• Discounts and special offers
  • Subscriber-only articles and interviews
  • Breaking news and trending topics

Already a subscriber?

By signing up, you accept Moneywise's Terms of Use, Subscription Agreement, and Privacy Policy.

Not interested ?

What it takes to feel rich in America

While millionaires describing themselves as middle class may seem odd, the reality is that the general consensus in America is that $1 million isn't what it used to be — and it's no longer enough to be "rich."

Recent analysis of what it means to be “super wealthy” nearing retirement (when ideally you’ll have accumulated most of your net worth) and you’d need to nearly double that $1 million to land in the “well-off” category.

To fall in the top 1%, you’d need a net worth of $16.7 million. Just interested in being considered wealthy? Well, you’ll need at least $3.2 million to qualify.

Of course that $3.2 million to your name might not feel so hefty in certain areas of the country, like New York, where 1 in 24 residents are millionaires or California, which is not only one of the most expensive states to live, it also comes with high taxes.

This regional variation helps to explain why the numbers are so high in the first place. And a Bankrate study shows that the more you earn, the more you think it takes to be considered rich, which makes sense considering most individuals with money tend to be surrounded by others with more of it. This only ups the ante for the wealthy. After all, if you have one mansion, but your neighbor has two and a summer home in Europe, your own impressive home may begin to seem like nothing special.

Kiss Your Credit Card Debt Goodbye

Millions of Americans are struggling to crawl out of debt in the face of record-high interest rates. A personal loan offers lower interest rates and fixed payments, making it a smart choice to consolidate high-interest credit card debt. It helps save money, simplifies payments, and accelerates debt payoff. Credible is a free online service that shows you the best lending options to pay off your credit card debt fast — and save a ton in interest.

Explore better rates

What does it actually take to be rich in America?

We know what amount of money Americans think they need to be in the upper class, but how much do they actually require?

To determine that, it's helpful to look at the median value of household wealth by percentile. Here's that data from 2022 Census Bureau research:

  • 10th percentile: $0
  • 25th percentile: $16,560
  • 50th percentile: $166,900
  • 75th percentile: $604,900
  • 90th percentile: $1,623,000

This means that 1-in-10 households have $0 in wealth or less, while half of all households have a net worth of $166,900 or less. With that in mind, a net worth of $604,900 would put you in the upper 25% of American households and having $1 million or more should make you firmly a member of the upper class.

Of course, it's important to remember that net worth is calculated by adding up your assets and then subtracting your liabilities. If you have $1 million in a brokerage account but $2 million in debt without other valuable assets to show for it, then your net worth is actually in the negative.

This means you stand the best chance of being — and feeling — wealthy by investing in assets that go up in value, keeping your debt balance down, and surrounding yourself with smart spenders who know a lavish lifestyle isn't what's going to grow your net worth in the end.


This 2 Minute Move Could Knock $500/Year off Your Car Insurance in 2024

Saving money on car insurance with BestMoney is a simple way to reduce your expenses. You’ll often get the same, or even better, insurance for less than what you’re paying right now.

There’s no reason not to at least try this free service. Check out BestMoney today, and take a turn in the right direction.

Christy Bieber Freelance Writer

Christy Bieber a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has been writing professionally since 2008. She writes about everything related to money management and has been published by NY Post, Fox Business, USA Today, Forbes Advisor, Credible, Credit Karma, and more. She has a JD from UCLA School of Law and a BA in English Media and Communications from the University of Rochester.

Explore the latest articles

10 tactics to keep your summer vacation on budget

After years of pandemic disruptions and last year’s eruption of pent-up travel demand, the coast is looking relatively clear for summer 2023.

Moneywise Moneywise Editorial Team


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.