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San Diegans define 'wealth' as money, experience, relationships in study

Posted at 9:23 AM, Aug 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-11 12:23:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — When it comes to being wealthy, it's defined as something different between many San Diegans.

Money, friendships, wellness. All of these play a factor in how our region defines "wealthy."

A new study by Charles Schwab surveyed 500 San Diegans to define wealth. While most defined it more tangibly as having more money, others broke it down by relationships with family and friends, and life experiences. 

Here's the immediate breakdown of the survey:

  • 30 percent: Having a lot of money.
  • 25 percent: Enjoying life's experiences.
  • 24 percent: Being able to afford anything they want.
  • 19 percent Living stress-free and having peace of mind.
  • 13 percent: Having loving relationships with family and friends.

Those numbers mimicked the same trend in the financial company's survey of 1,000 Americans around the country.

Though when asked to compare two trains of thought for wealth, San Diego took the less tangible path.

  • 74 percent believe wealth is about spending time with family now versus 26 percent saying it's leaving an inheritance for them.
  • 66 percent said wealth was having good health versus 34 percent saying it's having lots of money.
  • 57 percent sided with wealth being the act of having gratitude instead of having money, which 43 percent defined it as.


San Diegans were also asked how much is considered a wealthy amount in our county.

The price tag? About $2.7 million in order to be considered "wealthy" in San Diego, respondents said. That's about 30 times the national median net worth of households, according to Charles Schwab.

To be financially comfortable, San Diegans said making 

San Diegans also feel that is out of reach, though. While 36 percent considered themselves millionaires or believed they can reach that level, 64 percent said they don't have any hope of doing so.

In Los Angeles, respondents considered $2.6 million wealthy and further north in San Francisco, $4.2 million is considered a wealth net worth.

Before you pummel California, though, those numbers don't improve too much elsewhere. New York's "wealthy" amount sat at $3.2 million, Denver, Colo., was at $2 million, Dallas, Texas, at $2.1 million, and Charlotte, North Carolina, was at $1.8 million.


Charles Schwab did offer a bright spot for San Diego: Our economy.

About 84 percent of San Diegans thought their economy is in better shape than the U.S. economy. About 68 percent said they were pleased with their overall quality of life, even saying it's the best in the U.S.

About 69 percent added that San Diego sports one of the best food and dining scenes — which seems like a random question to ask, but could help support locals' argument for a healthy economy.

Though those feelings aren't without a storm cloud. About 65 percent of San Diegans said the cost of living here is among the worst in the U.S. and 58 percent said it hurts their ability to meet their financial goals.


Charles Schwab's study also looked into how millennials compared to other generations when it comes to managing their wealth. (Literal wealth, not relationships or experiences.)

Compared to Gen X and baby boomers, about 34 percent of millennials are more likely to have a written financial plan. Further, about 57 percent of millennials are more financially engaged than older generations.

However, millennials differ within their generation.

When millennials in their 20s are compared to those in their 30s, the 30 crowd is more likely to have a household budget and feel better about their finances over a 5-year span.

To read more about Charles Schwab's analysis, click here.