality is fantastic and discusses a variety of subjects on the topic of income inequality.

Fortunately, the path to happiness isn’t paved with gold bars if you don’t want it to be. Just make a dollar more than your sister-in-law’s husband… and hope he doesn’t line his driveway with Au. :)

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15 Responses to “The Wealthy Need $7.5 Million To Feel Wealthy”

  1. billsnider says:

    I agree that it is somewhat relative. However, a million is not waht it use to be. Try living in NY City.

    Bill snider

  2. zapeta says:

    When I saw this headline the other day my jaw dropped! 7.5 million is very wealthy as far as I’m concerned but I guess if you’re surrounded by people with 100 million you’d feel pretty poor. I think you can feel pretty wealthy on a lot less if you’re not trying to keep up with everyone else.

  3. Bogey says:

    It’s funny, because every time there is a study like this done, the people being surveyed almost without fail say that they need a net worth that is about twice their current net worth to feel wealthy. Held true in this survey also.

    Once they get to $7.5 million, they could survey the very same people, and all of a sudden the number to feel wealthy would be right around $15 million.

  4. $3.5 million is a lot of money, and it’s too bad that those people did not feel wealthy. Perhaps they should go to a developing country and take the survey again. Many of us have far greater wealth than the average citizen of any other country.

  5. Strebkr says:

    7.5 million has to put you in the top 0.1% of the country and even the world. Thats crazy! I feel pretty comfortable and I am WELL shy of 7.5 million. Maybe one day…..

    • Jim says:

      I think it’s dangerous to tie your happiness to money. If you never get that much, you aren’t happy. If you do, you’ll find that you’re deficient in other areas. You rarely hear of happy endings to lottery winners. :)

      • mikestreb says:

        Pretty good show on TV about lottery winners (can’t think of the name now). It is AMAZING how lottery winners lose their money on stupid things! One guy comes to mind, put a few million into some amateur womens wrestling league in Florida that flopped.

  6. Shirley says:

    It takes a lot of years of experience and determination to quit comparing yourself or your financial wealth to that of those around you. Once that is accomplished, you may well find that you are much wealthier/happier than you thought you were.

    • John says:

      Amen to that. Life is not a race. Comparing yourself to others is unhealthy. I think if you focus on yourself and achieve your own goals then you can be happy no matter how much money you have in the bank. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but we know this is not always the truth.

  7. Jason L says:

    I don’t know how valid this is anymore, but I read a few years ago that people’s happiness increases as their yearly income goes from $0 to $40k. After $40k, happiness flatlines… so that someone making $40k is just as happy as someone who is making $100k (and more). I think there’s a lot of truth to it, but I would bump up the $40k to $60k :/

  8. mikestreb says:

    I would feel ‘rich’ with less than $1 million!!

  9. skylog says:

    i understand what you are saying, and i agree with the relative point, however, this is just hard for me to swallow.

    when you step back and realize that some crazy percentage of the world’s population would desire to be in that position, it just blows my mind. i understand that money should not truly be equated with happiness, but it does provide a freedom that can not be denied. even if that does mean once you have it you create other problems.

    it is easy for me to imagine how life would change if i had 7.5 million dollars tomorrow. i would think it would be that easy for someone to imagine going from 7.5 million to a lot,lot,lot less. i would think that would be enough for someone to “feel” wealthy.

  10. govenar says:

    When I think of “wealthy”, I think of never having to work again, living in a mansion, having someone drive me around in a limo, etc. $1 million is nowhere near enough for that. (According to wikipedia, the word “millionaire” was first used in 1719; back then $1 million meant a lot more than it means now.)

  11. Damon Day says:

    Yes, wealth is relative for sure and unfortunately for many, expenses always tend to rise with their income, so they never quite get to the point where they are comfortable and content. They have a constant need to push for a little more to meet their bills. That tends to happen at all income levels though.

  12. Strebkr says:

    More money more problems


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