Where do you stack up against the average American net worth?
Everyone has a net worth. It’s a great way to assess your current financial situation. Is your family wealthy? Or do you, like many others, fall for the lazy way of thinking about what being wealthy or rich actually means? The way a lot of people view wealth is material and monetary accumulation. Or, the one who has most stuff (and money) when they die, wins.
Owning stuff does not mean you’re wealthy and it might actually mean the opposite. It all depends on how you paid for the things.
I grew up learning the basic duality of wealth, which meant rich = good, poor = bad.
Why would we need to complicate it more than that? Well, because it’s so dang fun! So let’s jump in, feet first and let’s talk about the term net worth. Are you confused by it? If you want to jump ahead to see how you stack up, click here.
What is Net Worth?
The financial world is full of weird words and ideas that you most likely won’t encounter anywhere else. Unless you have very geeky friends, like me. One such idea or such concept is net worth.
To be able to look at the topic of riches for any family or individual we need to learn what net worth means. The simple explanation is that net worth is everything you own minus everything you owe. Simple enough, right?
If it is that simple, can’t I stop writing here then?
Well, sure. But I figure I’ll explain a bit more and you read on if you feel like the explanation above seems too simple, fair?
How to Calculate Net Worth?
To obtain this figure, you will take all of your assets (add them together) and subtract your debts (liabilities). Ex: $75,000 in assets with $73,000 in debt = your net worth should be $2,000.
At this point in your life if you are a great investor your net worth should be over six figures, but if you have heavy debt then it’s going to be on the lower end or in the red (in debt). However, this also depends on your age. So let’s look into the average net worth by age so you can see how you stack up.
Before comparing your net worth, just remember that there is mean net worth and median net worth.
Looking at the difference:
- “Mean” is the average net worth, what the group’s average is in one number.
- “Median” is pretty simple, take the middle of all those numbers and that’s the value. This value gives you a much better picture of what a financial situation is for an age group.
The “mean” is the “average” you’re used to, where you add up all the numbers and then divide by the number of numbers. The “median” is the “middle” value in the list of numbers.
Median net worth and mean net worth obviously vary by age. Let’s see by how much.
Age 35 and Under (Millennials) Net Worth:
$11,000 was the ‘median’ net worth
According to the Federal Reserve, $76,200 in 2016 was the mean for an American household. The harsh reality though was that $11,000 was the median net worth. This age group is hampered by the student loan debt crisis related to education countrywide and stagnation in wages. The financial crisis didn’t help either. Millennials face the burden of high debt levels and interest on debt that builds year after year, that keeps the debt from being paid off. If you’re in this age group, just know that the game isn’t rigged, here are some legitimate tips to pay off those student loans quickly!
People in this age group have also just started out in careers and lack assets that say someone in their 50’s could potentially have. Americans under 35 typically are renters and not have any equity in the place they live.
Age 35-44 Net Worth:
$59,800 was the ‘median’ net worth
According to the Federal Reserve, 35-44 head of households have their mean net worth at $288,700 but the median is low at $59,800. Americans in this group again are burdened with student loan debt. Other factors come into play but this is the main reason for the low net worth.
They may or may not own a home, but remember, having a mortgage is a debt (liability). You also may need to do some upgrades or a complete home remodeling before you have any equity thus lowering a net worth. Child-related expenses also play a role and if you have lots of credit card debt this can also be factored into determining net worth. If you’re in this group, remember to look for easy ways to save, because tiny expenses do add up so try to get free or reduced child care and do not use credit cards unless absolutely necessary.
Age 45-54 Net Worth:
$124,500 was the ‘median’ net worth
According to the Federal Reserve, $727,500 was the mean net worth and $124,500 median net worth.
This group benefits from those high salaries. They have better home equity, growing their assets, investing wisely in finances and potentially real estate.
This group shows how saving early does benefit in the long run.
Age 55-65 Net Worth:
$187,300 was the ‘median’ net worth
According to the Federal Reserve, was the $1,167,500 mean net worth!
Although the median is fairly low at $187,300.
These amounts usually come from retirement investments with years and years of compounding interest.
Age 65-74 & over 75 Net Worth:
$224,100 was the ‘median’ net worth
According to the Federal Reserve, a drop in net worth to $1,066,000 makes this a little different of a group. They actually are the highest of all age groups to have a high median net worth, $224,100. This shift is because people retire and are no longer investing money but using it for daily expenses.
The downside is that if you aren’t worth a million or more and unable to retire due to finances you will be working into those ’70s. The higher into the ’70s and up have about the same net worth and most people are retired.
How to Increase Your Net Worth
Your personal net worth is the best way to actually know if you’re rich. Or rather, it’s the best way to know your actual wealth. Negative net worth is as I said earlier, not ideal, as in bad. It means you owe more than you own and could benefit from some quick money hacks to turn that ship around…
Do you remember the line from the movie Fight Club?
|“THE THINGS YOU OWN, END UP OWNING YOU.”|
Related to net worth, the line would be the things you own, are actually owned by someone else. So, never mind.If you have a negative net worth, I guess that’s true. Or, wait, no it’s not. The minimalist in me loves that line, though, I suppose.
Even if your net worth is negative, it’s good to know. Net worth is one of the best ways to track how your wealth develops and improving your net worth is how to grow your wealth.
In our family, I track my personal net worth with budgeting tools that I update every now and then. A few years ago I fell for the myth that owning a house is one of the best investments you can make.
Especially not if you have to fix the house.
Looking back, I should have invested money in the stock market using investment apps and held off on buying a house. It would have been better for my net worth as well. Especially if you add compound interest. But that’s a story for another day, my friend.
You should by now understand how you stack up against others in your age group by viewing our average net worth by age list. Simply put, to increase your net worth, reduce your liabilities.
Net worth can help you track your path to becoming wealthy and financial independence. Which is also nice to have a visual overview of. I’m on that path. And have very special budgeting tools to track it.
How about you, do you track your net worth? Do you also use lovely budgeting tools?