Financial Insights From Wealthy Families: Personal Capital Affluent Survey

Financial insights from wealthy families

Do the rich have it better than us? According to Personal Capital, the leading digital wealth management firm, the answer may be a resounding yes. Here are some financial insights from wealthy families.

The findings were taken from a survey of 1,001 parents in the U.S. with household investable assets of $500,000 or more and reveal how affluent parents across generations – Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer – have supported and expect to support their children financially.

In a previous survey by Personal Capital, we discovered one of the reasons why Millennials aren't as focused about building wealth is because the median inheritance expectation is over $1,000,000. In this survey, a whole new set of insightful data points are revealed.

Here are four financial insights from wealthy families from the survey.

Financial Insights From Wealthy Families

  • Millennial parents expect to do more financially for their children than prior generations of parents – and think their kids expect them to.
  • Nine in 10 Millennial parents say their child/children will expect them to pay for big-ticket items like college, a wedding and/or a home, compared to 69 percent of parents overall.
  • Seventy percent of Millennial parents (vs. 48 percent overall) say they would prioritize saving for their child's college education over their own retirement.
  • Fifty-six percent of Millennial parents expect to pay $100,000 or more for their child's college education, compared to 42 percent of Gen X and 23 percent of Baby Boomer parents.
  • Parents from the Northeast feel the most pressure in this regard, with 46 percent who have paid or expect to pay $100,000-plus for their child's undergraduate education, compared to just 31 percent of parents overall.
  • Millennial parents are three times more likely to cover the entire cost of their child's house, and twice as likely to contribute a full down payment, compared to parents overall.

Adult Children Of Wealthy Parents

  • Among affluent parents, nearly two in 10 (19 percent) plan to support their children into the child's 30s or beyond, with 12 percent of parents planning to continue supporting their children into the child's 40s and beyond.
  • More than half (54 percent; 68 percent for parents with $3 million or more in investable assets) of parents have helped or plan to help their child financially when their child buys a home.
  • Forty-five percent of parents have paid or expect to pay some or all of their child's rent, with 18 percent paying or expecting to pay for all of it. Wealthy families have just as much money worries as non-wealthy families.

Related: Your Chances Of Becoming A Millionaire By Race, Age, Education

Mothers Are Most Generous Than Fathers

Across almost every age and income demographic, female parents are more generous when it comes to financially supporting their kids.

72 percent of women vs. 66 percent of men say their children expected or will expect them to pay for big ticket purchases, from college to a house.

College: 64 percent (female) vs. 55 percent (male)
Wedding: 46 percent (female) vs. 42 percent (male)
House: 29 percent (female) vs. 26 percent (male)

Mothers are more likely to give children extra money than fathers (38 percent vs. 31 percent).

Related: Net Worth Composition By Levels Of Wealth

More Open About Finances With Children

Ninety-seven percent of affluent parents plan to leave an inheritance to their children, with 91 percent planning to leave their children $100,000 or more.

Twenty-two percent never plan to tell their children their net worth. Of those planning to leave an inheritance, six in 10 think their children will be very responsible with the money.

Half of affluent parents say their children know their salary, and just under half (47 percent) say their children know their net worth.

“Affluent parents, across generations, are feeling increasing pressure from their children to provide longer term support, yet they are still uncomfortable talking about their finances,” said Personal Capital CEO Jay Shah. “The first step is for families to start conversations about family finances and legacy planning.”

Personal Capital is the best free wealth management tool today.

Wealthy Families Love Real Estate

Wealthy families heavily invest in real estate because it is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. In an inflationary environment, like the one we are having post-pandemic, investing in real estate is a good idea. Inflation acts as a tailwind for real estate and whittles down the cost of debt.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up. Further, the pandemic has made working from home more common.

Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms. They are free to sign up and explore.

Fundrise: A way for accredited and non-accredited investors to diversify into real estate through private eFunds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has consistently generated steady returns, no matter what the stock market is doing. For most people, investing in a diversified eREIT is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations, higher rental yields, and potentially higher growth due to job growth and demographic trends. If you have a lot more capital, you can build you own diversified real estate portfolio. 

Methodology Of The Wealthy Families Survey

Personal Capital's Affluent Family Financial Support Survey presents the findings of an online study, conducted by ORC International, among a sample of 1,001 respondents ages 18 or older who are parents, and have total household investable assets of $500,000 or more. The sample for the study came from an online panel. Invitations to participate in the study were sent beginning on September 7, 2017 and data collection continued through September 13, 2017.

Related: The Biggest Worry Of Affluent Investors (Over 100,000 Personal Capital users surveyed)

Recommendation To Build Wealth

The best way to grow your wealth is to track your wealth. Sign up for Personal Capital's free online software to make sure you're on top of your finances. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 35 different accounts to track my finances. Now I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing. I can also track how my net worth is progressing.

Their 401K Fee Analyzer tool is saving me over $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying. They’ve also got an amazing Retirement Planning Calculator. It uses real data and Monte Carlo simulations to produce realistic retirement results. It’s the best planner out there.

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About the Author: 

Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing. He spent the next 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments. They now generate roughly $200,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom. was started in 2009. It is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1.5 million organic pageviews a month. Financial Samurai has been featured in top publications all over.