Almost half of Atlanta residents feel wealthy. What does that mean?

FILE PHOTO: A diner in Denver who calls himself the "COVID Bandit" left a $6,800 tip for restaurant workers.

ATLANTA — How do you define wealth?

Is it how much money you earn, how many bills you can pay, how much you own, or how many dollars you have left after you pay everything?

Is wealth a lifestyle, a status, or a circumstance? All of the above?

A recent survey on finances by Charles Schwab showed that almost half of Atlanta says they’re wealthy.

What does that mean?

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

According to the Charles Schwab Modern Wealth Survey for 2023, 43% of Atlantans feel wealthy and optimistic about their finances.

On top of the 43% of Atlantans that reportedly feel wealthy, another 17% of the city feel they’re on track to be wealthy in their lifetime.

Overall, almost three-quarters of Atlanta is confident about reaching its financial goals.

Schwab released their survey results on the same day as the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out the newest inflation measure, the Consumer Price Index for May.

While the BLS report showed the new CPI had gone down slightly, hitting 4%, Schwab’s report said there was “a wealth paradox” in America.

The finance company said the paradox is caused by the differences in how people define wealth for themselves, versus how they define it for others.

Compared to the 43% of Atlantans who say they’re wealthy, 48% of all Americans do too. The average net worth of Americans is a reported $560,000, though Schwab’s survey found that “non-financial assets like health and family resonate far more when defining wealth than having large sums of money.”


In Atlanta, the residents surveyed said an average net worth of $2.3 million was considered wealthy, while an average net worth of $729,000 was simply comfortable.

Both numbers were lower than in the 2022 survey, according to Schwab’s report.

Diving back into the paradox, however, Schwab reported that the contrast of wealth for some versus how they view the wealth of others was split, with Atlantans who feel wealthy actually having a lower average net worth than the national set.

“The 43% of Atlantans who feel wealthy today have an average net worth of $463,000,” Schwab reported. The company survey said more residents believe wealth boils down to enjoying experiences and not stressing over money, while having a “healthy work-life balance.”

About 40% of Atlantans also think “having no debt” is the biggest sign of being wealthy, though it’s followed by affording a desired lifestyle and having a high income.

Atlantans may feel more financially secure, but it contrasts with how Americans overall feel about what they need to survive and get by.

A recent study by Gallup found that the amount Americans believe they need to earn has gone up significantly over the past decade.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

In 2013, Americans believed a $58,000 per year earning level was enough to get by. After ten years of fluctuation, inflation, and a pandemic, Americans now think that an average family of four should be earning $85,000 to make it instead.

That’s a 46.5% increase over 10 years.

Gallup also found that the number of Americans who think a family needs to earn $100,000 has tripled to almost a third of all Americans.

For the sake of perspective, the federal poverty line for a family of four is a $30,000 per year income.

Americans living below the poverty line are the ones who typically qualify for assistance programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

There were an estimated 10,608 TANF recipients in Georgia in 2022, according to the Congressional Research Service. The data does not break down into metropolitan areas, such as the Atlanta area.