Take a stroll through areas such as University Park and Highland Park — named one of the richest communities in America — and one thing becomes clear: the Dallas area is home to vast wealth. But just what is required to be considered wealthy here? A new report reveals the exact figure Dallasites believe it takes to be rich or financially comfortable.
Dallas residents say it takes a net worth of $2.4 million to be considered wealthy and $1.3 million to feel financially comfortable, according to data released by Schwab’s Modern Wealth Index. Both numbers are almost the same as the respective national averages of $2.4 million and $1.4 million — and also just below the amounts that Houston residents reported: it takes $2.5 million to be wealthy in Houston and $1.5 million to feel financially comfortable.
About 750 Dallas-area residents participated in Schwab’s assessment, which scores participants on how well they manage their money and investments across four factors: goal setting and financial planning, saving and investing, staying on track, and confidence in reaching financial goals.
Valuations in the study include being able to pay bills on time and still save, have life insurance, feel financially stable, have an emergency fund, and living paycheck to paycheck.
Planning equals wealth
The stark reality is that nearly three in five Dallasites say they live paycheck to paycheck; only one in four have a written financial plan, according to data. The report notes a connection between planning and positive investing and saving behavior. The Schwab Index found that 76 percent of respondents who plan are able to pay their bills and save each month — compared to 35 percent of non-planners.
Planners are also more likely to stay engaged with their investments, be aware of the fees they are paying, and have confidence about reaching their goals.
“When we look at the top overall performers in our Modern Wealth Index, there’s a consistent theme that they’re planners,” Julie Lambert, branch manager at the Charles Schwab branch in Plano, says in a release about the report. “Planning is critical to achieving any goal. It’s like a roadmap — it forces you to develop a realistic and informed perspective on where you are, where you want to go, and how to make the best use of your resources to get there.”
Among those without a written plan, 45 percent say it’s because they don’t think they have enough money to merit a formal plan — the top roadblock according to Schwab’s study. Nearly a quarter say they wouldn’t know how to go about getting a plan and another 21 percent say getting a financial plan simply never occurred to them.
“The idea that financial planning and wealth management are just for millionaires is one of the biggest misconceptions among Dallas area residents, and Americans overall,” says Lambert. “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.”
(Not) all about the money
Dallasites aren’t exactly materialistic, the Schwab survey finds. Locals described being wealthy as living stress-free/having peace of mind, being able to afford anything they want, and having loving relationships with family and friends.
In ranking their top ways to feel wealthy in their day-to-day lives, Dallas residents most value spending time with family (62 percent of respondents), having time to themselves (53 percent), owning a home (51 percent), dining out/getting meals delivered (36 percent), and enjoying subscription services like cable TV and music streaming (25 percent).
Other things that make people feel wealthy in their daily lives include owning the latest tech gadgets (25 percent), grooming and pampering experiences like massages and manicures (24 percent), and driving a luxury car (20 percent).