According to The Wall Street Journal, the average net worth per person in America was $182,000 back in 2010. That’s pretty huge given all the media likes to do is talk about how people aren’t saving and investing enough for their retirement. 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.
RECOMMENDATION TO IMPROVE YOUR NET WORTH
Manage Your Finances In One Place: The best thing you can do to grow your net worth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.
Their 401K Fee Analyzer tool is saving me over $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying. As a result of discovering these portfolio fees, I rebalanced my portfolio to low cost ETFs and Index Funds to save me over $100,000 in fees over the next couple of decades. There is no better free financial management platform out there that is helping me manage my money. By having an overview of all your finances, you’ll be able to better optimize your finances. I signed up in 2011 and have seen my net worth rocket higher since then. The entire sign-up process takes less than a minute.
Fully updated on 5/5/2015.
Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”