By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
When I was growing up, my father who had little material wealth used to call my brother, sister and I his $3 million. He also reminded us constantly that if we have good health, everything else will follow.
Yet in a recent Empathica Inc. consumer survey, participants revealed that no matter how much money people are paid, they won’t think they are wealthy until they earn a little bit more.
Almost half of survey participants with household income between $50,000 and $60,000 said that they would consider themselves wealthy if they earned $100,000 per year, while only 16 per cent of those actually making $100,000 per year said the same.
For those earning more than $100,000, perceptions of being wealthy stretched out even further. A third indicated that they would need household income in excess of $250,000 per year to feel like they are rich.
So how much do you have to earn to be in the top one per cent? It depends who you ask.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that the 246,000 tax filers who have made it into Canada’s richest one per cent club were paid a minimum annual income of $169,300 and an average of $494,500 (2007 data).
In the latest issue of Toronto Life story “Almost rich” author Dave Gillespie reports that the latest Statistics Canada threshold for the top one per cent is $196,000. However, he says this can seem positively middle class in an increasingly pricey city like Toronto. Five households from different neighbourhoods are profiled each with an income hovering around the low end of rich. They all say they are comfortable, but no one is living large.
Moneyville’s weekly Fame & Fortune series looks at the financial habits of well-known Canadians and every interview ends with the questions “Can money buy happiness” and “Are money and success the same thing?”
Many agree that money doesn’t hurt because it can mean not having to worry about paying the bills which for the vast majority of people is the number one cause of stress. But as Rick Mercer for one mentioned, it all comes back to living within our means.
When I think about the trajectory of our family income over 35 years of marriage, I won’t deny that being debt free, owning our own home, and having two self-sufficient children is way better than watching every penny when we had a big mortgage and small kids.
However, after struggling with a back condition that severely limited my mobility several years ago, I definitely agree with my Dad. Once the basics and then some are provided for, having a loving family plus good physical and mental health are what makes me truly wealthy.