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October 27, 2002

Once More, With Affluence (Part 2)

My article from October 17, 2002, focused on an story from the Fall 2002 issue of Money magazine in which the authors surveyed a group of 1,767 American families earning at least $75,000 per year.   It was a study, the authors said, of how "the affluent" in America (or at least the ones who read Money) viewed themselves and their financial positions.

Statistics gleaned from this survey were fairly interesting, so I wanted to relate some of them here.   First, though, some demographics:

Within the study, the majority of affluent decision-makers were between 35 and 54 years old and married, with children at home or in college.   Their average age was 47; their median household income was $120,000.   In 79% of the affluent households, the affluence was supported by dual incomes.   Of the respondents, 74% had a net worth of at least $250,000, and 25% of those had a net worth between $500,000 and $1 million.   About 19% were millionaires.   Where debt loads were concerned, counting their mortgages, the respondents carried a considerable debt load − 60% owed $100,000 or more.

With that said, here are the numbers:

Percent who say they are "satisfied" with their finances: 77%
Percent who say they are "very satisfied" with their financial situation: 75%
Say they have achieved at least half of their financial goals: 43%
Percent who wish for a bigger financial cushion: 85%

Percent who believe that real estate is the "best way to get rich" in America: 19%
Believe that having a professional degree is the "best way to get rich": 15%
Believe that inheriting money is the "best way to get rich": 14%
Believe that stocks/mutual funds are the "best way to get rich": 12%
Believe that starting a business is the "best way to get rich": 12%

Say retirement planning is their most pressing financial concern: 34%
Say wealth accumulation is their most pressing financial concern: 19%
Say supporting the family is their most pressing financial concern: 18%
Say saving for kid's education is their most pressing financial concern: 14%

Say they are successful because they are happy: 63%
Say they are happy because they are successful: 34%

Say the economic boom of the 90s encouraged avg. Americans to live beyond their means: 57%
Percent who pay at least one one financial pro for information or advice: 75%
Percent who are confident they will "live well" in retirement: 73%
Percent who say they think about money more than sex: 37%
Say they enjoy sex more than money: 42%

Maintain some accounts separately for each spouse: 44%
Maintain accounts their spouses do not know about: 9%

Percent who consider themselves knowledgeable about investing: 58%
Percent who rate themselves as excellent or good money managers: 65%
Percent who say they got out of the stock market in the last year: 3%
  Percent who feel they are NOT competent at...
...knowing when to buy or sell a stock or mutual fund: 71%
...investing in individual bonds: 71%
...evaluating a company's financial statements before buying the stock: 64%

What do respondents do on the internet?
Book airline tickets/hotel reservations: 84%
Financial planning: 39%
Pay bills: 36%
File income taxes: 29%
Buy/sell stocks/mutual funds: 25%
Apply for a loan: 12%

Michael | October 27, 2002

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