How Americans Define Wealth in 2023

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Man on a yacht
Ground Picture /

Traditionally, “wealth” has been defined as a simple tally of dollars and cents. But that seems to be changing, according to Charles Schwab’s 2023 Modern Wealth Survey.

In the past, someone who had a dime was considered wealthier than someone else who only had a nickel. But the Schwab survey of 1,000 Americans found that today’s adults have a more expansive definition of wealth.

Time after time, survey respondents said nonmonetary factors play a bigger role in whether they feel wealthy than dollars-and-cents measures.

The following examples show how the way America defines wealth is changing in 2023.

Having a fulfilling personal life

Happy retirees walking outdoors
Monkey Business Images /

Survey respondents who defined wealth this way instead of “working on my career”: 72%

A happy personal life is priceless. Survey respondents clearly understand that, with the vast majority saying they prioritize their personal life over building a successful career.

Not having to stress over money

Relaxed woman
Stokkete /

Survey respondents who defined wealth this way instead of “having more money than most people I know”: 70%

Here’s a reality check for almost everyone — unless you are Elon Musk, there is somebody in this world who is richer than you.

So, it is entirely sensible to simply be grateful that you don’t have to worry about money as opposed to wanting to be richer than all of your peers.

Enjoying experiences

Excited woman ready to travel
Prostock-studio /

Survey respondents who defined wealth this way instead of “owning many nice things”: 70%

From fancy homes to snazzy sports cars, nothing in this world is destined to last. And before it falls apart completely, it is likely to cause you many expensive headaches.

On the other hand, experiences can live on in your heart and mind for as long as you remain a resident of this planet.

Other nonmonetary ways Americans define wealth

girls holding balloons in field
Iam_Anuphone /

Here are some additional things that survey respondents said made them feel wealthy.

  • Having a healthy work-life balance: 69% chose this over “maximizing my earnings even if it impacts my work-life balance.”
  • Being generous with loved ones now: 67% chose this over “leaving an inheritance.”
  • Paying for experiences to spend time with my family now: 64% chose this over “leaving an inheritance for my family.”
  • Being in good health: 63% chose this over “being successful.”
  • Enjoying healthy relationships with family and loved ones: 62% chose this over “having a lot of money.”
  • Having the flexibility of working where and how I want (in-person, hybrid, remote): 60% chose this over “having a higher salary.”
  • Spending money now to have more experiences: 55% chose this over “sacrifice experiences now in order to save money for later.”

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.