In South Florida, $2.1 million no longer makes you ‘wealthy.’ Here’s the new benchmark

In South Florida, being a millionaire doesn’t mean what it used to.
In South Florida, being a millionaire doesn’t mean what it used to. Swire

Being a millionaire doesn’t mean what it used to — at least in South Florida.

In its latest Modern Wealth Index study, brokerage giant Charles Schwab found that area residents now say it takes $3.1 million to be considered “wealthy.” That’s up from South Florida’s 2017 benchmark, which was placed at $2.1 million. To be considered financially comfortable in 2018, South Florida respondents said, takes $1.5 million. (That question was not asked last year.)

Nationally, Schwab respondents said it takes $2.4 million to be considered wealthy, and $1.4 million to be considered financially comfortable.

The 2018 study, which surveyed approximately 500 South Florida residents in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro region, found that only 42 percent of respondents feel “financially stable.” Fifty-eight percent said they live paycheck-to-paycheck. Both are about even with Schwab’s national averages.

Only 25 percent of South Florida respondents said they had a written financial plan — with 46 percent saying that’s because they didn’t think they have enough money to merit a formal plan.

“The idea that financial planning and wealth management are just for millionaires is one of the biggest misconceptions among South Florida area residents, and Americans overall,” said David Rosenfeld, VP and branch manager at Charles Schwab in Boca Raton, via a statement. “Whether people think they don’t have enough money, believe it would be too expensive, or just find the whole concept too complicated, the longer they wait the harder it is to achieve long-term success.”

And yet, 54 percent of South Floridians believe they will “become wealthy” at some point in their lifetime — compared with just 46 percent nationally. Besides financial wealth, a third of South Florida respondents defined wealthy as meaning living stress-free or having peace of mind. Only 15 percent defined being wealthy as “being able to afford anything I want,” compared with 18 percent nationally.

Finally, when it comes to how South Floridians find ways to feel wealthy from day to day, 59 percent ranked spending time with family first, about even with the national average. But when it comes to driving in style, South Floridians finished ahead of the pack: 26 percent said “having a luxury car” made them feel wealthy in their daily lives, compared with just 21 percent nationally.