The Average American Net Worth Is Huge!

average-net-worth-2014According to The Wall Street Journal, the average net worth per person in America was $182,000 back in 2010. Then came a 2014 Credit Suisse survey highlighting the average net worth in America is a whopping $301,000 (see pic)! Regulars here know that I’ve been pretty positive about the economy for a while, and this stat just makes me even more so.

Originally, I had my doubts about the $182,000 figure, since the median 2007 net worth of all US households is $109,000 based on a Federal Reserve survey. However, could it be that everybody in America can all buy new Porsche 911 Turbos with plenty of money left over if they wanted to? After some thought, I shared the story over social media to see what the community would say, and the negative responses astounded me!

NOBODY BELIEVES IN REALITY

No sooner did I send the link out did people start discrediting the figure. They used straw hat arguments such as “Bill Gates skews the average” and using average, instead of median, or mean is misleading. Average is average, and we can have 10 Bill Gates in America, and the average net worth still wouldn’t be abnormally skewed among a denominator of hundreds of million! Don’t believe me? Do the math yourself and see how much change an average $150,000 per person net worth figure out of 200 million is once you include 10 people worth $50 billion each.

What’s more interesting is that the naysayers who are so determined to discredit the Wall Street Journal all have net worth’s greater than $182,000. It’s the darndest thing I tell ya. It would be one thing if they were all 35 years old with only net worths of under $50,000 or something. But they aren’t.

I’ll admit I’m over this figure, and so are all my colleagues who are over 30 years old as well. Given this is the case, I now easily can see why the average net worth per person is around $182,000. Heck, it might even be higher!  The average age in America is around 35, and based on a sample set of around 20, there’s no reason not to believe in this figure.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a record highs at 17,800+, the S&P 500 is at a record high at 2,050+, and real estate prices in major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco have all breached 2007 prices to reach new all-time highs as of 11/23/2014. Clearly, the economy has improved a lot since the 2008-2010 financial crisis.

THE REASON WHY THERE ARE DISBELIEVERS

There are two main ways to get ahead: 1)outperform others or 2) hope others underperform you. I always prefer to rely on myself to try and outperform because I have no control over what others do.  The only person I can control is myself!  Furthermore, the better the average does, the less you feel great about yourself.

As a result of this phenomena, it is no wonder why everybody on Twitter tried to discredit the Wall Street Journal’s $182,000 average net worth per person figure. The figure is an attack on their own success and makes them not feel as good about their own wealth accumulation.

Of course there is one glaring figure that I haven’t touched upon yet, and that’s the 2014 CS median net worth figure of $45,000. What happened since the Federal Reserve’s $109,000 median net worth figure from 2007? The answer is a mystery. The data all depends on how the survey is conducted and what numerator and denominators are used.

HUSTLE AND MAKE NO EXCUSES

It’s important to realize there’s no escaping the bell curve. At every level of competition, there will always be underperformers, folks in the middle, and outperformers. We consistently tend to OVERESTIMATE our own success and abilities and think we’re better than everyone else.  You know by definition that this is statistically impossible.

Instead of trying to keep people down to make yourself feel better, I encourage everyone to celebrate the success of others. Use their success as motivation for your own sake. The more you encourage others to succeed, you will rid yourself of that negativity that plagues your mind and flourish.

If you want to know what the average net worth is for the above average person here is a table I created for your review. Remember, this table is for above average people. The above average person regularly maxes out his or her 401k, saves at least 20% of their after tax, after 401k income, regularly invests in a well-diversified portfolio, and believes they deserve to be rich.

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person by Financial Samurai

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Updated for 2016 and beyond. Volatility has returned to the markets after a long bull run. Never confuse brains with a bull market!

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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Comments

  1. Gary Geesman says

    I am retired and would like to ask the community whether it is legitimate to figure my SS and my wife’s SS as an annuity in our net worth?

      • Charles Zuckerman says

        That is why median net worth and average net worth is different. If four people have $5 and 2 people have $6 and three people have $7 and one person has $1,000,000, the average worth of the group is $100,000.30/person. Whoo hoo everyone is rich!

        Oh wait, but 9 people are way way way below that and one is really really far above that. But the mean is $6/person. Half are equal to or below $6 and half are equal to or above $6. Pretty different.

        On the chart the US ranks 4th in average but 19th in median because the distribution of wealth is so great with such a small number of rich and a large number of poor. Countries where their average and median are close show balanced wage distribution.

        Now the chart doesn’t give numbers so we cannot accurately asses the scales of distribution variance, but the closer the average rank and the median rank the more equal the distribution. On this scale of twenty the U.S. has a 15 place delta between average and mean. However only Finland(10) and Sweden(12) join us with deltas above 10. The rest are 8 or below with 60% having deltas equal to or less than 5 (Australia – 1, Canada -1, Israel – 1, Singapore – 2, Taiwan – 2, Netherlands – 3, Ireland – 3, France – 4, New Zealand – 4, Switzerland – 5, Norway 5, Germany 5) . In other words we are rich but not universally so. Everyone appears rich in Australia and everyone is sharing the pain in Israel and Ireland.

  2. Sammy says

    This guy is nuts. Over 24% of Americans have no net worth or a negative net worth. So then the average is much higher for those at the top. Apparently some people are ok with the greed mentality over compassion for human beings.

  3. Question says

    Why do you ask what each commenter’s net worth is, and why does it matter? Do facts change depending on who is presenting them? Is this like the Heinsenberg uncertainty principle or the theory of relativity?

  4. d says

    uh, dont forget that the millionaires and billionairs at the top blow the curve. What would really be more interesting would be the median. This would let you know what the average American makes.

    • says

      “What would really be more interesting would be the median. This would let you know what the average American makes.” Do you hear yourself?
      Median= the middle number; the number that 50% make below and 50% make above.
      Average= the equal distribution of the total amongst all who were polled.

      It is a statistical, logical, grammatical and every-other-kind-of fallacy to say that the median would let you know the average.

      Argue, if you want, that the median provides a better impression of the situation, but do not argue with terms unless you understand the definitions.

      • Freddy says

        Of course the median provides a better impression. If 5 people are standing in a room; One has a net worth of $5M and the other 4 have a net worth of $0, then their average net worth is $1M. How is that anywhere near an accurate representation of the situation? Like… at all?

          • Freddy says

            But that doesn’t change the equation. There is incredible disparity between average net worth and median net worth.

            If you can’t comprehend the story being told when the median net worth is a fraction of the average net worth, then quite frankly, you’re clueless when it comes to economics.

  5. jim says

    I came across this site while researching American’s net worth for a college class. None of the other sources came close to $182,000. Most say the number is $77,300, and that that is according to the Federal Reserve. I am not close to either number but it’s amazing how much this number varies from one source to another, and reminds me not to believe everything I read on the internet.

  6. a guy says

    saying that mathematically the average wealth in america is x dollars, is a fundamentally different statement than saying that the average person on the street is actually making x dollars. if i have a village with 10 people in it, and nine of those people make a dollar a day, while one person in it makes one million dollars a day, then the average income for that village is $100,000.90 per day. but the median income is one dollar per day, the actual dollar amount that 50 percent of people make less than, and 50 percent of people make more than. so YES the average income IS misleading. it is not a reflection of how the actual *average* person on the street is doing. just because one person is doing really well doesn’t mean that nine out of ten people aren’t suffering, like in the example i just gave.

    all looking at the average does is tell you that those making more than the median are making WAY more than the median. that’s how math works.

  7. says

    Interesting data to throw on the fire or rich vs. poor:

    “In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.” (Source: Herritage.org)

    I’m all about helping the poor (it’s what I do), but the truth is that the best help we can give is education- like Financial Samurai. But most (and I say most) of America’s poor is not too distraught to pick themselves up. They just don’t yet know which direction to run.

    And in the mean time, let’s focus on directing charity to those who actually need our help. Not those whom falsely claim to be a part of the bottom 95%, but those who actually are (individuals making under $17k USD a year).

    Let us focus on improving our standard of living through innovation, business and charity. After all, they’ve helped us get to where we are today.

    As James Q. Wilson puts it, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”

    • says

      I like that last quote. It is so true. We’ve got it GOOD in the States! I just got back from Cambodia, and wow.. talk about poverty. We all need to go travel and see the world!

    • a guy says

      that honestly doesn’t mean much. america has the largest wealth inequality of any first world nation in the entire world. we have the most total wealth of any nation yet we are ranked 22nd by median wealth, with the average joe sixpack in slovenia having more to his name than the average joe american. and the median australian man / woman having over 5x as much! the inequality is absolutely disgusting, and needs to be changed.

      wealthy republicans will act like your typical american is asking for a handout whenever the proposal for more public services such as free public university education are made, when they are the very same people who stole all the wealth necessary to pay for such things in the first place. it is like a robber breaking into one’s house, stealing all of their stuff, and then expecting that person whom was robbed, to be grateful to the robber for giving them their tv back. saying that we should bow down to the wealthy because they “pay the most taxes” is a joke. where did they get that money from in the first place? oh yeah, as a group they stole it. 8.5 trillion missing from the pentagon since 1996 anyone?

      src for median: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_wealth_per_adult
      src for pentagon:http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/want-cut-government-waste-8-5-trillion-pentagon-142321339.html

  8. Liz says

    Thank you for the data. I use the data to see if I fit roughly into the mainstream, more like goal setting. Retirement financial calculators often asks us to enter our spend level in retirement. That could be almost as uncertain as it is with our portfolio value over the decades of retirement. Even professional money managers may have a challenging time managing money for 30 to 40 years to meet some abstract life style that is defined over three to four decades, let alone an average citizen. We have some rough idea of what average US life style is, even with its variations. If I fit the general center of bell curve, I can probably expect a life style more like the retired folks today. The figures also fit with my belief that $3M networth is needed for a comfortable, not luxurious, retirement life style, where one doesn’t have to watch every penny. I wish financial advisors would just make things super simple, not accurate, but simple, by stating that US$3M networth is needed to have a comfortable retirement. Instead, we always hear that goal depend on many things. Short of that, some budgeting is required during retirement. The lower the network is from $3M, the more one has to pinch’s one’s life style. In this case, having an unclear goal could lead to a much worse consequence than having a rough and not so accurate goal. If we could possibly share this data with high school kids and let them realize this is the goal in life, it might help our citizens to be more self sufficient financially when they retire.

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