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Brief Published: 10 Aug 2017

How Americans Define Wealth

Some 58% of Americans agree that wealth is more about having gratitude than earning lots of money (42%)

Americans are split on their definitions of wealth, according to the June 2017 Modern Wealth Index from US organisations Koski Research and the Schwab Center for Financial Research. Highlights include:

  • Divided Definition: Twenty-seven per cent of Americans define wealth as having a lot of money, while 24% say it's enjoying life's experiences. In addition, 22% believe it's being able to afford anything they want, and 19% say it's living stress-free with peace of mind. "As Americans' definition of wealth evolves, the [finance] industry needs to modernise its approach to find new ways to deliver good value and a great experience to a broader population," said Terri Kallsen, head of Schwab Investor Services.
  • Wellbeing Trumps Money: Around two-thirds (65%) of Americans equate wealth with good physical health, rather than lots of money (35%). Some 58% agree that wealth is more about having gratitude than earning heaps of cash (42%), while 56% believe it's about building community, rather than working on one's career (44%).
  • Millennial Focus: Millennials (aged 23 to 36) display better financial habits than older generations. Some 34% have written a financial plan, compared to 21% of Gen X (aged 37 to 52) and 18% of boomers (aged 53 to 71). "Millennials will advance in their careers, start families and accumulate wealth – all factors that will lead to even more financial engagement," predicts Kallsen.

For more on shifting values and behaviours associated with wealth and luxury, see Basement Bourgeoisie.