Redefining Wealth | HowMoneyWorks
Back to Blog

Redefining Wealth

January 26, 2024
Personal Finance
Financial Literacy
It's Not Just About the Money

In an era characterized by financial aspirations, a new understanding of wealth emerges from America's heartland. Schwab’s seventh annual Modern Wealth Survey, which meticulously dissected the thoughts of Americans about money and affluence, showcased an intriguing twist to the common narrative of wealth.

While many might conjure images of sprawling mansions and hefty bank statements when thinking of affluence, a significant portion of Americans have a more profound, heartfelt interpretation. For them, the genuine essence of wealth isn't measured solely in dollars and cents.

Surveyed individuals were posed with the challenge of quantifying the monetary value equated with being "wealthy" in America. The collective consensus settled around an average of $2.2 million. Yet, a remarkable observation was that nearly half of the surveyed Americans, who self-proclaimed they felt wealthy, had an average net worth of $560,000. This is merely a fraction of the average amount. So, what gives?

Diving deeper, it becomes clear that for many, non-financial assets like health, family, and emotional well-being carry more weight in defining wealth than the zeros in one's bank account. Over 62% of respondents believe that nurturing healthy relationships defines wealth more accurately than amassing large sums of money. An even more heartwarming statistic reveals that seven in 10 Americans believe wealth is fundamentally about being free from financial stress rather than hoarding more money.

Expressing their sentiments about wealth, Americans, especially the older generation, prioritize well-being and experiences over monetary accumulation. For them, the richness of life isn't encapsulated by materialistic pursuits but rather by meaningful experiences, relationships, and peace of mind.

Yet, even in this redefined landscape of wealth, the survey found that planning for financial goals remains an afterthought for many. Only about one-third of Americans have actively charted their financial journey. The reasons range from perceived insufficiency of funds to complexity or sheer lack of time.

In this interconnected age, while strong familial ties are the cornerstone of perceived wealth, the world of social media offers a double-edged sword. It's a space where comparisons can easily sow seeds of doubt and insecurity, reshaping perceptions of personal wealth. The ability to live a life on par with peers is a significant determinant of feeling affluent for almost half the surveyed individuals. Social media amplifies this comparison, influencing lifestyle choices, financial decisions, and investment strategies, especially among younger Americans.

To navigate these complex feelings and decisions about wealth, a new wave of financial educators is rising to provide tools and content to address financial queries and empower individuals to make informed choices.

As America strides forward, the nation's heartbeat echoes a new mantra: Wealth isn't just about money; it's about life's riches that money can't buy. Whether it's the warmth of family gatherings, the joy of memorable experiences, or the peace of a stress-free life, the real treasures lie in the intangibles.

"Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

  • Epictetus

"True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind.”

  • Kevin Gates

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

  • Henry David Thoreau

"The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money.”

  • Anonymous

"Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it's about having a lot of options.”

  • Chris Rock