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What Does It Take to Feel Wealthy?


Yuri Kuzmin | iStock Vectors | Getty Images

What would you need to feel wealthy?

The question of how much people need to feel rich has been studied for ages, and just about every study comes to a similar conclusion: people need twice their current net worth or income to feel wealth.

The findings are remarkably consistent, no matter the wealth or income level. People worth $10 million say they would require at least $20 million to feel wealthy, while those with an income of $40,000 a year inevitably say they would feel wealthy with $80,000.

A new study from Fidelity is largely consistent with this Doubling Up Wealth theory. Fidelity asked more than 1,000 millionaires how much they would need to feel wealthy.

While most of the millionaires felt wealthy (probably the wealthier ones), the ones who didn’t said they would need $5 million in investible assets. The average wealth of the group was $3 million.

An earlier study from Fidelity found that millionaires needed $7.5 million to feel wealthy. So maybe millionaires are downsizing their expectations for being rich. What’s more, more millionaires this year felt they were wealthy, even though their average net worth is slightly lower.

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The study also gave us some broader details about today’s millionaires. It found that 86 percent are self-made, as opposed to inheriting their fortunes. (Though the term “self-made” has become controversial).

The average age of today’s millionaire is 61. So all those Silicon Valley whiz kids, celebrities and athletes are outliers. The real rich are old.

The top sources of wealth for the self-made millionaires were investments and capital appreciation; compensation and employee stock options or profit sharing. Self-made millionaires feel just as secure as the inherited rich, although inheritors were more likely to use financial advisors.

How much do you need to feel wealthy?

-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter:
@robtfrank