How does your net worth stack up to others? Find charts and examples here!

Net Worth: The Numbers

How does your net worth stack up to others? Find charts and examples here!

Have you completed your net worth statement yet in our most recent class?  I hope you found it useful!

What does your net worth mean?  Or does it mean anything at all?  The biggest dividing line is whether your net worth is positive or negative.  If your net worth is negative, you owe to others more than what you own and that in and of itself would be considered “bad” net worth.  On the positive side of net worth, there is no set number that is a “good” net worth.  If you live a life where material possessions aren’t your focus as I explain in my recent post Money Can Buy Happiness, you can have a very low net worth and be completely financially stable for your stage of life.

Think for example of a young family that lives well within their means, doesn’t have any debt, rents a home, owns inexpensive used cars, has $5,000 in an emergency fund and is just starting to save for retirement.  Although their net worth may be less than $10,000, they likely have a lot more peace of mind regarding financial matters than someone with 10 times their net worth, yet significant amounts of debt and property to take care of.

That being said, it’s still fun to look at the numbers and see what net worth statistics look like in the U.S.

The most recent U.S. Census data is from 2010 (it’s taken every 10 years).  All of the information I’ve compiled below is based on the Census data which you can find here.

NET WORTH BY AGE

First, let’s start by looking at some charts that break out the percentages of net worth based on age.  Now that you’ve calculated your own net worth (or if you haven’t just estimate it quickly):

  1. Go to the chart that shows your age group and find the section of the pie chart that includes your net worth.  This will tell you the percentage of those in your age group with similar net worth.
  2. Then add up that percentage in your section and all of the sections with net worth greater than yours to find out the percentile rank that your net worth falls in based on your age.  For example, if you are a 32-year-old with net worth of $30,000 you would go to the first chart below and find that 8% of those 35 years and younger have the same net worth range as you.  Then you would add up 8% ($25-49.9k) + 10% ($50-99.9k) + 10% ($100-$249.9k) + 3% ($250-499.9k) + 2% ($500k) = 33% percentile.  This means that you are in the top 33% of people for net worth for your age.

Net Worth for Ages 35 and Under - compare yours!Net Worth for Ages 35-44 years old - compare yours!

Net Worth for Ages 45-54 years old - compare yours!

NET WORTH BY TYPE OF ASSET

Another interesting thing to look at in this data is WHAT assets people in different net worth categories own.  This is presented in the chart below.  If you look at your net worth range, you will see the median value of the assets held by those in the same category as you.  To use the same example above (32-year-old with $30,000 net worth), this person could compare the amount they have in interest-earning bank accounts to the median value ($1,500), their IRA and 401(k) accounts to the median value ($9,100 & $19,652), their home equity to the median value ($26,000), etc.  Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it’s just interesting to compare.  The most surprising statistic from this chart to me is the low retirement balances (IRA, KEOGH, 401(k) and Thrift Savings Plans).  The least surprising is the ranges of real estate equity in comparison to overall wealth.

Median Asset Value by Type and Net Worth
click image to enlarge

NET WORTH BY EDUCATION

The following chart shows net worth by education level.  Although there is a significant portion of people with graduate or professional degrees with zero or negative worth (I would assume these are newly graduated students with lots of student loan debt!), the three highest net worth ranges from $100,000 to $500,000+ net worth show that education does correspond with higher wealth.  This also would suggest to me that student loan debt can indeed be an investment in your future.

Net Worth by Education Level - It IS worth it to pursue higher education!

THE REAL MEANING (of life…)

Don’t forget that the important thing is that your net worth is positive and also that it is growing and not decreasing.  Keep planning and working toward your financial goals and you’ll create a great life for yourself free of financial worries no matter what the numbers say!

Do you feel that there is any value in comparing your net worth to others?

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve only recently tried to start tracking my net worth and sadly it’s in the negative. It is interesting to see that negative number moving in a more positive direction, though. I definitely don’t compare mine to others though because I don’t want to be discouraged. Everyone’s situation is different.

  2. I know Latoya already stopped by, but I can’t help myself…. This is such an interesting way of looking at things! I’m surprised by how much better I’m doing than I thought compared to peers in my age group, and the educational aspect is interesting. I wonder if they have it further segmented for education and age group. I’d love to see when the traditional tipping point happened.

    1. I’m sure they have that information, but unfortunately it’s not in the data that they provided. I think that would be so interesting also-I love statistics about all things personal finance!

  3. I guess I’m in the top 25% of my age group! I suspect, though, that net worth growth is a bit “exponential.” It probably grows slowly in the early ages, but grows rapidly as people get older (homeownership, retirement, etc.).

    1. You rock-25% is awesome! There is definitely a curve there and probably more so with those that start out with student loans. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. My age group is looking pretty rough!!
    One thing I think is funny about net worth calculations is that Mint always puts my home into my net worth! It makes me look much better off than I really am. Maybe there is a way to change that and only count the equity but it annoys me because I love mint for everything else. I have personal capital too but haven’t used it as much.

    1. Do you have your mortgage debt (if you have any) in your net worth calculation? That’ll correct it to include just the equity. Mint and Personal Capital are great for different things, but YNAB is by far my favorite!

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