Business: By George
Last modified Tuesday, June 15, 2004 10:29 PM PDT
The person next to you may be a millionaire
By: GEORGE CHAMBERLIN - For the North County Times
Next time you are out and about, take a look at the people around you. Odds are a surprising number of them are millionaires.
According to a new report from Merrill Lynch, there are 2,270,000 high net-worth individuals in the United States, up 14 percent from a year ago. That means that one out of every 130 people qualifies as a millionaire.
What's interesting about this survey is wealth is measured in stocks, bonds, mutual fund, bank accounts and other liquid assets. It does not include home real estate values. Factor in home equity and the number of big buck folks goes up significantly.
The Merrill Lynch report follows on the heels of other data from the Federal Reserve. It says that total household wealth ---- assets minus liabilities ---- rose in the first quarter of this year to a record $45.15 trillion.
All of this good news gets lost in the daily barrage of items that are interpreted to be less than optimistic. For instance, report after report talks about the nation's unemployment problems. Yet, more than 95 percent of the population that wants a job has one.
And, household wealth and the ranks of millionaires have not grown by accident. People have made a concerted effort to improve their financial condition. The National Association of Realtors home ownership is at an all-time high with 73 million families living in a home of their own.Ý
The Investment Company Institute says that 91 million individuals own mutual funds. And, more than half of all publicly traded stocks in the U.S. are in the hands of households rather than institutions. In most other countries around the world the rate of individual ownership is well below 20 percent.
Building wealth does not occur overnight. The famous book about the millionaire that lives next door says that most people who have amassed sizeable wealth do it through discipline, investing modest amounts on a regular basis. And, most wealthy people live frugal lives.
The boomer mantra of "He who dies with the most toys wins" no longer cuts it.
Today, the challenge is to build a nest egg that will allow you to live a long, comfortable life.
George Chamberlin is a regular contributor to the North County Times and also is a TV and radio commentator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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