One of the most challenging questions for successful professionals to answer has to be “how much money is enough money?”
Everyone’s concept of wealth differs based on their personal backgrounds, the norms for their region and their career paths, and their spending habits. In 2017, a panel of wealth experts famously posited that $75,000/year represents the peak income for happiness. But if you were to ask actual “rich” people how much money they require for a satisfying life, do they respond with a higher number?
As it turns out: yes, absolutely.
Town & Country writer Norman Vanamee recently asked a group of multimillionaires to weigh in on a hypothetical situation: if you’re a wealthy 40-something couple living on Fifth Avenue in New York City with 2 teenage children who attend private school, how much money would you need to keep up a "wealthy lifestyle" (defined as providing your kids with their educations, hiring a household staff, maintaining vacation homes, and leaving your children with inheritances of $25 million each)? According to Vanamee’s findings, that number is a whopping $190 million.
Of course, this “happiness number” for wealthy individuals isn’t a universally-accepted standard.
New York Observer columnist Richard Kirshenbaum asked a group of billionaires to name the amount they’d need in their bank accounts to feel wealthy, and the average sum clocked in at $100 million.
Obviously, the wealth standards held by multimillionaires and billionaires have little bearing on the average American’s idea of what amount of money makes someone “rich." Also, a related New York Times article recently made the point that even the objectively wealthy feel anxiety over their assets; multimillionaire Thomas Gallagher told the Times that “emotionally, I don’t come from money; I got very lucky on Wall Street. I’ve been dealing with a myriad of psychological issues since I retired. I have more money than I had ever imagined, but I still worry — do I have enough, if I live longer than I thought?”
And yes, hearing comments like this makes the rest of us want to break out our tiniest violins — but the point remains valid. Everyone feels some level of concern about their personal net worth, even those in the top income bracket.