How do you define rich

I was recently having dinner with my nine-year-old son when, from out of nowhere, he asked, “Mom, is the President rich?” Before I answered, I had to stop and think about my definition of rich. I realized at that moment that I’ve never really tried to define it. According to most dictionaries, rich is defined as having abundant material possessions.

Of course this type of vague definition is useless to a nine-year-old, and in my case, useless to a woman of a certain age. :) The definition, however, clearly speaks to the ability to obtain tangible items – material possessions. So although you can be rich in spirit and be considered emotionally wealthy, the definition of “rich” is all about having lots of money.

So how much money is a lot?  There seems to be a lot of focus on becoming a "millionaire" (think Who Wants to be a Millionaire?). And, obviously, you’re not a millionaire until you have a net worth of $1 million.  Unfortunately, accumulating a net worth of $1 million is out of reach for many consumers. I guess that’s where the phrase – “there’s the rich, and then there’s everybody else” came from.

During my research, I stumbled across a new study commissioned by Bankrate.com that explores how people feel about their chances of one day becoming rich and how they define wealth. According to this study, only 17 percent of people define rich as having a net worth of $1 million. 

How would you define rich?

  • 33% Having just enough money not to worry
  • 26% Having enough money that you don't need to work
  • 17% A net worth of $1 million or more
  • 11% A six-figure annual income
  • 7% Possessions such as houses, cars, boats, etc.
  • 3% Other
  • 3% Don't know

I have to say that I am really pleased with the results of this study. In my opinion, the pressure of building and keeping a net worth of $1 million, is downright discouraging. When goals seem so far out of reach and unattainable, there is no motivation to go after them. My new definition of rich is having enough money to comfortably maintain while I reach the next level in my journey of building wealth. What’s your definition of rich?

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
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