Of Americans who don’t currently consider themselves to have a “high” net worth, only 23% think they are likely to achieve this status, according to a new survey* of 2,209 U.S. adults commissioned by digital wealth manager Personal Capital, an Empower Company.
The survey, fielded by Morning Consult, reveals perceptions around net worth in honor of National Financial Literacy Month, celebrated throughout April.
“Your net worth is a powerful financial metric because it gives you a bird’s eye view of your complete financial situation,” says Michelle Brownstein, a certified financial planner and vice president of Personal Capital Private Client Group. “This month is a great occasion to set goals around growing your net worth.”
Americans say the top factors in achieving a “high” net worth are frequently tracking your finances (65%), having a high salary (64%), and earning from multiple sources (63%).
But Brownstein advises looking beyond hustle culture to grow your net worth.
“Making money is only part of how a person builds wealth,” says Brownstein, who works with high-net-worth clients with at least $1 million in their portfolios. “It’s also important to make sure your money is working as hard for you as you work to earn it.”
Although most survey respondents (59%) agree that it’s important to maintain a diversified investment portfolio, fewer (46%) prioritize maxing out retirement accounts.
This could be to their detriment. Retirement accounts – like 401k plans and IRAs – contribute 55% of the wealth of high-net-worth individuals, according to anonymized Personal Capital Dashboard data**.
“Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are powerful investing tools,” Brownstein says. “As your income increases, be sure to increase contributions to your retirement accounts – don’t let that incoming cash sit idle.”
She also suggests getting clear on what makes up your personal net worth; only 35% of Americans are confident they understand what “net worth” means, even though most (91%) have heard of it.
“In many cases, you don’t need to be a high-net-worth investor to achieve your goals and long-term retirement needs. The key is to make a plan and have a goal you’re working toward,” Brownstein says. “Most likely, this does entail setting a net worth goal that will allow you to sustain your lifestyle when you retire.”
Brownstein recommends Personal Capital’s free net worth calculator, which aggregates a person’s financial accounts for real-time net worth tracking. Personal Capital’s free tools enable 3.3 million U.S. households to plan for long-term goals like retirement.
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