The One Percent Goal

There’s a lot of rhetoric against the so called one-percenters. The concept of the 99% versus the one percent seemed to gain prominence with the Occupy movement. It’s quite trendy right now to blame the wealthy for many problems in the world.

So is it wrong to strive to join the top one percent? I don’t think it is. To me, it’s about competition. By definition, there is always a top one percent in everything that is measurable. We’re always competing for resources. Even if money and wealth is not important to you, you’re still competing for resources in other ways. Perhaps you’re competing to find the best mate. Perhaps you’re competing for limited spaces in the best public schools for your kids.

Whatever you’re competing for, recognize it. Be aware of what competition you are in and who you are competing with. I believe you should strive to get into the top one percent in everything that is important to you.

If fitness is really important to you, then strive to get into the top one percent for your age group, or your community, or your city. Here in Vancouver, there is an annual 10Km run that always gets a large turnout. The 2015 Sun Run saw 33,300 participants. To get to the top one percent club in that race, you’d have needed a time of under 40 minutes. That’s nine minutes and 48 seconds faster than I’ve ever run a 10k; however, it’s not unobtainable. If running is your thing, aim for that one percent club.

If you are a teacher, strive to enable your students to perform in the top 1% of their school or their province.

If you are passionate about a particular social cause, strive to get it to the top of the public agenda. You are competing with other social causes for attention and resources.

If gaining wealth is important to you, then strive to Get To 1 Percent! Recognize that you are in competition. But also take the time to determine why it’s important to you. Make sure you are pursuing it for the right reasons – which only you can decide.


There are several reasons why for me striving to get to the one percent club is a worthwhile goal:

I have the opportunity

My parents came to Canada in the 1970s with a net worth of less than $1,000. They built a life here and did everything they could to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow. I feel incredibly privileged to live in Canada, have an education, and seemingly endless possibilities of what I can do in life. Certainly most of the other 7 billion people on this planet would love to have the opportunities I do. This motivates me to take advantage of the opportunity I have.

I want to provide for my family

In the same way that my parents worked hard to provide me with every experience and opportunity possible, I want to do the same for my family.

It’s a way to keep score and prove value

Unless I win the lottery, which will be pretty difficult considering I don’t buy tickets, getting into the one percent club will mean earning my way in. Doing this means I will have to add a lot of value to the world in some way that results in financial reward.

I want to enjoy life

Enjoying life and being happy certainly doesn’t take money. I’d like to believe that you could take my entire net worth away from me and I could still be happy and enjoy life. That said, money certainly is helpful to buy time with family and friends and enable great experiences like traveling and experiencing other cultures.

I want to contribute to society

I want to give back to society. The more I earn the greater my ability to contribute to society either directly to causes I explicitly support or indirectly through taxes. Last year, we paid over $50,000 in taxes and while I might wonder sometimes about the efficiency of tax, paying it doesn’t bother me. I believe in social programs. I believe that everyone should have free access to the best healthcare and the best education.

What is the goal?

So what does it actually mean to get to the top one percent financially?

I am already in the one percent globally. In fact, the average Canadian with a pre-tax income of $49,000 is in the top 1.5% globally.

So what would it mean to be in the top one percent in Canada specifically? We can look at it by annual income or net worth. We can also look at it individually, or combined as a couple or household. I prefer to look at our income and net worth as one combined household number since that’s how I think about and manage our finances.

By Income

According to Statistics Canada, one has to earn $191,000 or more to qualify in the top 1% of income earners in Canada. If this were a combined household income, we’d already be there (barely). But it’s not. This is individual income, and so I’ve got a ways to go to achieve that goal. I haven’t been able to find this data for combined household incomes, other than the top 5% households earn more than $250,000. Doubling the $191,000 would probably be overstating the amount, so I’m roughly going to split the difference and assume an annual income of $300,000 is close to the threshold to get into the top one percent of household incomes in Canada.

Annual household income goal: $ 300,000

By Net Worth

According to the World Wealth Report, approximately 1% of Canadians had a net worth of $1M or greater. The report defines those with $1M or greater as high net worth individuals (HNWI).
So as a household, I suppose we double that and say we need $2M combined net worth to make it into the 1%. We have our work cut out for us!

Household net worth goal: $ 2,000,000

This blog is a way of tracking and sharing my journey as I strive to reach my financial goals and join the one percent club.

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