There are many ways to build lasting wealth. MONEY wants to hear how you're doing it.
The number of millionaires in America hit 9.6 million this year, a record high and yet another sign that the wealthy are recovering from the Great Recession, thanks in large part to stock market and real estate gains.
Are you on target to join their ranks? Are you taking steps—through your savings, your career decisions, your investments, or your rental properties—to make sure that by the time you retire your net worth will be in the seven figures? MONEY wants to hear your story.
There are many paths to that kind of wealth, and they don’t necessarily involve a sudden windfall, a big head start, or a six-figure salary. You can build up a million or more in assets through steady saving, a sensible approach to investing, modest real estate holdings, or a winning small business idea. Are you finding ways to boost your savings at certain point of your life, like when the kids are out of school or the mortgage is paid up? Are you planning to take more or fewer risks with your investments as you near retirement? And if you invest in real estate, do you find that owning even one or two rental properties is enough to achieve prosperity?
Got a story like this to share? Use the confidential form below to tell us a bit about what you’re doing right, plus let us know where you’re from, what you do for a living, and how old you are. We won’t use your story unless we speak with you first.
An analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan shows a drastic increase in wealth inequality since 2003.
A new study finds wealth inequality among U.S. households has nearly doubled over the past decade.
The analysis, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, shows households in the 95th percentile of net worth had 13 times the wealth of the median household in 2003. By 2013, this disparity had increased almost twofold, with the wealthiest 5% of Americans holding 24 times that of the median.
In dollars terms, the median wealth of a US household was $87,992 in 2003, and by 2013 had decreased 36% to $56,335. In contrast, the richest 10% actually saw their net worth increase from 2003 to 2013, with the highest gains going to the top 5%. The median wealth of the households in the top five percent grew over 12% during the same time period, from $1,192,639 to $1,364,834.
The study also shows similar wealth inequality growth between median and poor households. In 2013, the 50th percentile held 17.6 times the wealth of the least wealthy 25%—over twice the disparity found in 2003.
A principal reason for the rapid increase in wealth disparity over the last 10 years is the different ways various economic groups invest their money. According to the study’s lead author, Fabian T. Pfeffer, more than half of the median household’s wealth in 2007 was in home equity. By comparison, the median household in the richest 5th percentile held only 16% of their wealth in home equity, with the lion’s share being kept in real assets, including business assets (49%) and financial instruments like stocks and bonds (25%).
Pfeffer explains that because stocks have recovered more quickly than the real estate market—the S&P reached its pre-recession high in March of 2013, while home prices are still far from their 2006 peak—average households were hurt far more than richer Americans when the housing bubble popped. When home equity is excluded from household wealth, the impact of the housing crash on average Americans is especially clear. A median household’s total net worth declined by $42,000 between 2007 and 2013, but their wealth held in non-real estate assets declined by only $6,900. The Great Recession’s disproportionate impact on real estate allowed the richest households, who could afford to diversify their investments, to grow wealth even during a deflating housing market.
Another concern for middle class households is that many sold off investments during the recession in order meet expenses, and are now less able to enjoy the benefits of a recovering economy. “Part of the lack of recovery is that they [median American households] had to divest,” says Pfeffer. “The troubles will stay with them for the next couple of decades as they try to reclaim these assets.”
Will wealth inequality continue to increase at its current pace? Pfeffer believes it would take another deep recession for inequality to double again in the next 10 years, but says his research confirms what economists like best-selling author Thomas Piketty have been saying for years: that returns to capital have been increasing at a rapid pace over the last century, creating a persistently swelling gap between the wealth of the haves and the have-nots. “I don’t see many hopefully signs that we’re going to get back to where we were 10 years ago,” Pfeffer says.
Some have claimed inequality is less important as long as all Americans see wealth gains over time. The rich may get richer faster, but that might not matter if the poor and middle class are also seeing their wealth increase. Pfeffer disagrees. A rising tide may lift all boats, but the Michigan professor points out that wealth not only tends to determine political influence, but also that wealth inequality greatly affects the opportunities available to the children of the middle class, especially in terms of education. “The further families pull apart [in net worth], the more disparate the opportunities become for their offspring,” he says.
The former President said his wife is "not out of touch," after she came under fire for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews
Former President Bill Clinton defended his wife’s recent comments about their family’s wealth Tuesday in an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come under fire from Republicans and some Democrats for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews in promotion of her new book. Hillary Clinton said earlier this month she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001, and in an interview with the Guardian newspaper published last weekend, Clinton implied she was not among the “truly well-off,” despite more than $100 million that the former President has collected from speaking engagements alone.
The criticisms are undercutting Hillary Clinton’s efforts to highlight populist economic issues in preparation for a possible presidential campaign and lending to an image that she can’t relate to average Americans.
The former President told NBC News’ David Gregory he was not surprised the subject of their wealth came up, suggesting it was an effort by Republicans to “change the subject.”
“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Bill Clinton said in an interview airing this week on Meet the Press, in reference to the millions in legal fees they racked up in the White House. “Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I’m shocked that it’s happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks.”
With his wife and daughter looking on, Bill Clinton asserted that they do normal things in the tiny New York suburb of Chappaqua, the location of one of their two homes.
“The idea that now, after — I think I had the lowest net worth of any American President in the 20th century when I took office, but I still could have been tone-deaf,” said Clinton. “And, you know, now I don’t, and we’ve got a good life, and I’m grateful for it. But we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what’s going on. The real issue is if you’ve been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing? That’s the real issue.”
Asked whether he could see why the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s comments were drawing accusations that she was out of touch, Bill Clinton said he could, adding “but she’s not out of touch.”
“She advocated and worked as a Senator for things that were good for ordinary people,” he continued. “And before that, all her life. And the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.”
Hillary Clinton’s remarks on wealth have evoked comparisons to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. On Monday, potential 2016 rival Vice President Joe Biden highlighted his relatively meager finances at an event on working families, but called himself fortunate regardless.
Watch the video of the exchange below:
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Rapper-actor-producer Ice Cube, one of the stars of this weekend’s 22 Jump Street, has a new album in the works, Everthang’s Corrupt. When Cube visited Time for our 10 Questions page, we asked how the N.W.A. alum managed to rap about what it’s like to be poor when clearly he’s so successful.
While Cube, as he likes to be called, doesn’t give much money to political campaigns — “politicians not going to do more with my money than I can to help whatever cause or whatever situation I want to help”—he uses his music to do his own form of campaigning. He’s an Obama voter, too, and is happy with the President, despite the fact that Obama “reminds me of the black kid at a white school that don’t nobody want to play with. That’s fine—he goes in there and does his thing, does what he can.”
A longer version of the interview, in which Cube discusses some geometry and gives parenting tips, is below.
Your financial status affects your risk of the disease more than you might think.
A new study from Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, finds that cancer afflicts wealthy and poor areas at about the same rate. But the study also found that they suffer from different kinds of cancer—and the cancers that strike the poor are more often deadly.
The study looked at the incidence rates of 39 kinds of cancer in different census tracts. Researchers found that poorer areas have higher rates of lung, colorectal, cervical, oral and liver cancer, while wealthier areas have higher rates of breast, prostate, thyroid and skin cancer. The 14 cancers associated with poverty have a mortality rate of 107.7 per 100,000, while the 18 cancers associated with wealth have a mortality rate of 68.9.
“The cancers more associated with poverty have lower incidence and higher mortality, and those associated with wealth have higher incidence and lower mortality,” researcher Francis Boscoe said in a statement. “When it comes to cancer, the poor are more likely to die of the disease while the affluent are more likely to die with the disease.”
Why the difference? The researchers aren’t sure, but they did find that the kinds of cancers that are more prevalent in poorer communities are associated with “behavioral risk factors,” like smoking, drinking, drug use and poor diet. Furthermore, wealthier areas report higher rates of cancers with few symptoms, like skin, thyroid and prostate cancer. These cancers often require advanced medical technology to detect. Since wealthier areas offer better access to healthcare, the scientists suspect that those people are more likely to be diagnosed with earlier stage cancers, but they plan to do more research.
A new list shows the net worth of the world's richest actors — with nary a female performer in sight
It helps to be funny, or a dreamboat in your fifties, or really old. You can be an African American or a Bollywood star in India. The one disqualifying factor: being a woman.
Those are the lessons from a list of the 10 Richest Actors list, as calculated by the Singapore-based Wealth-X, which describes itself as “the world’s leading ultra high net worth (UHNW) intelligence and prospecting firm.” TV star-entrepreneurs abound from Jerry Seinfeld to Tyler Perry and Bill Cosby. In this exclusive club, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, stars since the ’60s, rub shoulders with ’80s icons Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp. Adam Sandler is the newest traditional movie star, beginning his career in the ’90s; and Tyler Perry is the most impressive, having amassed his billions in the past decade, mostly by wearing a dress and playing the sassy matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons.
The lone non-American is Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan, a 20-year star of such blockbusters as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kabhi Kuchi Kabhi Gham and Devdas. Known as SRK, or “King Khan,” he is also a TV host and owner of the cricket club the Kolkata Knight Riders.
(READ: Corliss on Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood films)
The top 10, with each man’s age and loot:
1. Jerry Seinfeld, 60, $820 million
2. Shah Rukh Khan, 48, $600 million
3. Tom Cruise, 51, $480 million
4. Johnny Depp, 50, $450 million
4. Tyler Perry, 44, $450 million
6. Jack Nicholson, 77, $400 million
7. Tom Hanks, 57, $390 million
8. Bill Cosby, 76, $380 million
9. Clint Eastwood, 83, $370 million
10. Adam Sandler, 47, $340 million
You see no Julia Roberts, no Meryl Streep. Though they have appeared in many popular films over the past decades, they don’t command the salaries and royalties of a Cruise or a Depp, in part because they are not worldwide marquee magnets in zillion-dollar action franchises. The lot of actress has diminished since Mary Pickford was the richest star in silent pictures, a century ago, and Barbara Stanwyck the highest-paid performer in ’40s movies. For a redress of the imbalance, we may have to hope that Jennifer Lawrence can parlay her Hunger Games appeal into a career that allows a woman to make the really big dough. At just 23, Lawrence has the best shot at money equality.
Another list of wealthy performers, compiled by the Celebrity Worth website, does a gender switch: women hold the top four spots. But each actress requires an asterisk. No. 1 is Dina Merrill, the Grace Kelly lookalike who played supporting roles in movies of the late ’50s (Desk Set, Operation Petticoat, The Sundowners) and enjoyed a long career in TV dramas. But her residuals didn’t create Merrill’s $5-billion net worth. That came from her father, investment banker E.F. Hutton, and quite a bit more from her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune. When you serve your kids Cocoa Pebbles — not the soundest nutritional idea — you’re contributing to Merrill’s swag.
Second on the Celebrity Worth site is Oprah Winfrey, who in her 28-year talk-show-host career has acted in exactly four films. Third is Jamie Gertz, who’s been in movies (Sixteen Candles, Twister) and a quarter-century of TV shows from Square Pegs to The Neighbors; her wealth comes from her husband Antony Ressler, cofounder of the Apollo and Ares global management firms. Fourth is Jacqueline Gold, the British businesswoman who succeeded her father as head of the lingerie and sex-toy company Ann Summers; Gold has appeared as herself in reality shows (Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway) and game shows (The Verdict). To rise to the top of this list, a woman needed to be born to wealth, marry into it or be Oprah.
The highest-ranking male on Celebrity Worth: Shah Rukh Khan, at No. 5. On either list, it pays to be “the Badshah of Bollywood.”
More than a few surprises on the list
See correction below.
Where do the richest Americans live? Short answer: the Northeast. Six out of 10 of the nation’s wealthiest zip codes come from Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey, while three more lie just to the south, in Virginia. Only one zip code west of the Mississippi—76092 in Southlake, Texas—cracks the top 10.
Using 5 year averages from the US Census Bureau, the data was compiled and visualized by FindTheBest, a research engine. (Note that this study was limited to zip codes with at least 10,000 residents.)
Here’s a heat map showing the nation’s richest zip codes, where darker is wealthier.
A few characteristics common to the top 10 (and most of the top 50):
Well-educated: about 80% of residents in the 10 wealthiest zip codes have at least a Bachelor’s degree, compared to only about 30% in the average American zip code.
Costly: at least 87% of residents in the 10 wealthiest zip codes pay more than $2,000 per month on their mortgage.
Married: approximately 70% of residents in each of the wealthiest zip codes are married, compared to only about 50% nationally.
Caucasian: the wealthiest zip codes in the nation are overwhelmingly white, with one exception (see below).
Employed: none of the top 10 wealthiest zip codes have unemployment rates above 6.5%, and most are well under 5%.
57.8% of households make more than $150k
McLean is the most expensive suburb in the Washington metro area, home to many government officials and wealthy politicians.
McLean’s 22101 zip code isn’t just wealthy: it’s smart. Students in 22101 boast the best overall performance on the SAT, ACT, and AP exam compared to every other zip code on this list.
58.7% of households make more than $150k
Southlake is a wealthy suburb near Dallas-Fort Worth, home to Sabre Holdings, an S&P 500 company that owns Travelocity.
Southlake’s 76092 zip code is distinctive for several reasons. Besides being the only top finisher out West, the zip code is tied for the most modern of the 10, with a median home construction year of 1995 (compare that to the national median, 1974). It’s also the least educated of the top 10, with just 23.8% of residents holding advanced degrees (though that’s still over twice the national percentage of 10.6%).
59.7% of households make more than $150k
Darien is a quiet town in southwest Connecticut made up of wealthy professionals, most of whom commute to Manhattan or other nearby cities.
Darien’s 06820 zip code is both very wealthy and very white. With 95% of residents identifying as caucasian, it’s the least diverse of the top 10.
62.2% of households make more than $150k
Clarksville is a wealthy community between Baltimore and Washington DC, home to some of the most expensive properties in the nation.
Clarksville’s 21029 zip code is the most diverse of the top 10, with a population 61% caucasian, 28% Asian and 7% African American. (The next most diverse—20854—is 74% caucasian, essentially the same as the nation as a whole.)
62.4% of households make more than $150k
Sitting on the east bank of the Potomac River, Potomac is home to wealthy DC professionals and several nationally-ranked schools.
With 17.3% residents over 65, the 20854 zip code has more retirees than any other top 10 finisher. It’s also the largest (nearly 50,000 residents) and the most female (51.7%).
Chappaqua, New York
63.7% of households make more than $150k
Once a modest farming town, Chappaqua is now a wealthy hamlet north of New York City containing wealthy professionals and Ivy League-bound students.
Chappaqua’s 10514 zip code, like much of New York, is less car-dependant than the rest of America. More than one in three 10514 residents take public transportation to work, the highest proportion of the wealthiest 10 zip codes.
Great Falls, Virginia
67% of households make more than $150k
While many Great Falls residents spend their days working in DC, their homes sit along the pricey desirable west bank of the Potomac River.
Among the top 10 wealthiest zip codes, Great Falls’ 22066 has the second highest percentage of homeowners (94.3% of residents own a house), as well as the second highest average number of cars (nearly 60% own at least three cars). Compare those figures to the national averages, where just 66% of Americans own a home and just 35% own three or more cars.
67.3% of households make more than $150k
Weston is one of several wealthy towns in southwestern Connecticut, each known for affluence, low crime, great schools, big properties, and lots of open space.
The smallest of the 10 wealthiest zip codes, 06883 is home to 10,203 residents, just large enough to earn a spot in this study.
- rent over $1,500
Fairfax Station, Virginia
67.8% of households make more than $150k
Fairfax Station lies just to the southwest of Washington DC, and like several of the other zip codes on this list, is home to many DC professionals.
22039 is rich, old, and traffic-clogged. The zip code houses more middle-aged and elderly combined than the other nine cities on this list, while its average commute time—38.9 minutes—is the worst of the group. Car ownership may have something to do with this: over 10% of 22039 residents have 5 or more cars, the highest percentage of the bunch.
Short Hills, New Jersey
69.4% of households make more than $150k
West of New York City, Short Hills is a quiet, affluent town, popular among wealthy NYC commuters.
A closer view of East Coast zip codes by household income:
Correction: The original version of this article contained inaccurate information about standardized test performance in the the 07078 zip code. Student test scores in and around the Shorts Hills area are in fact among the best in the nation, not below the national average. Upon further review, the low Public Schools Rating was a result of missing data from NJ’s Department of Education, not poor test performance. This portion of the article has been removed.
Because who cares about all the times you saved Gotham from villainous underlords?
There are many ways to measure a superhero’s worth. Numbers of babies saved is a pretty solid one. And then there’s the literal way of measuring a superhero’s net worth.
Buddy Loans created a chart that itemizes the wealthiest superheroes and villains. Because who cares about stopping that comet hurdling towards earth if your stock portfolio isn’t impressive?
courtesy of BuddyLoans.com
MORE: Understanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Pope Francis reaffirmed his plea on Friday for world leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor during an address before top U.N. officials and called for a global initiative to reduce the income gap
Pope Francis on Friday renewed his call on global leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.
Francis made his plea during an address to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other U.N. leaders gathered in Rome for an audience with the pope, CBS News reports.
Railing against an “economy of exclusion,” Francis called for a state-led global initiative to close the widening gap between rich and poor through redistribution.
“Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustices and resisting the economy of exclusion, the throwaway culture and the culture of death which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted,” Francis said.
The comments were in keeping with the Pope’s previous critiques of income inequality at the World Economic Forum in January and in a private March meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Pope and Ban skirted the issue of an ongoing U.N. investigation into the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse cases and briefly touched upon the Catholic church’s stances on birth control and abortion.