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Schwab’s survey reveals Americans believe it takes an average $1.9 million in personal net worth to be considered “wealthy” in 2021

It looks like that was from a survey done by an outside firm, and not by Schwab. ("The online survey was conducted by Logica Research from February 1 to February 16, 2021, among a national sample of 1,000 Americans aged 21 to 75. Quotas were set to balance the national sample on key demographic variables.")

So, those are the opinions of a vast swath of people, many of whom are completely ignorant about investing and don't have a budget so they don't know how much it takes to sustain a lifestyle and what expenses continue into "not working for pay," and which go up or down. It also is across geographic locations. So, "barely can afford a house payment" in LA or San Fran might be "buys a new car every three years with cash" in rural Indiana.

I remember a FIRE discussion with someone in her 40s just discovering the possibility of not working for pay until old enough for social security. She figured you'd need over $250K or even $300K to be able to do so. With no pension for her or husband, it didn't seem realistic, so I told her how to estimate future SS benefits and just left it at that. I bring that up because if she or someone else with the same opinion was surveyed by Logica, their definition of wealthy would be in the survey results.

If someone were to ask me what amount of money connotes "wealthy" in the US, it'd be some number around 5 million (assuming no pension). If you're so wealthy you don't have to work for many many years, you won't have built up Social Security credits (140 quarters), so there isn't that to fall back on. In my own case, seeing my employer's method of dealing with economic hardship via massive layoffs, a million bucks would not be enough if you got separated at age, say, 58. Two million at that stage is "can probably make it," but not wealthy. Wealthy means that many decisions aren't based around price but your calendar and if it's worth the trade-off with something else, but not so much "how much is the price tag." Of course, you can be wealthy and not own a yacht, but by "many decisions" I mean things like, should we eat out and should we pay to have XYZ done on our house rather than doing the work ourselves?
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