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What It Takes To Be A Millionaire!

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From A Non-Millionaire’s Perspective!

There are over 1 million millionaires in Canada.  Cross the border to the South and that number skyrockets to around 16 million.  So in a sample of approximately 357 million people – almost 5% of us are millionaires.  I wrote a post not that long ago about how the value of a million dollars has shrunk considerably.  I still believe being a millionaire has a certain prestige to it even in today’s world economy.  So if your goal is to have the title of millionaire – what is that going to take?  I’m not talking about strategy – I’m talking about what you need to actually have to be a millionaire.

Net Worth vs Cash vs Assets

There are three benchmarks for the term millionaire.  Net worth, cash in the bank, total assets.  All of these things deal with your financial value in one way or another.  Using one over the other drastically changes when you become a millionaire.

Net Worth

The most accepted milestone is when your personal net worth exceeds a million dollars.  This makes perfect sense since net worth is a summary of your financial worth.  Understanding how to get there is simple.  Take your assets and deduct what you owe (debt/mortgage/etc) and you have your net worth.  If that number is equal to or exceeds $1,000,000 – you are a millionaire!  What you include in your list of assets is based somewhat on your opinion.  We talk about it a bit in episode 2 of our podcast so I’m not going to go too far into it however, the big variable is your house value, if you own one.  Some people insist on including the market value of their house as an asset.  Alternatively others feel it should be excluded.  We personally include what we think our house is worth (not what the over-inflated market indicates).


Another popular way of determining the millionaire status is when your cash (or liquid assets) reach a million dollars.  This would not only exclude any assets like your house, cars or valuables – it would also exclude any locked in investments.  Essentially – if something costs million bucks you could purchase it right away without using credit.  This would likely require more funds than using your net worth.  The vast majority of people would have any substantial sums of money in an investment portfolio.  For our fellow Canadians – I would say you could include your TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) as a liquid asset.  There aren’t that many hurdles to withdrawing that money.


Using your total assets as the marker of being a millionaire is by far the least utilized method of reaching that status.  This would include the value of your house without subtracting the amount of your mortgage.  While it is still a lot of value I don’t believe this is a realistic indicator of a millionaire.  For one, it would make almost every homeowner in  a number of major cities an automatic millionaire regardless of how much money they have.  You can actually have a negative net worth while having more than a million dollars’ worth of assets.

Currency Conversion

Another big factor in reaching that millionaire status is the country that you live in.  The term millionaire is technically based on your “home” currency – although globally the American dollar is typically used to measure statistics like Millionaires Per Capita.  This can make reaching that millionaire status either mundane or even more impressive depending on the value of your money on the world market.

Keeping things close to home, an American would only need around $740,000 to be considered a Canadian millionaire.  Alternatively a Canadian would only need around $12,000 to rank as a millionaire in Japan.  This is based on current (2017) information so of course those numbers can change quite drastically.

If you are interested – the fastest way to become a millionaire would be to move to Iran.  Currently the Iranian Rial is the lowest valued currency in the world so it would only take less than $42 Canadian ($31 USD) to become an Iranian millionaire.  Of course that would take some of the prestige out of the title – since a million Rials will only buy you a half way decent bottle of wine or one month membership at a local gym.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Regardless of if you choose to use your net worth or you liquid cash – reaching the status of a millionaire is cause for celebration.  I’m sure there are few of our readers who are already there, and I’m sure Sarah and I will get there some time, we hope.  We would consider ourselves millionaires when our net worth (including the realistic value of our house) exceeds $2,000,000.  While we have our own investment accounts, everything we have is split evenly so we can only account 50% of our combined net worth as our personal number.  If we are able to hit that number – we’ll certainly celebrate but we are more focused on paying off our mortgage.  We’ll have to see which happens first because both events would call for a bit of a party at the Couple of Sense household!

At what point would you consider yourself to be a millionaire?


  1. For me I would want to have $1 million dollar in cash/investments to claim the millionaire title. I don’t like including your primary residence as you’re always going to need to live somewhere so it doesn’t have much liquidity value.
    The one thing that always throws people is a pension, especially a defined benefit. Those can have a huge value but many people don’t consider them as a part of their net worth…even if it’s a guaranteed amount.

    • Couple of Sense says:

      Great insight Sarah. My counter would be that you could possibly rent a place to live or have a second property. The problem is that people include emotional value into their home price which drives up theiron net worth. I’d agree that having the money completely accessible is the most accurate measure.

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