If you're like many Americans, the meaning of "wealth" goes far beyond having a lot of money. It's more about what money can do for you.
The Charles Schwab Corporation surveys 1,000 Americans every year on what it means to feel wealthy. In the 2023 edition of the survey, the findings confirm the view that feeling and being wealthy is about much more than a bank account balance. It's about choice, control, and clarity. And it’s about social life, family, career balance and flexibility, experiences, and good health.
What money can—and can't buy
When it comes to feeling wealthy, survey respondents increasingly say they place value and lean into things that money can't buy. For 62% of survey respondents, enjoying healthy relationships with their loved ones better describes wealth than having a lot of money.
Clearly, money helps. Otherwise, why would any of us work, save, and invest? But in the emotional yin and yang of finances and investing, it can be the freedom and ownership that money can "buy" that provides the choice and control many of us aim for. Saving and investing is the path to that freedom.
A higher percentage, 70%, agreed. They said that wealth is more about not having to stress over money than having more of it. Again, having more doesn't hurt. Having enough, though, and managing it to live well, retire, and achieve key financial needs can reduces stress, increases confidence, and provides more choice and control.
When asked to choose what statement best describes how Americans think about wealth, more American say wealth means:
According to the 2023 Schwab Modern Wealth Survey.
What's particularly interesting is that those surveyed mentioned well-being (40%) over money (32%) or assets (26%) when describing what it means to be wealthy. And they did this not by choosing their favorite answer to a multiple-choice question, but in their own words. Well-being was more important than anything else.
What's most important to you, in your financial life?
In my more than two decades of working as a financial planner, I’ve learned a couple of things. One is that we all have resources – financial, social, and human. A holistic fiduciary financial plan is about maximizing the effective use of the resources we have.
Financial planning is a process. Done well, it's a step-by-step commitment to identify clear priorities, then action steps, to manage our financial resources to create stability and flexibility so we can use money to achieve our goals. More money helps, certainly. But I have found that building wealth through investing takes commitment, discipline, and a plan you execute over time.
What does it mean to have a plan?
No surprise that in this year's survey, respondents said that social media, and friends, affect how they think about and then "plan" investments—and money overall. A third (33%) said they make financial decisions based on input from friends or "influencers." Yet, only 5% said that the financial advice they receive on social media is the advice they trust the most. This is an interesting contrast.
Today, people have more access to “information” than ever before. But often we fail to get much “advice.” The counsel of an experienced, well-trained fiduciary Certified Financial Planner professional has never been more helpful. Most families will benefit from straightforward educational tools, insights, and guidance to "put the pieces together" to create a holistic financial plan. This plan will keep you on track with your values, help you build assets, protect you from common hazards, and set you up for financial freedom.
A Plan is More than a Binder
Among survey respondents who have a documented financial plan, 70% said they feel more in control of their finances, 90% said they feel confident that they will reach their financial goals, and 65% said they feel "wealthy." And feeling "wealthy" is much more than a dollar amount, as we've learned.
The most impactful planning, research(1) tells us, occurs when you tap knowledgeable experts for their insight, but also for their coaching and support when you need it. A documented, structured financial plan is more impactful than a less formal plan. A plan that includes an ongoing relationship with a qualified professional – with guardrails, check-ins, action steps, and triggers for when, and when not to, make adjustments – is more likely to deliver successful outcomes than a one-time event-based plan.
"Wealth is good," someone famously said. But wealth is more than dollars. The 2023 Modern Wealth Survey shows that "wealth" is more about what dollars do for us and how we use them to achieve our financial and life goals. Planning is a process—and a path—not just to personalize your goals, but to tie into the values behind why you save and invest. A documented living plan coupled with a relationship with a highly-trained experienced professional you trust can make all the difference.
If all this has you thinking about your unique situation, maybe you would like to visit with and experienced, well-trained fiduciary financial planner. I’m always an advocate for my clients – a fiduciary planner. I love talking with new people. Reach out and we can have a get-acquainted visit. Just follow this LINK to find a time that works for you.
Yes, I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. I’m always a fiduciary and I work on a fee basis. And yes, I’m still taking on a few great families to be part of my financial planning practice.
If this article has you thinking about your own circumstances, contact my office at email@example.com. I am always happy to meet with people who are working on their retirement plans. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.