Does The Average Net Worth Of Your Peers Equal Your Own?

Occupy ProtesterHave you ever wondered what the average net worth is of your peers? It’s probably impossible to know for sure unless they show you a spreadsheet and tell you. However, it’s possible to make an estimate based on their income, age, real assets, and spending habits. People always say that you’re the average of your five peers, so it might be good to do some calculations to see if the theory holds true.

I’ve put together a list of five friends and five acquaintances. Their respective net worths are rough estimates based on what I know about their visible assets and how long they’ve worked.

See how they compare to the median 2007 net worth of all US households at around $109,000 based on a Federal Reserve survey.

NET WORTH ESTIMATION OF FIVE PEERS

* Nancy. Age: 40. Job: Investment banker.  House value: $3 million.  Equity: $1.5 million.  Income: $800,000.  Savings: $800,000.  Two cars: $60,000.  Other assets: $1 million. Estimated net worth: $3.5 million. Nancy is a friend I’ve known for 10 years.  She has three kids in private school and therefore has a high operating nut.

* Lyndon. Age: 34. Job: Strategy consultant. House value: rents  Savings: $400,000.  Assets: $600,000.  Income: $300,000.  Estimated net worth: $1,000,000. Lyndon is a buddy I’ve known since New York City in 1999.  He wants to leave his job and be a photographer.

* Greg. Age 34. Job: Unemployed.  House value: $1 million. Equity: $400,000. Savings: $1 million. Estimated net worth: $1.4 million. Greg is taking time off after cashing out from his tech firm.

* Linda. Age 32. Job: Sales manager. Income: $120,000. Rents. Savings: $230,000. Small Business: $200,000. Estimated net worth $430,000. Linda is a fellow San Franciscan who is looking to do something new before age 35.

* Peter. Age 33. Job: Construction engineer. House value: $250,000. Equity: -$100,000. Savings: $150,000. Estimated net worth: $100,000. Peter is my tennis buddy who enjoys dating online.

After adding up all five net worth figures and dividing by 5, I get: $1,286,000.  

THE NET WORTH OF FIVE ACQUAINTANCES

* Casey.  Age 48. Job: Fund manager. House value: $7,000,000. Equity: $5,000,000. Savings: $5,000,000. Vacation house equity: $5,000,000. Other assets: $10,000,000. Estimated net worth: $25,000,000.

* Mustafa.  Age 35.  Job: Blogger. House value: rents. Operating Income: $70,000. Rental house value: $250,000. Equity: $50,000. Assets: $250,000. Estimated Net worth: $300,000.

* Gustavo.  Age 34. Job: MBA student. Rents. Savings: $15,000. Assets: $20,000. Car: $30,000. Debt: $15,000. Estimated net worth: $50,000. Gustavo is another tennis friend of mine.

* Jim.  Age 40. Job: Finance. House price: $700,000. Home equity: $0. Savings: $150,000. Assets: $300,000. Car: $50,000.  Zero debt. Income: $250,000. Estimated net worth: $600,000. Estimated net worth with inheritance: $2 million.

* Tiffany.  Age 27. Job: Personal trainer. Rents. Assets: $8,000. Car: $6,000. Student Loans: $30,000. Estimated net worth: $-15,000.

The average net worth of the following five acquaintances is around $5 million dollars. The net worth average is obviously skewed by my friend Casey. If we take out Casey, the average net worth is $230,000.

NET WORTH CONCLUSION

Net worth is a function of age, income, occupation, luck, and savings rates. Most of my closest friends are in their 30s.  A couple of them plan to retire or do something else shortly, leading to a decline in their respective incomes. That said, I suspect all their net worths will continue to increase due to their good savings and spending habits.

I’ve got poor friends and I’ve got rich friends. Tennis and other common interests are what keeps us together. The level of wealth just so happens to be of something fun and interesting to discover. Net worth doesn’t matter between friends. Based on the following examples, the average net worth of my peers is not statistically close to my own.

To Improve Your Net Worth I Recommend:

Managing Your Finances Online: 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 25+ difference 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 and when my CDs are expiring. Personal Capital even tracks your net worth progress so you don’t have to. There is no better tool online that can help you build wealth for free. It only takes a minute to sign up.

Checking Your Credit Score: Take a moment to check your free credit score through GoFreeCredit.com, especially if you have not done so in the past year. You need to protect yourself against identity theft and errors in your credit history which will damage your financials and prevent you from getting the lowest interest rate for loans. I had a 100 point hit on my score for two years due to an $8 late payment by my tenants! The score delayed my mortgage refinance and almost derailed the entire process. The average credit score for rejected mortgage loans is 729!

Photo: Occupy SF, 2012, SD.

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Since I have moved to Florida I haven’t found many close friends. My friends from where I used to live are probably more in line with the average net worth for my age and I think I am slightly above it. I don’t think it matters though. I am not friends with them because of their net worth.

  2. says

    Wow, I’d be interested in knowing this but the net worth of our friends isn’t something that we know specifically. I know some have a little money saved, some don’t have any, some have used up their savings so one could stay at home with their kids, others make $100K per year and are in the process of saving. I think we’re probably an average of our friends, especially when I divide our net worth by two to get our individual net worths.

  3. says

    I really don’t focus on what others have in terms of net worth, but instead focus on my own net worth and getting ahead. There are many variables to a net worth, some are true, others are a little skewed due to certain variables. For example, in your recent article I mentioned that I have a friend who owns a condo like my self, except that his parents donated him $60k for a down-payment. Of course his net worth will be bigger vs. mine, as I only put down 10%, and he put down 20% on our respective condo purchases. So, is that true net worth vs. someone who dropped their down-payment? I think not, its kind of skewed in my opinion.

    • David M says

      IMHO how much you put down on the house does not effect your net worth or the net worth comparison of you to your friend.

      What does matter is he was given 60K – a lucky man he is!

      It might be skewed in your opinion but I still think he gets to claim the 60K in his net worth calculation.

  4. says

    My net worth is higher than all of my friends, but that is because I moved out young, bought a house and cars young, and I’ve always had a full-time job. I’m sure eventually they will all catch up though.

    • David M says

      Unless you have been very skilled in your car purchases – I do not think purchasing “cars young” has helped increase your net worth. A car is “generally” one of the quickest depreciating things you can purchase.

      • says

        I’m just saying that I’ve always been more responsible with my money. But yes, our car purchases have always been good investments. One of our cars has tripled in value and one has quadrupled. My car has been pretty steady though.

        • David M says

          Nice nice! My cars have all lost money. However, since I bought my first new car over 25 years ago, I have bought a total of 3 news cars – thus I have not lost to much money by buying cars. One was in 1988, one in 1998 and my last was purchased in 2005.

        • says

          Thanks! Luckily he is good with cars. We have a classic truck that we bought for $4K and now it’s worth nearly $20K! And we bought a Jeep around 3 months ago and now it’s worth a lot more. Thankfully he can fix anything with cars.

          • says

            Wow, your car gained 5x in value? What is it?

            Maybe you can write a post and teach us how because those are amazing returns!

            I’m particularly interested in buying a Jeep and tripling the value!

        • says

          We bought a 1961 Chevy Apache for $4K (got a great deal) and after a little work (very minimal, just flushing fluids, etc.), and now it’s worth a ton more and in perfect condition. And the Jeep we bought for around $2.5K and we recently had someone asking to buy it for around $7.5K. We’ve been thinking about getting into the flipping cars (like houses haha) business!

  5. Brian says

    “Based on the following examples, the average net worth of my peers is not statistically close to my own.”

    Sorry if this was covered in an earlier post (I just found your blog recently, really great work!). Did you write about your current situation in a prior post? I’m going through them all, but you’ve written quite a bit over the years, it’ll take time! (which is fine, I love this stuff!)

  6. says

    I have a mix of so many different friends in so many different fields, but I will say this–because I grew up with parents who were terrible with money, I always had a desire NOT to be that way…so once I started working full time I began saving a percentage of my income every week–like clockwork…and this little step has made my net worth more than some of my friends with double the income I have…I sincerely believe that you must have a desire to be financially independent…I am not there, but am on my way. great article, once again.

    Joe

    • says

      It’s great that your parents bad money habits created good money habits! I attest this to your own will, b/c many people say they develop good money habits from their parents good money habits.

  7. says

    I think it’s an interesting exercise and impossible to know for sure. It’s fun to guess, but you don’t know if they’re sending cash to family members, blowing tons of money on online gaming sites, or saving like mad. Appearances are incredibly deceiving. Also, you can’t believe everything someone says. Rich people “cry poor” and poor folks “live rich.”

  8. says

    Although I have successful friends around me, I think I match their net worth. I may not earn as much as some of my friends, but I was better at saving and investing. This is only a guess on my part based on trips we take together.

  9. Financial Advice for Young Professionals says

    I’m not sure what the net worth of my friends are but I know I’m in the top 10% of my friends. I started working when I graduated, and have been saving and workin since I was in high school.

    Unfortunately though for me, this won’t last much longer unless I develop some more sources of income as quite a few of my friends are in medical and law school!

  10. says

    I’m not really sure of my friends’ net worth, however the ones that own homes probably have a net worth slightly higher than my own. Though I think I’m much more intune with my finances than most of my friends.

  11. says

    i have no clue what the average net worth of my peers are. I would agree however that the range is from less to more than what my own is. The thing I find the most interesting it those who seem to make the most appear more modest with the spending and save more. I have others that make decent money but mention savings, 401ks, etc and it quickly gets quiet. The ones you expect to be better with money are some of the worst. Besides many wont really give you a good picture anyway lying about what they actually do have.

  12. Untemplater says

    This is a cool post Sam. I don’t know the specifics of my friends net worth but I think I fall above average since several of them are in grad school, earning a teachers salary, or stay at home moms with similar housing situations. Even though I don’t feel the need to know the details of their finances I do wish they liked to talk about personal finance. I love discussing ways to save money and investment opportunities.

  13. says

    My net worth isn’t close to my peers. Then again, all went to different schools with different plans to pay for it, and income hasn’t yet come into their net worth equation. Most are going on to graduate school immediately after a 4-year degree, so there’s even more time with zero or limited income priced in.

    But who knows? They could be sitting on a future inheritance of millions for all they or I know.

    • says

      Not sure if the net worth relevancy really counts or is statistically significant for those who haven’t worked for several years. Can be all over the map due to other reasons.

  14. says

    I couldn’t even begin to guess what my friends have in the bank. I know some of their 401(k) information because I helped them looking over the funds, but that gave no insight to what is sitting in the bank.

  15. John says

    Here’s mine which reflects the reality of most Americans: Age 35. Income $39,000. Home Value $95,000. Equity $8k. Car value $3000. Savings $500. 401k $9000. Student loan debt $19,000. Credit card debt $2500. Credit score 790.

  16. says

    What really surprises me is that your friends either tell you or let you approximate (by guessing) their savings. You have to have a pretty good picture of their saving habits + spending to guess what they have. My friends NEVER tell me how much they have (or not.) So this exercise would not work for me. I can guess but guessing something that I don’t even know approximately won’t result in anything. :)

    • says

      I’ve know these friends for a very long time. One mentioned his entire savings, income and operating expenses he has to pay. Others are just approximations based on years worked, income, and assets.

      As I said in the beginning of the post, one won’t know for sure unless someone says so. Even then, who knows. Just thought this would be a fun exercise. You’ll find a lot of net worth posts online in the blogosphere.

  17. alicia says

    so, according to this post, if i have a better grade (richer) friends (peers) i can up my net worth. also, if i own a home rather than rent, i’d be well off much more.

    geeze, i think you are absolutely brilliant.

    not.

    want to know the net worth of your ‘friends’? you can look it up on the internet, do a zillow on their property, check out the property tax records, etc. etc. that’s how i know my so-called “rich” friends, the ones who jet set off to the carribbean often, own vacation homes in Wyoming or Miami, eat out at fancy gourmet restaurants, drive fancy BMW or VW cars, and YES even play tennis, are really broke. Some of them even have tax liens on their properties. And are in credit card debt up to their eye balls.

    i’d like to know how you found out all this information about your peers and associates?

    • says

      How’d you find this post to begin with?

      Sounds like something bad financially has happened to you and I’m sorry. Hope you can get out of your funk.

      Re-read the post to learn how I got this info.

  18. says

    I am in IT, but I also have businesses. So, I have few close friends in IT and few in hotel business. I don’t know if I can guesstimate their assets, but business owners do seem to have lot more asset( average $2 million + networth) whereas IT workers(my friends) may have asset in $300-$500K range.

  19. Darwin's Money says

    I think the net worth assessment is flawed in many ways and probably the best measure is actually income, not net worth. Many people with similar incomes run in the same circles, but their net worths can differ dramatically. I know people who make plenty and have horrible financial management skills and have negative net worth. Conversely, you never know (people often don’t broadcast it) when someone has a substantial net worth from an inheritance or just general frugal savings habits. Aside from that, it depends completely on which 5 you pick. Of the ones you chose to assess, the standard deviation is enormous!

  20. Mike says

    Since I’ve been told children are priceless, doesn’t that mean women like the octo-mom have the highest net worth?

  21. says

    Wow, you know some very hardworking and successful individuals. Wish my net worth could be in the millions by the time I’m in my mid 30s. A quick calculation of the 5 closest work mates from my job would probably put their average net worth around the $0.5 to $1 million range. My net worth is only a dismal ~$100K (T_T) But I’m also 12 years younger than their average age.

  22. Real World says

    The Financial Samurai is so out of touch with reality – not too many 30 or 40-somethings have hundreds of thousands in savings

  23. Eric Shun says

    Here are the stats on a very close friend:
    Age: 50
    Annual Salary: $70K
    House Value: $120K
    House Equity: $120K
    IRA: $400K
    non-IRA: $360K
    Student Loan: $20K

    Net Worth = $860K

  24. says

    Great post! I just realized I hit the $300k mark this week. It feels good to have come so far! Yet the whole $2M goal still seems impossible. It’s good to read about different people who have varying levels of networth and are still doing well enough. :)

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