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Am I Really Uncomfortably Poor?


On a recent trip to the library, I noticed a book called “How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets” by Felix Dennis and on a whim I decided to borrow it (in the true sense) from the library.

It’s an interesting book because the author isn’t writing the book to become rich by writing a book, so in my opinion that give him instant credibility.  The book has been a good read so far, but what really fascinated me and what I’m going to focus on was his table that reflect his interpretation of Net Worth Wealth Scale.

Wealth Scale (measured by Total Assets):

Millions of DollarsCategory
2 – 4 The comfortably poor
4 – 10 The comfortably off
10 – 30 The comfortably weathy
30 – 80 The lesser rich
80 – 150 The comfortably rich
150 – 200 The rich
200 – 400 The seriously rich
400 – 800 The truly rich
800 – 1,998 The filthy rich
Over 1,998 The super rich


So based on his wealth scale I’m not even at the level of “The Comfortably Poor“, so obviously if I’m not “Comfortably Poor“, then I must be “Uncomfortably Poor“.  Now granted Felix Dennis (the publisher of Maxim Magazine and other mags) is a billionaire, so in comparison to his level of wealth, I definitely could be considered “Uncomfortably Poor”…  Still this has me thinking about my current financial state and if I am truly “Uncomfortably Poor”.

Being Uncomfortably Poor!

If I were to lose my job right here and now, I would be uncomfortable, that’s a given… and here’s why.  I have a family of four to support, but without my current job, I really don’t make enough in dividends and side income to feed and cloth my family, let alone pay taxes.  This means that I would have to liquidate my investment assets and starting the downward spiral by decreasing the value of my net worth.  I would guess that after ten years of no salary, I would be penniless and extremely uncomfortable!

That said, I don’t think I would need a minimum of 2 million to be comfortably poor.  I think I could probably get by with 1.2 million, especially considering how frugal I would try to be.  Healthcare would be my main worry…

So while I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, I still have a large dependency on the paychecks provided by my employer.  Eventually I would be uncomfortable without the income stream provided by my place of employment, but not immediately…

So what do you think of the Wealth Scale provided by Felix Dennis?  Are you (like most of us) uncomfortably poor?




20 Responses to Am I Really Uncomfortably Poor?

  1. I think that scale would put way too many people in the uncomfortably poor level. And I think there are lots of key variables missing from it like location and number of people per household unless I missed that. It’s totally possible to be comfortable with 250k or even 100k in a major city if you’re single and in control of your finances. -Sydney

    • I agree, I just think it’s interesting that Felix considers anyone less than 2 million poor (actually from 2 to 4 million in net worth poor).

      I guess why you have the level of wealth that he has, 2 or 4 million would be chump change…

  2. Way too many people would not even get on the scale! If you are relying only on your net worth, you may need $2-4 million to afford health insurance and tolerate the volatility of the market. I wonder how much of the net worth is tied up in your home?

  3. My next milestone would be to able to pay my expenses with 1 minimum wage salary. Like it or not, those jobs still do exist and most areas still have openings. That would be my worst case scenario barring any health issues.

    I can definitely survive on less than $2MM in assets but my kids won’t be getting their education paid for.

    • That would be sweet! Unfortunately, we wouldn’t make it. That would only be around $15,000 per year (Federal minimum wage of 7.25 per hour). For a family of four, the poverty level is $22,350 so that is my goal. But I estimate that my family currently consumes about $40,000 a year. Although I may have to recheck that number, it might have been before we got rid of our debt…

  4. Yes, by your definition I am uncomfortably poor. I would be able to survive without any income but not for the rest of my life. I have plenty of mouths to feed. I think the scale is somewhat skewed, but to retire reasonably well off, the amount needed is getting closer and closer to the low end of the scale.

    • I had to take a double look when I first looked at the table. Plus, those numbers might be in English pounds! The conversion would make it 1.6% high then our USD currency.

      Definitely a rich person’s view…

  5. That scale seems to put the majority of people into the poor category. Seems a bit excessive to be called poor when your net worth is 4 million. But then again, what do I know? I’m uncomfortably poor!

    • Yeah, I’m sure less than 1% of the population has 4 million at their disposal… But wealth and being rich is a relative occurrence, so I’ll cut him some slack 🙂

  6. I think that’s a billionaire’s point of view, for sure 🙂

    I am also not even on his scale, but I feel rich so that counts for something!

    • While I don’t feel rich, I certainly don’t feel poor either. I’m not sure if I can even make it to his comfortable poor range…

      I might have a net worth of a million or so someday (with luck and hard work), but I doubt if I’ll make it to the “comfortably wealthy” (let alone the “Lesser Rich”) category…

      Interesting scale and proof that Rich is definitely a relative term. Good book so far though…

  7. I think those categorizations he has – and the thresholds – are bit harsh. That being said, I also suspect that most people don’t realize just how much they really need to live a comfortable old age. That includes many well meaning, well educated people.

    By the way, I too would fall into the “uncomfortably poor” category. Maybe even a “Very uncomfortably poor” category if we created that extra one too:)

    • I think his range is a bit harsh too, or at least very different from the range most people identify with.

      His definition of rich is much, much higher than mine, that’s for sure!

      When I read it in his book, my jaw dropped. I thought it made the point that rich is a relative term versus a simple to calculate range.

      I also though that it would be a good motivator for people, knowing what the rich think…

  8. I think that Obama should use that scale so that none of us have to pay taxes (except those above ‘uncomfortably poor’.

    All kidding aside, I know tons of retirees that would love to be uncomfortably poor financially. I think this fellow needs a reality check.

    • I think you are right! The author (who’s a billionaire) does need to remember his past and redo his scale…

      While I like and respect Obama, I don’t think he understand nor has enough experience in business to help the economy… I think I’ll change my vote to Mitt next time around (like my 1 small vote matters, and Mitt is a shoe-in)…

  9. It depends on the lifestyle. Comfortably poor for him means super rich to the starving people in Africa. I’m comfortably happy with my situation and I don’t need to compare myself to billionaires. 😉

    • I think what’s interesting is how relative at term the word “Rich” is. I’m sure that Felix feels very sure of his definitions and I’m also sure than someone with a total net worth of 5 million would feel fairly poor compared to Felix.

      Just interesting, and a fun thought 🙂

  10. I posted about something I came across which ran along similar lines:

    See link below

    I’ve always thought that if you don’t have to work, you’re rich. But clearly, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what it means to be rich.

    But hey, if enough people fall into the categories of “The Comfortably Off” and above, then maybe I can too.

  11. I’m uncomfortably poor, too. Must be nice to be a magazine mogul. Scary, but a very good reminder on how dependent we are on our paychecks. More reason to work on other streams of income!