Like many others whose net worth has risen in recent years to seven figures, Renee Weese has she’s become a millionaire reached an enviable goal, she doesn’t feel particularly wealthy. These days, a millionaire is more likely to be the guy or gal next door who saved carefully and perhaps benefited from the sharp run-up in housing prices but still worries about covering the exploding costs of children’s educations, caring for aging parents and funding their own retirements.
Not that long ago, the word millionaire conjured up visions of chauffeured limousine and extravagant shopping trips and elegant yachts, Weese, 51, of Atlanta, credits her good financial fortune to good-paying jobs and windfalls when her startup insurance company went public and, later, when it was taken over by a bigger insurer. Still, Weese worries about how far the money will go.
“I know I have more money than a lot of people do. But I don’t feel I can sit back on my heels. I have lots of years ahead of me, and elderly parents I help financially a bit, and kids and grandkids,” she said.
Some 2.9 million people in the United States and Canada have net worth’s of $1 million. The New York-based companies count all of an individual’s financial assets except a primary residence, according to research from Merrill Lynch & Co. and the consulting firm Capgemini. To people living paycheck to paycheck or who haven’t saved much — which is the bulk of the U.S. population $1 million seems very far out of reach. But a growing number of Americans are accumulating that amount and more.
About 70 percent of the wealthy clients his Minerva Planning Group sees have earned their money by building successful businesses or saving from their salaries, Atlanta financial adviser Micah Porter, who has worked with Weese, estimated. For one thing, it’s vulnerable to inflation someone who bought $1 million worth of goods in 1957 would need $7.3 million to buy the same goods today, according to Federal Reserve figures. And the fact is, $1 million doesn’t go as far these days as it used to.