It takes $2.6 million to be “wealthy” in Southern California.
Or so says a recent poll of local residents.
When the Charles Schwab brokerage asked 500 adults in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties how much a person needed to own to be considered “wealthy,” that lofty net worth was the average local response. Compare that nest egg to a $2.4 million target for being wealthy found in the same poll of adults conducted nationwide.
It is not a total surprise in a high-cost region like Southern California that the phrase “wealthy” has an inflated value. For example, two similar regional surveys released by Schwab — for Philadelphia and Houston, metro areas with lower costs of living — had locals in both towns defining wealth at $1.7 million and above.
And possibly because of the expensive nature of living in Southern California, the Schwab poll also suggests locals can be pretty astute when it comes to making long-term monetary strategies, but the region’s populace is relatively weak when it comes to managing a household budget.
Southern Californians scored better vs. the national norm on the brokerage’s “modern wealth index” — poll tabulations that weigh wealth-building skills.
The index showed Southern Californians scoring better at financial planning, financial confidence and staying on that plan while tying with the typical American’s ability for saving and investing.
On the other hand, the survey found Southern Californians like to spend zealously, too — a budget-busting habit that only adds the financial pressure of living in a high-cost region.
Locals told pollsters they are more likely to spend zestfully on taxi rides, entertainment, popular restaurants, $4 coffees and frivolous clothing purchases than their national counterparts. And Southern California’s millennials spend even more in these categories than the regional average.
“The cost of living here makes it even more crucial for people to stay focused on factors they can control, like their spending and savings habits, to help manage their wealth and stay on track toward their goals,” Casey Mervine, a financial consultant at the Charles Schwab branch in Torrance, said in the report.
One curious finding, a subtle but perhaps meaningful difference, was how Southern Californians defined wealth vs. the typical American.
The poll found the top Southern Californian definition of being wealthy was “being able to afford anything they want” compared to…