'High earner, not rich yet': How to tell if you're a 'Henry,' based on your salary, savings, and lifestyle

HENRYs millennial

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Henrys are millennials who live comfortably but feel broke.

Are you a millennial who earns six figures and still feels broke? Then you might be a "Henry" - short for "high earner, not rich yet."

Melkorka Licea first reported on the Henry millennial for the New York Post. Shawn Tully invented the acronym in a 2003 Fortune magazine article, and it's come to characterize a certain group of six-figure earners who are mostly millennials, Licea wrote.Advertisement

Business Insider spoke to two experts to find out who, exactly, the typical Henry is: Priya Malani, founder of financial firm Stash Wealth, which bills itself as "Home of the Henrys"; and Gideon Drucker, CFP at Drucker Wealth and author of the upcoming book, "How to Avoid H.E.N.R.Y. Syndrome."

While there are certain markers to identify Henrys, such as earning over $100,000, they're ultimately defined by how they live their life: They live a comfortable lifestyle above their means and struggle to balance it with saving for the future. It's a combination of habits that puts them on a slow path to wealth building and leaves them feeling financially strapped.

Meet the typical Henry, according to Malani and Drucker.
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Henrys are typically individuals earning over $100,000 or couples earning over $150,000, according to Malani.

Henrys are typically individuals earning over $100,000 or couples earning over $150,000, according to Malani.

But you can still make more or less and be a Henry. Malani's full range of clients earn between $70,000 and $500,000.

Drucker said that Henrys often make six figures, but that identifying a Henry is more about perspective than income. "The greatest way I identify a Henry is that you're comfortable, can live a life you want without much financial concern, and can continue to do so without that much work," he said. "You keep cycling the wheel, but you're not getting any closer to financial goals."

He added that it's the feeling of knowing you haven't done the planning or saving — that you could be doing more.

Henrys can be any age, but they're typically millennials.

Henrys can be any age, but they're typically millennials.

While the typical Henry is a millennial, there is no age limit. The average Henry is 32, according to Malani. Sometimes her millennial clients ask her firm to work with their parents, so she ends up with clients ranging from ages 22 to 68.

Drucker personally works with those ages 25 to 40.

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Henrys are pretty evenly split between males and females.

Henrys are pretty evenly split between males and females.

Malani said her female to male client ratio is 50:50, while Drucker said his is 60:40. He sees a lot of couples and "single independent women in their 30s who want to make sure they're financially independent," he said.

Henrys work across a range of industries, but Drucker sees a lot of clients in the tech and creative or advertising industries.

Henrys work across a range of industries, but Drucker sees a lot of clients in the tech and creative or advertising industries.

"They're smart and often doing well right out of the gate," he said.

Malani said the industries Henrys work in range vastly, from software engineering and digital marketing to architecture and journalism. He's also worked with small business owners and Instagram influencers.

Both Malani and Drucker also see clients in high-paying industries, such as finance, medicine, and law.

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When it comes to geography, Henrys are primarily located where the high-paying jobs are: in cosmopolitan areas on the coast.

When it comes to geography, Henrys are primarily located where the high-paying jobs are: in cosmopolitan areas on the coast.

But you can find Henrys in any state, Malani said. While she's worked with Henrys in more than 35 states, most are located in New York, followed by California, and then the Washington D.C. area, she said.

There are also many Henrys in Texas, Florida, and Colorado, she added.

The typical Henry has saved between $15,000 and $20,000, Malani said.

The typical Henry has saved between $15,000 and $20,000, Malani said.

That may sound like a lot to the average millennial, who has less than $5,000 saved, but $20,000 is 20% of a $100,000 income.

Consider this: Malani helps clients make a plan to save 20% of their salary — if they don't have debt. On that guidance, a client earning $100,000 every year should be saving almost $20,000 every year (after taxes and given that they don't receive a raise in this hypothetical scenario), not over several years. With that perspective, a Henry's total savings of $20,000 max is actually not so hefty after all.

Drucker said one of the biggest issues Henrys face is not having a plan to make sure they're saving consistently and automatically. He helps them set up a bucket plan, which segments money based on each Henry's purpose into now, later, and last "buckets" — liquid money, growth-oriented money, and retirement money, respectively.

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That might be because Henrys typically live above their means and are victim to the lifestyle creep, according to Drucker.

That might be because Henrys typically live above their means and are victim to the lifestyle creep, according to Drucker.

Lifestyle creep is when one increases their standard of living to match a rise in their discretionary income.

But just because a Henry's income keeps going up doesn't mean they have to spend more money, Drucker said. In fact, they shouldn't spend more. If they get used to living off $3,000 or $4,000 a month, they might wake up a decade later and find they're spending $10,000 a month, he added.

Avoiding lifestyle creep is often touted by experts as one of the key ways to build wealth.

But many Henrys also have student debt: They owe $80,000 in student loans on average, Malani said.

But many Henrys also have student debt: They owe $80,000 in student loans on average, Malani said.

That's about $50,000 more than the national average. Malani said about 40% of Stash Wealth's Henrys are dealing with student debt. She once had a couple as clients who owed more than $500,000, she said.

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Henrys' biggest financial issue is finding the balance between living for the now and setting money aside for the future, Drucker said.

Henrys' biggest financial issue is finding the balance between living for the now and setting money aside for the future, Drucker said.

"They need to make it a fair fight between the steak dinner or vacation and planning for the future," he said.

As such, some Henrys make the mistake of remaining too focused on the moment and waiting too long to start thinking about their finances, Malani said. "The longer you wait to get your financial [act] together, the more you'll have to compromise."