Being a millionaire ain't what it used to be. Nearly 800 wealthy individuals worldwide surveyed by Barclays Wealth say it takes a minimum of $10 million in liquid assets to define a person as wealthy. The fact that the definition specifies liquid wealth is important. As many of the superwealthy discovered during the recession, wealth built on real estate and other illiquid assets can become a house of cards that leads to bankruptcy when spending equals or surpasses the wealth on paper.
Many of the wealth experts agree with the new $10 million threshold, including Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, who notes this in the study: "This is a level of wealth where people feel protected from the hazards of the world."
Indeed, the study identifies time as the ultimate luxury with 62 percent of respondents saying their wealth has bought them both leisure and time with family.
Besides family, two other beneficiaries of the world's wealth are luxury-goods makers and charities. Only 31 percent of respondents agreed that luxury goods were a waste of money. When it comes to charity, the answers are skewed toward the level of wealth of the respondents. About a quarter of the respondents with less than $1 million say they plan to leave more than 10 percent of their estate to charity. But among those with assets of more than $3 million, that number rises to 37 percent.
Although wealth among individuals has increased overall, the cost of living has also risen higher for the wealthy than for the rest of the population. The Forbes Price of Living Well Index, a basket of luxury stocks, rose 6 percent, more than double the rate of inflation in the U.S.
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