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The cost of living in Boston has skyrocketed in recent years — to no surprise of anyone who lives here, of course. But a new report sheds light on how many Bostonians are struggling to get by and how far away the dream of being wealthy in Boston may be.

More than half of Boston residents live paycheck to paycheck, according to a new report from investment company Charles Schwab, and that’s even with the median household income in the Boston area (which stretches to include parts of southern New Hampshire, per the Census) recently rising to $82,380.

So how much money do you need to be considered wealthy in Boston? Boston residents say it takes more than $2.5 million to be considered wealthy, according to the Charles Schwab report.

Charles Schwab this week released its 2018 Modern Wealth Index, which looks at how Americans across the country are managing their money and investing for the future.


Only one in five Bostonians have a written financial plan, per Charles Schwab. But a financial plan isn’t just for someone who is already comfortable with their finances or who has enough money in the bank.

“The idea that financial planning and wealth management are just for millionaires is one of the biggest misconceptions among Boston area residents, and Americans overall,” said Rich Rivera, branch manager at Charles Schwab in Boston, in a statement. “Whether people think they don’t have enough money, believe it would be too expensive, or just find the whole concept too complicated, the longer they wait the harder it is to achieve long-term success.”

How to work towards being wealthy in Boston

Having a written financial plan, according to Charles Schwab, can lead to better behaviors with your money. The Modern Wealth Index rated how well people in Boston manage their money on four factors: goal setting and financial planning, saving and investing, staying on track, and confidence in reaching financial goals.

Those in Boston who had a higher overall Modern Wealth Index score tended to save money, manage their debt and think about the future.

“When we look at the top overall performers in our Modern Wealth Index, there’s a consistent theme that they’re planners,” Rivera said.  “Planning is critical to achieving any goal. It’s like a roadmap — it forces you to develop a realistic and informed perspective on where you are, where you want to go, and how to make the best use of your resources to get there.”

financial plan | wealthy in boston | charles schwab

Planners tend to focus on a few things. They are aware of fees and investment costs, they regularly rebalance their portfolio and they feel confident about reaching their financial goals. A financial plan can include specific savings goals, having an investment portfolio and working with a financial advisor.

According to the Charles Schwab survey, nearly half of Bostonians believe saving and investing is the way to achieve wealth over time.

But being wealthy in Boston isn’t all about money to some people, Charles Schwab found. The company asked Boston residents to think about “personal definitions of wealth in their lives” and the top answers were living stress-free, having loving relationships with family and friends and being able to afford anything you want.

OK, so that last one has to do with money, and we know that personal relationships won’t pay your exorbitant Boston rent. You can take the Modern Wealth Index survey online at to get a look at your personal money managing skills. 

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