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)! Now in 2017, the average net worth for Americans is even higher thanks to a bull market in stocks and real estate.

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!


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 and Credit Suisse 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 19,100+, the S&P 500 is at a record high at 2,200+, 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 2017. Clearly, the economy has improved a lot since the 2008-2010 financial crisis.

S&P 500 historical price chart - all-time highs
S&P 500 Index at all-time highs in 2017


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 tries to discredit the Wall Street Journal's $182,000 average net worth per person figure and Credit Suisse's $301,000 average net worth figure? The figure is an attack on their own success and makes them not feel as good about their own wealth accumulation.

See: Abolish Welfare Mentality: A Janitor Makes $271,000 A Year, Why Can't You To?

Historical stock market corrections


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 is, here's a table for you to check out. 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


Stay On Top Of Your Money: If you want to build wealth, you need to know where your money is going. Sign up for Personal Capital, a free online wealth management tool which keeps track of your income and expenses, tracks your net worth, and provides portfolio analysis tools to see if you are properly positioned and paying too much in fees. I personally am saving over $1,700 in annual portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying after running my 401(k) through their Fee Analyzer tool!

Another excellent tool they rolled out is their Retirement Planning Calculator. Unlike other retirement calculators, Personal Capital's takes your real data from your linked accounts and runs thousands of algorithms through a Monte Carlo Simulation to produce the most realistic future financial scenarios possible. You can recalculate with multiple variables. I definitely recommend running your current finances through various scenarios to see how you're doing. Everything is free.

Retirement Planning Calculator
How does your retirement planning calculator results stack up? Click to sign up for free

About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened an online brokerage account in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at two of the leading financial service firms in the world. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $200,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom. was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites today with over 1 million pageviews a month. Financial Samurai has been featured in top publications such as the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Post has been updated for 2018 and beyond. 

About The Author

165 thoughts on “The Average American Net Worth Is Huge!”

  1. ” Clearly, the economy has improved a lot since the 2008-2010 financial crisis.”

    I laughed at this reading it today as the World Bank warns of “darkening skies”. Government propped up the banks with free money that they then squirreled away or chased after speculative investments with. Here we are a decade later and the crisis reemerges on a more powerful basis. It was only delayed, not eliminated.

    Just you wait for what’s to come: a repeat of the Great Depression but on a more international level.

    Read Paul Mattick.

      1. I don’t invest, because I don’t want to blood suck the exploited workers which are the real source of all profit. I’m not a parasite or mosquito. I’m a human.

        I’ve move out of the United States and I live a better life for 1/10 of the cost, and without fear that I’ll die in a mass shooting spree or at the hands of a killer cop.

        I’m betting that capitalism will collapse in my lifetime. So the only thing to plan for is a new form of society based on human needs instead of greed.

        1. pseudogrammaton

          I don’t blame you, the triumphalist tone of these investment blogs belie an insular view of the world …

          But in the real world… millennials are incurring an extra $5200/yr in total costs, more than offsetting the putative $3000/yr gain in income over their parents’ first jobs.

          Everyone’s feeling the pinch, w/ corporate rent-seeking imposing a not-so-invisible tax on everyone … just from healthcare & ISP/telco’s alone, we’re talking easily $500/yr overhead per capita. Just plain ol’ monopoly gouging.

          Wither the infrastructure spending? It went to a big fat $trillion tax break to the ultra-wealthy, the 8 million families who make up the 1% & believe the bobble-head blondes on Faux News…. Reactionary politics almost always have their origin w/ the classic rentier obsessions.

          And wage suppression is what happens to somebody else & excessive gains-taking without consideration to the burden it imposes on society is just fine, so long as we have our comfortable lies to salve our consciences….

  2. The per capita median income which the last I saw said was $49,000 is a better measure of wealth in the US. That means half of the people are below $49k and half are above. The average is heavily skewed by the multi-millionaires and billionaires in the US. A simple example. Let’s say you have 9 people who have $1 in wealth and 1 person who has $91 in wealth. The average wealth is $10 which doesn’t come close to measuring the reality for 9 of those people. The median of $1 does a far better job. Wealth in the US is not normally distributed because of the vast wealth held in the US by a very small percentage of the population which skews the average wealth number.

    1. “The per capita median income which the last I saw said was $49,000 is a better measure of wealth in the US.”


      Median income is not a measure of wealth at all. Neither income nor wealth are normally distributed, but they are entirely different things.

      As for the original post, the part that says “using average, instead of median, or mean” is quite odd considering that the average, as used here, IS the mean. Also, as others have noted, the fact that the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a small proportion of the population accounts for the mean being much higher than the median is hardly a “straw man argument.” Statistics do not seem to be a strong suit of the author.

  3. Average net worth is pretty meaningless for talking about most Americans’ financial situation. That’s because you have crazy outliers.

    The top 1% of Americans hold about 20% of the wealth in the nation.

    I bring that up not as a political rant, but just to point out that it explains the difference between the average and the median values. Warren Buffet walks into a bar, and the average wealth of people in the bar goes through the roof.

    Hustle and save is always good advice, no matter where you’re at on the income ladder. Still, income inequality is the reason for the sky-high average and a persistently low median. Framing these numbers as a matter of disbelief, and not the result of the current structure of our economy, is misleading.

  4. The people that have money at the top absolutely skew the numbers for people at the bottom. Let math put things into proper perspective

    There is a total of $85 Trillion in wealth in the US
    The top 20% has 80% of that wealth.
    That is $68 Trillion for them and $17 Trillion for the rest
    The top 20% represent 62,000,000 people
    The bottom 80% represent 248,000,000 people

    The Average for the top 20% is $1.097 Million per person
    The Average for the bottom 80% is $68,500 per person

    You see how they skew the numbers? If rich people didn’t skew the numbers, you could pretend they didn’t exist, take their wealth out of the equation and the average wealth would be $274,000 per person. But they DO skew the numbers because if you take them out, the average is much, much less. Hardly more than the price of a brand new truck while the average top 20% person has enough wealth to spend $3,000 per month for 30 years.

    The majority of people in the US are poor, and the ones at the top have their wealth largely calculated by assets that have hugely and falsely inflated values. Most Americans can’t cover an unexpected $1000 expense – isn’t that more meaningful than a simple average?

  5. This article made me laugh. It’s so naive.

    Claiming Bill Gates or a few millionaires don’t skew the data must be the stupidest thing ever. The wealthiest top 1% own around 40% of US wealth. Basic maths shows that the very rich are massively skewing the average wealth when calculated over the entire population.

    Even worse, the value of the average house is about $180,000 – $190,000. That means average net worth of $182,000 is equivalent to the average American having nothing but their home paid off an nothing else. (And since money is fungible this comparison is perfectly suitable as net worth doesn’t distinguish what the worth is from, just what the sum is).

    Combine the fact that a big proportion of wealth is held by 1% of the population, and the average net worth is about the same as the average house, and you can see that the vast majority of people have very little actual wealth.

  6. This article is misleading. Only the simplest math is being used in this article which is why the author is coming to irresponsible simple-minded conclusions. What makes this article virtually irrelevant? Consider this: 1) The bell curve mathematics that are being touted here WERE NEVER EVEN APPLIED in this article and therefore are only being speculated about. Furthermore, 2) a bell curve is not really the mathematical formula that would be helpful in understanding the distribution of wealth discussed in the article. Finally, 3) the bell curve model goes completely against the ideas expoused here about “hustling”. Bell curve mathematics begins with the postulation that distribution throughout the entire curve is required. This ultimately means that if there is a top 1% in wealth, there MUST also be a bottom 1% in wealth such that your efforts at climbing the income ladder only result in someone else HAVING to be forced down to a lower level because you “came up” by our own hustle.

    Points debunked by responsible mathematics:

    (Error number 1) The author says, “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.” – See more at:

    Well, I did the math based on the research, and according to an article on,, the wealthiest 1% of American households make up 43% of the net worth of all Americans. That is approximately $36.5 trillion of the total $84.9 trillion total net worth. Add in the next 4% weathiest American households and the top 5% of all American households own 72% of all net worth in America or approximately $61.13 trillion of the total $84.9 trillion networth for the whole country.

    So, billionaires, even in limited number, do have the ability to greatly skew the numbers.

    The numbers indicate that within the top 1% of American households, there are 2 million households with a net worth range from $9.2 million to upwards $50 billion. If all 2 million of the top 1% of households had the same bottom level $9.2 million net worth, it would still represent $18.4 trillion of total net worth. Since the actual net worth of the top 1% is closer to $36.5 trillion, it’s apparent that even within the top 1% of all American households the top earners do greatly skew the numbers higher as wealth disparity becomes more and more of a factor.

    (Error number 2) Author’s comment: 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.

    – See more at:

    This is a complete failure in statistical mathematics and his conclusions would be laughed at by any first year statistical mathematics student. The author’s own statements make it laughably apparent. The error here is one of improper conclusion based on statistically unreliable data. The first point shows that he did not do the math. This point shows that his conclusions are based on bad math. The mathematical error here is the attempted a=b=c conclusion that the author tries to make. What is the a=b that the author is postulating? He is stating that his sampling of 20 people is akin to an unbiased scientific poll, and that based on this highly unscientific and less than random sampling, he can make a reasonable conclusion about all 200,000,000 American households.

    Let’s discect this argument. The author places the statistic that he has found on what he perceives to be an engine for scientific study, Twitter. Apparently, he forgoes the need for at least a controlled randomness in his sampling, which is a requirement for reasonable accuracy. While Twitter does contain millions of users and can reasonably be used to conduct somewhat scientific research that can give insight to America as a whole, it’s obvious that the author’s research falls far short of the mark.

    First, the author indicates that he knows that the “naysayers” have incomes above $182,000. He can only know this if he has intimate knowledge of the particpants. The second reason to disavow the value of his conclusions is that his access to Twitter would only be limited to people that he has connected to which indicates that there is likely not much variety in the sampling. Furthermore, he admits that all of his colleagues over 30 have more than the average American household’s networth. The combination of these things alone represent statistical bias in the research thereby rendering the conclusions totally invalid. The author gives no indication that he employed Twitter’s help in reaching its total community. Hence, the randomness of the community to which the author submits the link to the article’s statistics FAILS to meet the mathematical requirement of being EQUAL to a properly conducted scientific study. Thus, ‘a’ is not equal to ‘b’ and therefore, his conclusion, ‘c’ cannot be understood to fall within the tolerances of statistical reliability.

    Like I said earlier, this is just bad mathematics! The only thing that we know is that the author lives among a priviledged group in which everyone 30 years old and older has exceptional net worth. This is hardly a person well rounded enough to give anything less than an elitest interpretation of a very simplistic statistical calculation. My conclusion, this article is not to be taken seriously!

    1. Thanks for your comment. This post is meant to be a little facetious, as I couldn’t believe the number either.

      Check out these three posts:

      1) The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person
      2) Financial Samurai Reader Demographic – With 80+ surveys and thousands and thousands of entries. I think you’ll realize a lot more people are a lot wealthier than we all think.
      3) The Median Net Worth Of US Households Over Time Has Gone Nowhere – A good look at the data over time.

  7. Hmmm if you’re here to learn about the financial situation of most Americans you should be wary of what this guy is saying.

    I’m pretty sure he’s right about average net worth, but when he argues that that figure isn’t skewed significantly by the wealthiest class of Americans because there aren’t many Bill Gates types, he’s being crazy. There millions of millionaires in America that skew the average, and many many more millions of Americans with significantly lower net worths who’s impact on the figure is outweighed.

    If you want to get a sense of what a typical American’s net worth is based on average, you should check out the average net worths of people in the 99% (or whatever percent) of people. Like what is the average net worth of the person who is wealthier than 80% of all americans and everyone below him? Probably wayyyy lower than that figure this dude gives. If you saw it on a graph probably at some point the graph would spike hugely, probably when you hit the 90th percentile-ish.

    Anyway this guy isn’t wrong, just pretty misleading.

    1. Instead of blaming Bill Gates and other billionaires for skewing the numbers out of your favor, why not just save more, invest more, make more to accelerate your own net worth? Why be average? The moment we stop making excuses is the moment we soar. Everybody knows about median and averages, and how they are different.

      Read: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person

      Now, share with us your age and net worth so we know where you are coming from. thx

  8. Julio Altamiranda

    To jump from 182 to 301 in 4 years… how does that happen?

    Stock market gains.

    Look up S&P500 gains from 2010-2014. I know my net-worth doubled. The few measly bucks I have invested did very well in the past few years.

    Now look up how many Americans own brokerage accounts and have money invested in retirement accounts. Unless you live in a hole, or in another country, you must not see the same America we all see.

    There are plenty of Americans with 0 dollars. More with negative net worth because of student loans and credit card debt. I think it is safe to say, that because you truly believe the average American has that much money you either know very few people or you do not understand averages and medians.

    Crazy. Financial Samurai… please

  9. Sadly, analysis based on average wealth is painfully divested from reality.

    While it is true that 10 people worth $50 billion dollars would hardly tip the scales of average net worth of several hundred million people (although for ten people to tip the scales by several thousand dollars per American is still rather impressive), the fact remains that the upper 1/5 of the U.S. owns ~6/7ths of the wealth. That means that the average for the remaining 1/5 is about 1/7th of the wealth between them. If the average American is worth $300,000 and there are 300,000,000 Americans, that means there are 90 trillion dollars of wealth. 1/7 of that is about 12 trillion (generously), and if you split that between the 240,000,000 people left over, the total average net wealth of that 80% is ~$48,750. Considering that half of that 80% of the populace (the ‘middle’ 40%) possesses 99% of that net wealth, that leaves an average net wealth of the bottom *forty percent* of the American populace of around $500. Granted, there are probably plenty of folks in that group who live plenty well but are underwater in debt, but that doesn’t change the fact that snappy one-liners like NOBODY BELIEVES IN REALITY don’t really apply, since for the staggering majority, the figures pictured above aren’t reality.

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