When it comes to achieving financial peace of mind, you might not need to be a millionaire. In fact, Americans say you only need a net worth of $624,000 to be considered "financially comfortable."
That's down significantly from the $934,000 net worth that Americans cited as the minimum needed for financial comfort last year, according to Schwab's 2021 Modern Wealth Survey, an annual poll of 1,000 U.S. adults that focuses on how Americans think about saving, spending, investing and wealth.
The Covid-19 pandemic almost certainly played a role in lowering the bar when it comes to net worth, which is essentially a calculation of all of a person's assets — including cash in checking and savings accounts, financial investments and the value of any real estate or vehicles owned — minus all their debt, including credit card balances, student loans and mortgages.
The global health and economic crisis caused many Americans to reprioritize what's important, Schwab found. About 69% of survey respondents say mental health is more important to them now than it was before.
The definition of financial comfort also varies by age and gender. Men feel you need a net worth of $864,000 to be considered "financially comfortable," which is more than double the $325,000 net worth cited by women.
Here's the net worth each generation says you need to be considered financially comfortable in 2021:
- Millennials (ages 24 to 39): $618,000
- Gen X (ages 40 to 55): $717,000
- Baby boomers (ages 56 to 74): $609,000
U.S. households had an average net worth of $748,800 prior to the pandemic, according to The Federal Reserve's 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. However, the median, or midpoint, net worth of all families was much lower, just $121,700 in 2019.
Among the many lessons the pandemic has taught us, it's that being financially prepared and mindful of your financial health is important, says Rob Williams, vice president of financial planning at Charles Schwab.
With that in mind, it's likely worth taking the time to evaluate where you're at right now and make a written financial plan to ensure your finances are on track for the future. Perhaps by doing so, more Americans will accumulate enough money to hit the $1.9 million net worth that's considered "wealthy."