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Publication: Investor's Notebook
THE OLD-FASHIONED ALTERNATIVE TO INVESTING

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       Investor's Insight - January 19, 2007           
          "A Digest of Investment Opinion From the 
             World's Leading Financial Advisers"

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THE OLD-FASHIONED ALTERNATIVE TO INVESTING
by Scott Burns

What? You still haven't made your fortune?

Beginning to think that you'll never get rich by investing?

Don't despair. 

There is still hope. It comes to us from an unlikely 
source, the Internal Revenue Service, in a study that 
is updated every three years. The most recent study, 
imaginatively titled "Personal Wealth, 2001," was 
published at the end of 2005 in the thrilling "Statistics 
of Income Bulletin." This means we can expect the 2004 
study around the end of 2008, so don't ask.

That's a tad late, but don't go thinking you can send 
your January estimated tax payment for 2006 at a more 
convenient time. Like 2011. The Internal Revenue Ser-
vice isn't big on reciprocity.

But let's not carp.

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The Internal Revenue Service is big on data about the 
income we earn and the assets all of us minions have 
accumulated. It develops the data because we are only 
transient custodians. Much of that income and related 
assets will eventually find its way into the IRS's 
ready hands.

So it's not surprising that it tracks our money better 
than the alumni department of your alma mater or that 
dogged charity to which you sent $15 in 1989.

That data is how the IRS may finally help you make your 
fortune: market research.

Data from the IRS is the first step on getting rich the 
old-fashioned way, through marriage. Its personal wealth 
studies are done by examining the estate tax filings for 
2001, filings that were required for gross estates of 
at least $675,000.

If you are wondering what the estates of people who are 
thoroughly dead has to do with your prospects of becoming 
wealthy through marriage, just be patient. I will explain.

Our friends at the IRS assume that the distribution of 
wealth among the recently dead is representative of the 
distribution of wealth among those still living. So they 
take the estate filing data and squeeze it through a 
matrix of actuarial assumptions to make estimates of 
wealth among the living.

Including those you might marry.

Here are the basic findings. In 2001 some 7.4 million 
people, about 3.5 percent of the adult population, had 
a combined net worth of $13.8 trillion and accounted for 
nearly 33 percent of all net worth. 

Four million of the 7.4 million were men, with an average 
net worth of $2 million. Some 66 percent were married, but 
16.3 percent were single, 8.7 percent were widowed, and 
8.5 percent were divorced or separated. About 73,000 of 
these men had an individual net worth of at least $10 
million.

It's a long trek to being listed in the Forbes 400.

There were 3.4 million wealthy women, with an average net 
worth of $1.7 million. There were 50,000 women with a net 
worth of at least $10 million. The good news for aspirant 
male fortune hunters is that only 49 percent of these 
lovely women were married. While only 14 percent of wealthy 
women were single, 26 percent were widowed, and nearly 11 
percent were divorced or separated.

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One thing the aspirant fortune hunter should gird for is 
that marrying well isn't likely to have you living in a 
palace. Burgeoning advertisements for houses that cost $1 
million and more notwithstanding, your wealthy target will 
probably be like the title of the book "The Million-
aire Next Door." While men with less than $1 million 
in net worth had nearly 21 percent of their net worth in 
their personal residence, those with at least $1 million 
but less than $10 million had only 10 percent. Men with 
at least $10 million had only 3 percent of their net worth 
in their personal residence.

So a bachelor with $10 million might easily be living in 
a (relatively) humble $300,000 house. Wealthy women had 
larger commitments to their personal residence, with women 
worth more than $10 million having 5 percent of their net 
worth in their home. That's a $500,000 house. It could be 
more, but you have to wonder: Who is buying the palaces 
in Naples, Jackson Hole and La Jolla?

Where do you go to hunt for a wealthy spouse?

Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia score
as the top three locations for millionaire density. A 
range of 3.2 percent to 2.4 percent of the adult population 
ranks as millionaires there. California ranks fourth for 
density, at 2.3 percent. But it ranks No. 1 for total num-
ber of millionaires at 572,000.

In sheer numbers, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas 
follow California. But Texas, for all its tales of extra-
vagant wealth, is pretty slim pickings. Only 1.2 percent 
of its adult population rank as millionaires. 

All in all, it sounds like tough work.

You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the new 
Investor's Insight forum. Check it out here...

 
Investor's Insight Forum

(Investor's Insight reflects the opinions of experts. It does 
not recommend any specific investments, and no endorsement is 
implied or should be inferred. For more information, contact 
the individual firms cited).

COPYRIGHT 2006 UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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