your money

Our Money, Our Wealth

Frank Trotter | June 1, 2017 2 MIN READ

Most of us do not think of ourselves as being wealthy, and rightly so. That is reserved for the titans of industry, entertainment and sports stars, successful speculators, and the somewhat longer list of those who have inherited substantial sums of money. But the concept of “wealth” applies to all of us, no matter how princely or meager. What we hold that is valuable, minus what we owe is our net financial worth.

Wealth is a complicated topic loaded with political and personal subjectivity. Politicians of all stripes call for taxes on the wealthy and benefits for those less fortunate, and closing or widening income gaps. We all maintain a mental map of those around us even if we resist it – based on observations like house, clothing, choice in entertainment seating and so on. Marketers suggest that by driving their car or buying their watch people will gain status.

Defining Wealth

So how should wealth be defined? By annual income only? Net worth? More humanistic values? I’m a banker so I’ll stick to the numbers for now – you can fill in the other terms you regard as important.

I define being wealthy in America as “the sustainable ability to reasonably buy what you want without regard to budget – whether retired or not.” But this ability varies widely by a range of factors. For example, geography plays a large role. We all know, or at least feel this difference when considering housing costs and median income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau stats: in Fillmore County, MN, the median home price and income are $140K and $51K, respectively, while in San Mateo County, CA, the figures are $776K and $94K.

The following from the U.S. Census Bureau brings this into sharp focus.


So how wealthy are we?

Let’s take a peek at what Americans hold overall to get a feel for wealth in America.1

U.S. population About 326M
U.S. households About 126M
Total household assets $108T
Total household liabilities $15T
Household net worth $93T
Average household net worth $738K
Estimated median net worth $6K
Billionaires 1,826
Households with over $25 million 142,000
Households with over $5 million 1,200,000
Households with over $1 million 10,100,000

No matter where you stack up it’s good to know the facts. And if you’re interested in finding out more, the Census Bureau has many more tables and charts than you’ll probably have time to consider.

Frank Trotter
Frank Trotter
Executive Vice President, Chairman Global Markets
Frank Trotter
Frank Trotter
Executive Vice President, Chairman Global Markets
Frank has over 35 years of experience in banking and global markets. When not in the office, you might find him speaking on the financial conference circuit, giving an interview on the latest world economic news, or at the nearest ice rink playing pick-up hockey.

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