Are You Richer Than You Realize? Majority Of Millionaires Think They're 'Middle Class'

According to a recent survey by Ameriprise Financial, most millionaires don’t consider themselves wealthy. The survey revealed that 60% of investors with $1 million or more in investable assets classify themselves as upper middle class, while 31% identify as middle class. Only 8% of these high-income individuals characterize themselves as wealthy.

Marcy Keckler, Senior Vice President of Financial Advice Strategy at Ameriprise, notes, "Many people feel squeezed between higher prices and lower asset prices." Persistent inflation and rising living costs have impacted Americans' financial security, making it harder for many to feel wealthy. 

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Understanding what it means to be middle-class today requires examining various factors beyond income alone. The Census Bureau's "Income in the United States: 2022" report provides a breakdown of household income levels:

  • Lower class: Less than or equal to $30,000
  • Lower-middle class: $30,001 — $58,020
  • Middle class: $58,021 — $94,000
  • Upper-middle class: $94,001 — $153,000
  • Upper class: Greater than $153,000

According to the Pew Research Center, the share of American adults in each income tier varies significantly, with geographic location crucial in determining economic status. For instance, living in high-cost areas like San Francisco can make substantial incomes feel insufficient.

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A new poll from The Washington Post and an analysis of Federal Reserve data found that nearly 90% of people agree that being middle class involves more than income or assets. The survey identified six key factors: a secure job, the ability to save for the future, affording a $1,000 emergency without debt, paying all bills on time, having health insurance, and the ability to retire comfortably. According to the Post's analysis, just over a third of American adults meet all six criteria. Those who do tend to be older, have higher incomes, are more likely to be college-educated and own a home. 

The financial realities many face, including those with significant assets, highlight the importance of strategic financial planning. Rising costs, from child care to groceries, have prompted higher-income individuals to feel financially strained, leading to reduced savings and increased credit card debt. According to recent Federal Reserve data, household credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion, and the national savings rate has dropped.

It's natural to feel like you're not doing as well as you are. If you think this way, it's essential to evaluate your financial standing and plan accordingly. 

Consulting with a financial advisor can be invaluable, providing personalized strategies tailored to your unique situation and goals. Understanding where you rank by income and taking proactive steps to manage your finances, you can achieve your financial goals and ensure a more secure future.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications including Zacks, The Nest, and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty, or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information

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