The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple

One of the most popular posts on Financial Samurai is The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person. But what about the average net worth for the above average married couple?

Life is so much easier once you have a highly compatible partner. When it comes to building wealth, above average married couples should be able to build wealth much quicker than a single person. Many big expenses such as living and food expenses are shared.

Before we calculate the average net worth for the above average married couple, let's first define what above average means. You also don't have to be married. You can simply be in a long-term, committed relationship with similar financial goals.

The Above Average Person Defined

The “above average person” is loosely defined as someone who was a B+ or better student in high school, graduated from college (~36% of the American population), works hard, and plays well with others.

The above average person also takes full advantage of their pre-tax retirement plans, saves additional disposable income, stays on top of their finances by utilizing free financial tools, expects nothing from their parents or the government and is not delusional.

If you were a “C student” and expect to live an “A lifestyle,” you're definitely not the above average person! You're the type of person who wants to go straight to the corner office without putting in his or her dues.

Depending on the source, the average net worth in America is somewhere between $150,000 – $250,000. But the median net worth in America is closer to $90,000.

Take a moment to study the above average person's net worth chart again. Somewhere between the ages of 45-50, the above average person's net worth reaches over one million dollars.

We can all agree that thanks to inflation, easy monetary policy, a roaring bull market and a recovery in real estate, becoming a millionaire by the time we retire is fast becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

The Average Net Worth Of The Above Average Person Chart

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

It's important to note the figures in my chart are for individuals and not for couples. For those of you who combined your household net worth to see where you stand, so sorry. That's cheating. At the same time, not everybody can find someone they love, hence why I initially created a per person chart.

It would be presumptuous to assume we can all live in marital bliss. Further, not everybody is even allowed to get married thanks to the government telling us who we can and cannot be with. For simplicity's sake, I will refer to “married couples” as anybody who is in a long term relationship.

This article comes up with reasonable “above average couple net worth” charts based on what I think, what the government thinks, what you think, and the realities of life.

One can also define “above average” as one standard deviation beyond the midpoint of the normal distribution curve (top 16%). Not every couple can be above average. But every couple can certainly try.

Related: Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple

Everybody knows that married couples who stay together have a financial advantage over single people. A couple can split a two-bedroom apartment instead of paying more living apart. It's much more efficient and cheaper to cook for two. The economies of scale are everywhere for couples.

Here are some attributes of above average married couples.

  • Stays together for the long term.
  • Discusses long term financial goals e.g. retirement age, retirement number, succession planning.
  • Does not keep financial secrets.
  • Knows their monthly budget like the back of their hand.
  • Shares expenses in a fair way.
  • Supports each other's careers and endeavors.
  • Works together as a team to get things done.
  • Seeks to understand the other side of a story during conflicts and always comes to a compromise.
  • Each spouse can financially support themselves if the relationship ends.
  • Only have children if they've run the numbers and know they can afford them.
  • Does not get divorced. Unless you are Bill and Melinda Gates or Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos. In which case, it doesn't matter. Best to live the YOLO Economy post-pandemic to the max with your massive fortunes.
  • Understand the importance of the separation of tasks. The divide and conquer strategy places to each partner's strengths.

Although the numbers are important, I don't want readers to get hung up by the numbers. The cost of living is very different for those living in New York City versus Birmingham, Alabama. Feel free to adjust down or up the numbers according to your cost of living.

My main goal is to get couples talking about their finances. An above average married couple figures out synergistic ways to grow their net worths together.

Related: How To Retire Early As A Couple

Various Net Worth Calculation Methods For Couples

Here are three ways to calculate the average net worths of above-average married couples.

The Equality Method

The equality method basically states that a man and a woman are equal. Given both sexes are equal, it is only logical to conclude that both spouses provide the same financial contributions.

Both couples studied hard in school. Both couples work and save aggressively. One simply has to double the amounts in my above average person net worth chart to get to the Equality Net Worth chart.

Average net worth for above average married couple - Equality

Some of you may argue that men and women are not equal. As a result, you will disagree with how high the figures are in the Equality Net Worth chart.

I'm not sure which century or country you are living in. But males and females are equal here in America. If they are not equal in your country please share in the comments section why. Further, if you truly love your spouse, you will make him or her financially independent as well.

Meanwhile, some of you will argue that the figures are too low because there are tremendous financial synergies in a relationship. Since you can't have synergies before you actually meet, it's better to simply double the above average net worth per person figures to stay conservative.

Discrimination and sexism is wrong. Therefore, I am a strong proponent of the Equality Net Worth method to determine the average net worth for the above average married couple.

Independence is a core part of Americana, except for grown adults who still live with their parents. Over time, it seems like more and more adults are utilizing The Bank Of Mom & Dad to get ahead.

The Government Taxation Method

Despite federal income tax improvement after Trump became president, there is still a marriage penalty tax. Notice how an individual pays a 37% marginal federal income tax bracket after $578,125, but a married couple starts paying a 37% marginal federal income tax above $693,750 for 2023.

In other words, 1+1 does not equal 2. Instead, 1+1 = 1.21. Therefore, it's not a good idea for two high-income earning people earning more than $578,125 each to get married.

The government believes 1+1 = 1.21 because it is sexist. Most people in congress are men. Therefore, they just assume that one spouse, mainly the woman, stays at home to raise children.

2023 federal income tax brackets for singles, married

Of course there are tremendous benefits of having a stay at home spouse take care of the kids. Your children get more love from the person you trust the most, you save on daycare costs, and more. But for goodness sake, let the American people decide whether one spouse should stay at home or not.

A combined income of $693,750 provides only a 2% greater threshold until the top 37% tax rate kicks in. Therefore, we're going to essentially only increase the combined net worth by a marginal amount as well using the government's logic.

Average Net Worth For Couples - Government Tax Method Financial Samurai

If you love the government, are very traditional, and believe one spouse should probably stay at home, then you are a proponent of the Government Taxation Net Worth method.

President Biden is likely going to raise taxes on households making $400,000 a year. President Biden also wants to increase the capital gains tax rate and eliminate the stepped-up basis. All the more reasons for one spouse to stay at home and raise the kids.

The Financial Samurai Method

By now I'm sure I've upset many couples with my various conjectures. The Equality method and the Government Taxation method are logical ways to figure out the net worth for above average married couples. What you are really upset about is the revelation of your own beliefs.

The Financial Samurai Net Worth method provides a recognition there are financial synergies for being a couple. At the same time, the Financial Samurai method denounces government policies to its core for its sexist and discriminatory ways.

Besides the ludicrous 20% increased allowance for married couples, the government only provides child tax credits, student interest deductions, and IRA contributions to those who make below a certain amount.

The government should treat everyone equally and not pick and choose who gets to thrive and who gets to suffer.

I am a strong believer that each spouse should save and invest as an independent man or woman. Breakups happen all the time so it is imperative we count on nobody, not even the present love of our lives for financial survival.

At the same time, there is no need to have double the property size presumably because a couple is sharing a room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, a dining room, a garage, and a backyard.

Let's have a look at the chart that shows 1 + 1 = 1.7.

Average Net Worth For Above Average Married Couple - Financial Samurai

Assumptions For The Above Average Married Couple

  • The average pre-tax savings (401k/IRA) and post-tax savings amounts double every year until age 40 and then only increase by 25% every five years after.
  • After age 40, the savings rates increase by only 25% a year to account for early retirement of one spouse, if not both spouses.
  • The average property equity increases by 25-50% every five years instead of 100% given you don't need double the space to live together.
  • The cost of kids is accounted for by the decrease in the increase of pre-tax savings, post-tax savings, and property equity increases.
  • The above average married couple are millionaires by the time they reach 40 years old. They develop the optionality for one spouse to retire or find a different career.

The Average Net Worth Of Couples Is Higher Than Singles

The above average couple is based upon my assumptions for the above average person. It is not based on the average American who wakes up 10 years later hating his or her job because he or she forgot to save and invest all this time. The average American cannot come up with $1,000 to pay for an emergency. This is not the example you want to follow.

If you haven't reached my suggested net worth figures yet, don't worry. Get motivated! Just the fact that you are reading this article means you are serious about supercharging your finances for a better life. Now you will have some clear financial goals as a couple. Give your savings and investments some time to compound.

Not only do couples have roughly a 70% higher combined net worth than single folks, life is also more enjoyable when spent with someone you love. Further, marriage penalty tax has largely been abolished. There won't be a marriage penalty tax if your household income is under $500,000. Whereas in the past, the threshold was much lower.

As we've all discovered during the global pandemic, having someone you care about to share time with is extremely important. Not only are above average married couples wealthier, they are likely healthier as well. Here is my recommended net worth targets by age as a guide.

If you haven't found someone you want to be with or more, I suggest spending more time on relationships. Money is only a means to an end. Life is not worth living if you don't have someone you love to spend it with!

Recommendation For Couples

If you are an above average married couple, you are diligently tracking your finances. If you are not yet, then sign up with Empower. It is a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where to optimize.

Their 401K Fee Analyzer tool is saving me over $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying. They've also got an amazing Retirement Planning Calculator. It uses real data and Monte Carlo simulations to produce realistic retirement results. It's the best planner out there.

Open financial communication is common practice for an above average married couple. Utilize a free financial tool to reduce stress and grow your wealth.

Retirement Planner Empower
Is your retirement on track? Sign up to find out

Above Average Married Couples Invest In Real Estate

Every above average married couple I know owns their primary residence and then invests in real estate as well as stocks.

Real estate is my favorite way to achieving financial freedom. It is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. By the time I was 30, I had bought two properties in San Francisco and one property in Lake Tahoe. These properties now generate a significant amount of mostly passive income.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms.

With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up. Further, the pandemic has made working from home more common.

Best Private Real Estate Investing Platforms

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 400,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.


I've personally invested $810,000 in private real estate to diversify my investments and earn more passive income. Since 2017, I've received over $624,000 in distributions and passive income to help support my family. Both platforms are free to sign up and explore.

The Average Net Worth For Married couples is a Financial Samurai original post.

Join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. 

About The Author

339 thoughts on “The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple”

  1. I’m afraid you are mistaken about the non-existence of the marriage penalty for those under $500k income. By getting married, my partner and I would give up three tax benefits: (1) I would give up head of household filing status, (2) we would be jointly (instead of individually) limited by the $10,000 cap on deductions for state & local taxes, and (3) we would be jointly (instead of individually) limited by the cap on mortgage tax deductions. Our MFJ federal tax bill would be almost $6,000 more than the combined total of our tax bills as HoH and Single filers. Our MFJ state tax bill would also be higher, but we haven’t quantified the difference–because $6000 per year was quite enough to put us off of the idea of marriage for now. Our combined gross income is about $340k–well below the $500k limit you suggested.

  2. Whirlyball23

    Hey Sam,

    Love your content and podcasts. Are my wife and I killing it with a $690,000 net worth at age 31.5 in a LCOL area? I don’t really see you factor the living area in these numbers unless I missed it! Id say that’s at least a 1.2 million networth in California!

  3. Hello, Thanks for the wonderful article. I come back and refer to it past 5 years. Even though the money saved for college funds of kids should not be part of net worth of a couple. shouldn’t some weightage be given for the money saved for it? what I mean in the minimum shouldn’t it be a category in the tabular column. It was after all saved by the couple penny by penny.
    pls advice.

  4. Love the write up and benchmarks to give people goals. What is comprised of “post tax savings”? Only Roth accounts?

  5. Uncle Louie

    Scary how dead-on your numbers are! Including your 1.7 calculation! My wife and I made roughly the same salary throughout our careers, me peaking at $125K and she at $135K now. We’re 63, both have Masters. I lost my job in a corporate takeover in my mid-50s. Blindsided. Pivoted to a little 1099 part-time and taking care of my dad. I also traded doing all the chores for not having to go back to the corporate world. Take great vacations every year (even in 2020) and drive nice Acuras into their 200s (although starting to lease now).

    How did we do it starting with nothing? Just like you say in your definition… max out 401Ks, Roth IRAs, 529s & Coverdale IRAs… learn to invest… live modestly, including your house… and let’s be real… have faith in a (tech leaning) bull market, which I still do for several years. And don’t follow the freak-out go-to-60% bonds/cash 40% stocks advice near retirement. Just put aside cash to survive a crash of 5 years ($600-$700K) and leave all the rest in stocks. You’ll weather the downturn fine and make the great gains right after the bottom to give to your kids and grandchildren down the road.

    Finally, thanks for this site! I’ve been visiting it through the years for confirmation. You rock, dude!!

  6. Thank you for your posts. I have been reading them for the past several years. Your website has been an inspiration for me to save aggressively and get my finances together in one place. I use Personal capital free tools to monitor our finances and it has been working great this far.

    Based on your table (Financial Samurai method) for Net worth of Above Average Couple, do you think these numbers for both Pretax and Post tax need to be updated to higher values (given the incredible bull market run) in the stock market.

    We are tracking very close to our age range based on your estimates, but wonder if part of it is due to recent bull market trends? I am always wondering how we are doing compared to other Financial Samurai readers. Do you have data from informal surveys as to what percentage of your readers fall within the ranges that you have in your table?

    Thanks again for your incredible work with the blog.

  7. 45. Just this week cracked 1.5m as a couple. Fairly balanced though wish we had more after tax savings.

    My wife stayed home with as kids from her teacher job for 8 years until our youngest went. This was a choice I wouldnt redo given the chance. Sadly cause of this she basically doesnt have much saved from her side of net worth.

    My older son leaves for college in 2 weeks. Hes been asking recently about his finances and Im proud that he worked hard during high school to achieve the scholarships that will basically pay for his BA.

    Looking forward to retiring and starting a side hustle that allows more freetime.

    Thanks for the goals you proved Sam.

  8. Sam, you article is very complicated
    I am from Toronto, Canada, only one thing clicked with me

    I remember my family doctor once I asked him why he works 3 days a week
    it is very hard to book an appointment with him
    He told me that if he works extra days , he will pay more taxes so it is not worth it at all

    This is very hilarious

  9. “I’m not sure which century or country you are living in, but males and females are equal here in America at least.”

    Surely this is said tongue-in-cheek and coupled with an eye-roll

      1. Since we are talking about net-worth, earnings power is obviously closely tied to this. If you look at any of the hundreds of reports regarding gender-pay-gap and board/ c-suite composition (where, arguably, a lot of wealth is concentrated), I think it’s quite clear that men and women are not equal in America. (I can’t include any links, but payscale, pew research, cnbc, etc. all have reports and # on this).

        If you’re saying that aspirationally, US intends for men and women to have the same opportunities, I would more likely agree with that. But reality is different from aspirations.

        1. I agree, I worked as a Full Professor at Penn State University for 23 years retiring in 2018. Until the last 3 years there I was paid 15% less than male colleagues who arrived 3 years after me. Every year I asked for more equality and was ignored. Finally, a Chair came in who wanted to bring women equally into the payroll fold. It took PSU three years to bring my pay up to the male equivalent. By then I was turning 60 and ready to retire. Even though, at this time it was recognized that there had been a long timely equity gap, there was no back pay to equalize what had been denied. This still goes on in many places. It is still a very white male world out there.

          1. Working for 23 years as a full professor at an r1, full professor in 1995. Starting salaries go up. So, the male colleagues likely started at a higher salary. Also, all full professors are not equal. Grant funding plays a role. Demand for the professor’s work plays a role. There’s not enough info here to judge gender disparity. A white male world, indeed. Very sexist and racist of you. More women graduate from college today than men.

            Relative to board/c-suite situations, that’s rarefied air that is functionally irrelevant for all but the most upper crust of society.

    1. the reason that women are not “equal” comes from them not working as many hours and doing jobs that pay less because they can not or will not do ones that pay more.

      1. Ha! This is a joke… wake up. I was fortunate enough at one point in my career to have a male manager stand up for me. He told me I brought in more money for the Firm than all the rest of my male colleagues and made the least money of all of them. Over 2 years, he gave me massive raises to bring me up to their pay. I got LUCKY that he wanted to fight for me. I am an engineer with an MBA from a top university. Meanwhile, I’ve also been hustling to take care of my family. Women typically work HARDER for the same pay… at work and at home.

  10. James Borst

    It is interesting that the average net worth in America is between $150,000 – $250,000. My wife and I just had a baby girl and we started looking at home listings. I imagine once we pay off the home, it will add to our net worth.

  11. 43 married and ahead of your 45 number. Where I differ from the chart is with over 7 figures invested primarily in stocks pretax I dumped a lot of my post tax into my home given didn’t want so much in stocks. My home equity is much higher but not with 900k house paid off struggling where to go next with post tax cash given bonds and savings paying hardly anything. Anyway I would think more people would have higher equity than post tax savings

  12. FWIW, most of the above average people I know attend graduate or professional school and, consequently, don’t start full-time careers at age 22.

    1. This really is not a representation of what is going on in the United States. Is this geared towards professionals?

  13. As always, great article and analysis. Marrying the right person who shares your goals is the one of the best things that can happen to anyone.

    While I understand your frustration with the government’s policy of 1×1=1.21, spare a moment for the countries where 1×1=1.

    Here in the U.K. you’re actually penalised for having one spouse making £250k vs two spouses making £125k each.

  14. My wife initially hated talking about finances. She’s come a long way and I’m proud of her. She moved from hated to “mildly interested”. But she is cautious of the income and expenses and how they relate to our long-term goals.

  15. My wife and I are lucky as this bull market coincided with our highest earnings so far. This has put us in a place were we can really make some hay. In our 20s we were single and below your chart. Now in our 40s, we are right on track although our home has a bit more equity than your chart and we have a bit less in non-retirement investments. Still, it averages out. Also, part of that is my doing in that I convinced my wife that we should make a big payment to our mortgage to enable us to pay off in 9 years. We will end up with 15 years on our 30 year mortgage, and this is in line with our retirement date; as long as the market abides.

    For me, though the biggest help was tools like Mint, when I earned and was worth less to help me restore my habits of youth of saving money. As we earned more, then I found Personal Capitol, and that has helped us a ton in balancing our risk and investments across our various accounts.

  16. Hey Sam,

    The targets are certainly aggressive, but that’s the whole point; being above average means challenging oneself on levels that Joe Six-Pack wouldn’t even dream.

    It’s great to have some benchmarks to consider when looking at my own portfolio and lifestyle.

    Take care,

  17. Wife and I have 1.9 million excluding home. We rent and wife works inconsistently as we move frequently, but when she does work she does a Max out of 401k and saves the rest. I save 50 to 75 % alone. Within two years looking to buy in Michigan when I retire from the military. Really is rather rediculous how much we saved. Have a 6 year old so now plowing money into college fund as well as house fund. Rather pay cash for a house versus mortgage… inexpensive house and we figure a single story at 1500 to 2000 sq feet is enough. Lived in worse.

  18. Couples that work as a team and prioritize their finances have much healthier bank accounts and family lives. The beauty of two incomes is that it makes it easier to funnel more money into investments and take advantage of compound interest.

  19. “The average American who cannot come up with a $1,000 emergency is not the example you want to follow.”

    I would prefer people don’t come up with $1,000 emergencies. Having $1,000 to pay for an emergency…now we’re talking!

    But seriously, I have always liked this post and I like seeing it updated. My wife and I still strive to be above average using the Financial Samurai method. Always good to have goals.

      1. I love this article as it confirms my long held philosophy that achieving financial success simply requires “responsible” behavior. You don’t have to start up a software company or become some slick Wall Street trader. Average salaries/ a good work ethic/ common sense approach to budget + savings and time will get you to a good place. It also helps to educate yourself about personal finance and investing which can be done for zero cost at the public library. That’s how I did as just a regular working class stiff. Started with nothing/ knew nothing/ did the hard way but wouldn’t change anything about the journey!

  20. Sam,

    What would your analysis look like for someone who bought a house at 23 instead of aggressively saving? At 23 and before I started ready financial samurai, I had enough saved to put 20% down on a starter home. So instead of paying rent for the last 7 years I have been building equity… I obviously wish I could save more, but sometimes the dryer goes or the roof need to be replaced… I don’t regret buying a house that young, I have learned a lot! I am just worried I hurt my future financial freedom because I could have invested that money instead.


  21. Hello, Thank you for your article, both my hubby and myself are in mid 30s and we have net worth of about$650k without including our primary home. The problem we have while comparing your chart is ,just between the 529s/401k vs taxable accounts, most of our money is in pre tax accounts(about 81%) and we are way lagging behind in taxable accounts. your blog has been eye opener for me in figuring out that i might not get my pre tax amount when i need it if the retirement age is moved up.I am really not sure if i can meet your target for post tax acccounts but my focus will be on it for near term . any advice would be appreciated.

  22. Great post. I had seen the individual charts but had missed this one along the way. Two questions:

    -If the pre-tax savings are invested in a fairly standard portfolio, would they not grow faster than seen on your chart? So $1.3M at age 50 could reasonably grow to $2.6M at age 60, when the earliest withdrawals could occur?

    -Does the property equity figure cover only home equity, or other properties as well? Most folks in fly-over country (even above-average!) never live in a home valued at $600K.

    Thanks for keeping this blog going!

    1. Yes, anything can happen with your portfolio. The key is to keep on aggressively contributing in a risk-appropriate way. It’s the contributions that matter the most the first 20 years.

      Yes, property equity accounts for all real estate equity. You can adjust the figures down if you live in a much lower cost area of the country.

  23. Fred Atwater

    Sam, very interesting chart. My wife and I are 50 and are just a bit north of $2.1M in net worth. And the breakdown on your chart is remarkably similar to our own portfolio.

    And here’s the kicker… I am retired from the USAF after 24 years, have an O-5 pension from the DFAS, a Veteran’s disability income, and free medical (due to the disability rating). Houses are paid for (personal residence + 3 rentals). Kids’ colleges all paid for.

    And we live a generally low key lifestyle. Pay cash for everything, and really just enjoy ourselves while we are still young-ish. Our IRA’s will kick in in the next 9 years, followed by a “raise” from Social Security when the time is right.

    Really enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work! R, Fred. Henderson, NV.

      1. Frederick Atwater

        Yessir. I have seen the safe-rate of return technique used in other genres, too. If you follow a Discounted Cash Flow model out to expected average life expectancy for the value of the pension, you come up with a figure that is within less than a % different than the safe-rate of return technique.

        I wasn’t including my pension in the above discussion, but if you added the value of it into the portfolio, we would be off the chart (over double) way on the high side.


  24. Michael Flieder

    That photo reminds me of the Japanese folktale, “Momotaro the Peach Boy”. A boy was born from a peach to a Farmer and his wife who couldn’t have kids. In real life, the peach may have looked like that – with his twin.

  25. We aren’t quite at your numbers, but in the right ballpark. And that’s with my wife not starting work until 31 (PH.D.) She saves like a fiend and we’ve both been maxing out 401ks, ESPPs, and have some rental real estate. I just don’t know a whole lot of other folks doing this (we have friends with expensive cars, beautiful houses, and small net worths).

  26. “Some of you argue that men and women are not equal and will therefore disagree with how high the figures are in the Equality Net Worth chart. I’m not sure which century or country you are living in, but males and females are equal here in America at least.”

    Males and Females are rightfully accepted as equals here in America if you talk to just about anyone. But many would also say that they are not treated as equals, especially when it comes to the gender pay gap.

    1. I forgot I was replying to a post that was quite old. A response is not expected. Love your blog. -Travis

  27. A couple questions about pre-tax vs post tax:
    1. The only post-tax investment is cash. All others are taxable and thus pre-tax, right?
    2. If this is true, then pre-tax investments are all non cash investments lumped together, right? Brokerage accounts + retirement accounts. Right?

    1. Post-tax is any savings on which tax has been paid, you might have then used it to buy stocks/bonds /real estate or gold. The increase in value from that point of time is pre-tax but the principal is post tax. Therefore brokerage account principal is post-tax but gains is pre-tax. So not only cash !

  28. you are right on about sharing housing… i keep thinking i could be paying half this if I were married. The benefits of marriage stop there for me though…loved the partially hilarious/ partially horendous post on attracting a rich man…where were you in my 20s?!

  29. Hi Financial Samurai – thanks, one of your always interesting topics! One question and one suggestion, if I may. Do these figures above include stock options/equity grants etc? As you know these can make a difference. Not sure what those amounts would be for above average couples though.

    Would you consider an article on how income increases over a 45 year career for this typical above average couple? That would be an interesting compliment to this analysis

      1. Is this not too low then – if these are really above average professionals, we’re talking about potentially C level or 1 – 2 levels below (Function/Business Heads, VPs/SVPs/MDs). Would not the stock options alone be worth several millions? Is there any data available on what stock options are worth typically for senior management? Thanks

        1. “if these are really above average professionals, we’re talking about potentially C level or 1 – 2 levels below ”

          You don’t have to be C level to hit these numbers. I’m 33 and 6 steps down from the C level (was 7 steps down last year, and 8 steps down 3 years ago). I haven’t received any options and I don’t expect I ever will. My wife’s in the same boat, 1 step ahead of me. We fall pretty squarely in the above average starting description and are tracking to the table nicely.

          If you have several million in options, you’re not in the above average pool, you’re in the extraordinary bucket. This page wasn’t made for those people.

  30. If you are truly a numbers person you would read the statistics on the wage gap and see that men and women are NOT equal in America. That was a very ignorant comment. Being a female in the financial industry I have seen it all. I work my butt off but as a 5′ 6″ 115 lb female when I stand next to a man do you know how hard it is for people to just see me as a “strong leader” compared to the big burly guy next to me. I had no problem getting a job as a staff accountant but why is it that in a female dominated industry all managers are still men? It’s harder to fight those underlying stereotypes we don’t even see we make. I have to fight twice as hard to be seen as a STRONG LEADER and get promoted to that higher pay. Educate yourself a little on the subject and actually read up on it with an open mind.

    1. You sound like a “victim.” Good luck with that attitude.
      There are plenty of folks who agree with you though.

      I hope you spend time with your pink hat on marching around your town. Because that helps your cause.

      1. Mr. Kevin A Singel

        And you sound like a jerk or worse. I bet you aren’t this rude in real life. Try treating folks with respect here. I hope Sam deletes and blocks you.

  31. InvestmentGuru

    Hi Sam:

    I really enjoy your articles. Our situation is somewhat unique, and does not fit your scenarios. I am 64, wife (was a stay at home mom) is 65. We have a net worth of roughly $2.5 million. However, your calculations fail to take into account those of us who are blessed with government pensions which should be monetize to accurately reflect an above average couple.

    In our case, I retired at age 55. My current pension is $125,000/year (with a 2% annual COLA); and if you add in that the State of California pays 100% of our health care premiums, that pension is closer to $140,000. We are both guaranteed that pension and health benefits until we die. I plan on taking Social Security at 66, because that will be full retirement age for me, and my wife will receive 50% of my benefit when I claim it (the max she can get). That will yield us another $50,000 plus a year in income. We currently earn additional income of about $50,000 from conservative investments and real estate rent. At age 70 (if I’m fortunate to live that long), I will be required to take my RMD from my IRA which should be another $50,000 per year. If you monetize the pension, assuming a 4% return, the value of the pension is $3.5 million ($140,000/.04) added to our net worth of $2.5 million, it puts us squarely within your above average category for our age.

    So the scenarios you present are reasonable for those who do NOT have a very healthy government pension. Bottom line is that you might want to include some caveats regarding how much one needs to save in order to feel financially secure in retirement absent a guaranteed pension. Aside from that, I agree, we would have needed around $6 million (Equality Method) in net worth for me to retire at 55.

      1. That California Pension is REDICULOUS and one of the reasons I think so seriously about moving out of this nutty state. My way over the top taxes are paying that crazy pension and others like it (and more taxes coming… they create a new tax a week around here). Good for you. Bad for the rest of the population (and that is simply unsustainable for this state and its cities to continue).

        1. Completely agree! I’m 63 and still working hard to pay the 13.3% marginal state taxes California demands so it can pay people 6 figure pensions plus health care for life and retire at 55. I already bought my house in Nevada and will be moving there next year. California’s pension liability will be exposed in the next recession.

    1. That is a sick pension. Glad I don’t live in California and pay the taxes to pay you. I’d feel guilty take that much money from my fellow residents. Crazy system.

  32. I love this article. I read it so many times! We are almost in out 40s and we are pretty much bang on, compared to the table in The Financial Samurai Method. We have always been frugal, but sometimes I wish I found out about financial independence much earlier in life. I wonder if it would have made a big difference! I only discovered index tracking and the concept of FI in the past couple of years.
    I suppose it’s pointless to dwell on the past, and I am just really thankful for all the help I’m getting from website like yours! Thank you Financial Samurai :)

    1. This article depresses me. We live in a depressed area since the steal mills closed so early on even healthcare workers like myself were laid off and since UPMC pretty much took over the area it kept wages down. We had good reason we were not able to leave the area. Fortunately DH had a job that was through gov’t contract and we did fine. Later in my 50’s I started a small business that took off and I saved and invested. Now our net worth is $1.6 mill including the house.

      Since the cost of living was lower but by the same token so was the pay rates is this taken into consideration for your numbers?

      Now finally in the position to move it makes me afraid to because of COL in other areas. I hope I’m not stuck here till I die.

      DH has a pension, we’ll both get SS, both have a 401k and post tax savings. Compared to others in our area we did well but I hate the weather.

  33. meh

    am 62, have been retired for 20 years, live debt-free w/400K net worth, no mortgage… the biggest decision every day is ‘steak, shrimp, or lobster?’

    life is good – these numbers and money do not matter one whit – we both exercise – i swim 1500m every morning, and we live minutes from the best beaches in America

    no money worries, good health, great food, good health… who gives a romeo alpha about money?

    1. RetiredAt53

      Great attitude Willie!
      Wondering if ya have a pension and medical to help ya?
      400k doesn’t go very far when ya have to pay for health care.

      1. thanks, and yes, a pittance of a pension and regular checkups keep us on budget and head off any problems – best decision i ever made (financial or otherwise) was serving our country doing search-and-rescue, oil and chemical spill remediation, etc. (you can guess the branch of service) – along the way, frugal living, along with dollar-cost averaging, asset allocation, and diversification allowed us to retire early – Vanguard has been very good over the years, despite the Dot Bomb, 2002, and the recession (where we actually came out better with a modest but bargain retirement home purchase)… it’s not easy building additional ‘legs’ on a retirement platform, but now that we’re here, cash, real estate, investments and insurance products, along with a small pension all help to avoid any real dependence on social security (we won’t even need it at full retirement age) – however, like nearly everybody, we’re headed for Medicare in several years, albeit with a nice supplemental and pharmacy benefits – but our main concern is staying fit, active, and healthy!

        1. Willie,
          Be thankful for that “pittance”, remember to generate $100 a month with a 4% safe withdrawal takes $30,000 of investments. I’m 55 and a bronze plan medical for the wife and I would be about $1500 a month. If some or all of this well deserved medical benefit is covered for ya through your service to our country that is huge money you would not need to generate making your 400K networth last much longer!

          Congrats on winning the game on your terms!


  34. Must have missed this in commentaries. Given we have a significant amount of net worth in property equity (about double pretax/post tax savings). Given how illiquid home equity is for us, I am curious how you feel about “liquid” savings versus home equity. I mean I can buy my groceries with the money from my savings but mentally I would not be willing to get an equity loan on my home to fund my living….

    So even though, our net worth as a couple meets your standards for above average. Any advice on or thoughts on the liquidity issue?

  35. High income does not equate to high net worth.

    Retired at 53, now 55, above these numbers, two kids, wife was stay at home mom. That said, these are some big numbers.

    These income numbers represent one percenters in 2013 approximately $390K household.

    While this is an interesting experiment, more interesting is determining your own numbers. I don’t care what others have or don’t have relative to me. I care if I will have enough to continue my life style and never work for the “man” again!

  36. I am a female aged 46 and I make about $120k a year. My husband is 48 and makes $49k a year. He’s made that for several years as a law enforcement officer, I am a financial officer at a large bank. We have no kids. My husband could go out and make more money but he loves what he does, I wouldn’t want to take that happiness away from him. He will probably do this until aged 60, just because he loves it. I’m not so passionate about my job but I like how I’m compensated so I’m motivated to save, and be able to pursue passions later. Hopefully retire at age 53. (We will be aged 47 and 49 at the end of this year)

    Here is the breakdown of our assets

    Taxable Savings = $3000 (Sadly)
    Credit Card Debt = $7000 (Sadly)
    Retirement accounts = $615000 (Happy, still below average)
    Home Equity (primary and rental) = $500,000.00 (above average)

    Our combined net worth is $1.1 million, I’m happy to have passed the $1mm psychological point!

    We are obviously falling short with the taxable savings but retirement is okay. I plan to kick up my contributions.

    Home Equity is good thanks to getting 15 year mortgages – wow those make a difference, it’s been a forced savings. My goal is to go into retirement with no debt including NO Mortgage debt.

    Don’t believe the myth of the wage gap. I make considerably more than my husband and we both have college degrees. I choose to go into the financial industry and he public service.

  37. Just stumbled upon this site and post and find it both interesting and a bit scary for the average person with average net worth, and also for our country as a whole. I am 61 and retired two years ago at 59. I am married, live in SoCal, and have 3 adult children that we put through private college or out of state public college with no debt. My wife was a stay at home mom and I had a good career at a megacorp retiring at VP level. We have received no outside assistance or inheritance and we have always lived below our means. I did not start my career until I was 29. Reading this article prompted me to go back through the records and review the history of our net worth, at 30 ~ (15,000), at 40 ~150k, at 50 ~ 1.3M, 55 ~ 2.5M, date of retirement at 59 ~3.6M, now at 61 ~4.1M. Our assets are ~25% real estate, 25% investments in pretax accts, and ~50% investments in taxable accounts. Starting with a negative net worth at 30 we were able to grow it to ~4M by age 60, so it can be done. But according to the 2013 tables, we are in the top 10 percentile, but do I feel like we are in the 95th percentile? Not even close. But I do feel very blessed and fortunate that I was able to retire and now live a comfortable life. I believe that anyone can achieve that goal if they want. Focus on growing your income, live below your means, save, invest, manage risk and let compounding do its thing. On the other hand, I do worry about the percentage of the population that has not planned for their future and what impact that will have on those that have. I spend a lot more time now thinking about risk management and diversifying our income streams….

  38. Sam we live in a low COL area which means pay rates around here are also low compared to the rest of the country. The other question is many of us didn’t have help starting out (did it all on our own), and we started our jobs out at the bottom. I’m almost where I should be according to your chart so I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you but I wonder if you are taking all these circumstances into account.

  39. bonjourposte

    I’m 38 and have no savings, but I’m going back to school in September to become an interior designer, and I’m excited to start becoming the above average person. It’s a bit late, I know, but I just recently met the right guy and that helps. When one major piece falls into place, the others tend to follow.

  40. Great post! I believe seeing these net worth levels will either intimidate people or encourage them to try harder. I, thankfully, fall into the “try harder” category. And I hope many others think the same way. It is important to set net worth goals for yourself and ensure you are tracking your progress toward those goals.

    If for some reason or another you have caught on later in life, I believe these insightful tables can be easily adjusted. Move the age dial by five or ten years and assume you will end up with less than $4M at age 65. Or maybe you are not even aiming for $4M. Then adjust your goal by age according to your final monetary goal.

  41. I feel like once you have a couple of children the expenses grow, especially with daycare. Daycare is most definitely the highest cost we have outside of rent. We’ve even looked to see if we could forgo this by having a relative or even going part time at one of our jobs. Great post!


    Very interesting article. I’m a big fan of your site. Like a few of the docs above we started very negative thanks to med school loans and delayed earning. My wife and I have been working since July 2014 and have gone from a negative 726k net worth to negative 40k today.

  43. I would argue the The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person would apply for married couples if one person is out of the workforce to be a stay at home parent. If a couple survives comfortably on a single income, shouldn’t the baseline for their retirement also be based on one person? I can’t envision retiring and suddenly doubling my standard of living. Maybe that’s just me. Could also be that I’m on track for the The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person but less so The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple due to have only one income.

  44. I am 47 and my wife is 33. Net worth is $ 3.8m. She recently became a stay at home mom, so our number will now rise more slowly, but good to know we are ahead of an expert’s view on where we should be right now net worth wise. We were both very nervous about losing her income, but finding out that a good nanny will run 50k per year made the decision easier.

  45. Overall, I agree that women and men are equal but I do have a problem with equality when it comes to finances, men and women are really not equal.

    Why? As we all know women earn less than men, they also take time off to care for children, which of course have a significant impact on their finances and net-worth. As a result; the Equality Method is a little bias in expecting women to have an equal net-worth (unless there are no kids in this instance).

    I totally agree that most government are sexist, beside income, most pension plans also discriminate greatly against women. These archaic laws should be changed to promote real equality for women’s tremendous role in our society.

    1. Don’t believe the myth of the income gap the media would have you believe you are a victim (coming from a 47 year old female) Do some research and you will find it’s more about personal choices, rather than a sexist culture/government. :) Panda

      1. I appreciate you posting this. I was going to post something similar with all the reasons (read choices) women are perceived as being paid less than men but I hesitate to do so because I don’t want to hijack this thread and turn it into a debate over the “wage gap”. There are certainly cases of sexism and in every one of those cases it is wrong. That said, barring those sexist exceptions, there is nothing (in America) stopping women from making as much or more than men except choices made by those women.

    2. Truth Teller

      When I was doing my MBA at a top 10 university, my statistics professor (who was female) completed a thorough analysis to determine whether an income gap exists. Her analysis accounted for jobs and years of experience. Her analysis showed that there was no statistical difference between the incomes of men and women. For example, a female electrical engineer with 5 years of experience earns as much as her male counterpart.

      As Panda correctly said, the difference in pay is mainly due to career choice. Women generally choose career paths (such as teachers) that generally earn less than male dominated areas (such as engineering).

      The income gap is a myth used to support a political agenda.

  46. Hey Sam-

    I am on track with my partner to be at around 2M net worth around 40. My fear though is that at that point, we are going to be burnt out from work, and comfortable to spend on nicer vacations, restaurants, etc because of the savings we have. Although I see a relatively easy path to getting to 2M by 40, getting to 5M by 60 seems much harder, especially if the market doesn’t go so well. Obviously if both of us work FT from 40-60, it will be fine, but after 18 straight years of work, I’m just not sure how realistic that is. I’m just hoping that compounding really does work…

    1. +1
      <<<"My fear though is that at that point, we are going to be burnt out from work, and …… Although I see a relatively easy path to getting to 2M by 40, getting to 5M by 60 seems much harder……"

      Totally agreed! Have a good work/life balance. Take care of and enjoy yourselves. Do the best you can to hit whatever milestone(s) you can reach without killing yourselves.

      1. Paper Tiger

        If you are at 2M and 40 years old, your net worth only has to go up 5% per year to reach a little over 5M by 60. Put another way, if you never invested another dime over the next 20 years and simply averaged 5% per year return on the money you do have, you would be at 5.3M by 60.

        I don’t think it is quite as hard as it seems.

  47. Had a quick question, my situation is that I’m planning start retirement at age 50 and reviewing net worth comparisons to get a better handle on my target. Most calculators indicate that I’m on track to retire in 3 years (when I turn 50) and reviewing the Financial Samurai Method table, my current net worth is just above the 55 age bracket, but I have more in real estate equality with what might be a balance ratio of 50/50 (fixed to liquid). My issue here is that part of that 50, half of that is post-tax and suffering from low CD rates. I started to move all my salary earnings last year to Mutual Funds that pays out Dividends, should I start moving a % of my CDs over as well knowing that retirement is within 3-5 years? Or perhaps look into a 5 year CD (less risk)? Or?

    BTW, love this site for years!

    1. Hi Peter,

      Good question. First of all, nice job being in the 55 age bracket at age 47. That provides a good buffer.

      Do you have a pension? Or do you plan to just start withdrawing retirement savings at 59.5+, and SS in your 60s?

      Your gap isn’t very long.

      I’m VERY risk averse when it comes to my retirement nut. We’re at all time highs in the stock market and real estate market and bond market (disappointingly, hence low rates). As a retiree, it’s NOT wise to allocate more money to risk assets.

      I’d look into a mixture of CDs and your state’s municipal bonds w/ part of that 50, while saving like crazy for the next 3 years.

      See: The Case For Bonds, The Allure Of Zero Coupon Bonds, and Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age

      Just remember that bonds are also close to all time highs, and the Fed is raising rates (hasn’t affected bonds much yet). You’ll just lose less in a correction that w/ stocks. Think PRINCIPAL PROTECTION at age 50+.

      1. Thanks and I’ve been very risk averse as well, in fact too much! I will likely go with the 5 year CDs then.

        Unfortunately no pension but good rental income that can help offset for awhile until I start drawing on retirement funds and SS. That does remind me of another question, I was told that SS would be impacted since I have not worked the full 35 years (at age 50, only contributed 27 years)? So should I delay just to fulfill SS?

        1. Adam and Jane


          We are also VERY RISK AVERSE! We are Extremely financially conservative.

          In addition to Sam’s comments, I would use the bulk of your cash to buy federal and state tax free individual municpal bonds min Yield To Worst 3.5-4% instead of leaving so much cash in the bank if your state/city is in good financial order.

          We no money in the stock market. Our 2 mil portfolio of individual 4-5% muni bonds generates 87K tax free and we have savings at a crappy interest rate to cover 7-8 years of living expenses just in case. Having this much savings is a bit extreme but it makes us warm and fuzzy.

          If you have 1.35 million in cash then I would do the allocation:
          – 1 million of min 3.5 to 4% municipal bonds which will generate 35K-40K tax free. Buy water, mta, well known schools and hospitals.
          – 250K FDIC CD to make you warm and fuzzy
          – 100K in money market for easy access in case you need cash.

          This muni bond interest income will nicely supplement your rental income and will help bridge you until you collect your 401K and SS.

          Remember to buy the muni bond close to PAR ($100 face value) and hold it until it is called or matures so that you wont lose the face value principle if the bond value drops. For example, if you buy 100K of bonds at $102 then it will cost you 102K. When the bond is called or matures then only the face value of 100K is returned to you. That is why it is important to not pay such a high premium above $100 PAR.

          Remember, buy the bond at the price and interest rate you like. Dont worry if the bond value drops. You are buying the cow for its milk!


          1. Thanks Adam! Currently I’ve been lucky to generate about 35k to 40k per year off my liquid assets. The balance is between what is in long-term markets (401k/IRAs) and what is in low risk CDs. I’ll have to look into the bonds as another option, but I’ve been staying away from them because of past performance history.

            Another option is perhaps using part of the CDs and pay off my rental mortgages (last remaining debt that I have), that’s about 5% with a little more than a decade left to pay off or put in 225k (to avoid over 250k at maturity) into a 2.25% CD that matures in 5 years to pay the mortgages off (retired by then) while still gaining tax advantages until then.

            Again looking at risk averse strategy.

            1. Adam and Jane

              I am probably one of the most risk averse readers on this site! I am a fan when CDs were 5%. Since CD rates are so low, I only buy muni bonds since they are tax free and helped us become FI in 2014.

              Get 35K-40K from your liquid assets is very good.

              Our 401Ks at the company are in fixed dollar over 4%. I have nothing in the stock market. Each of our 401Ks generates over $100 of interest everyday.

              For our after tax dollars, I only buy individual municipal bonds and NOT a bond fund so I dont lose any principle since I let my bonds get called or matures. I was stupid when I first started investing. I listened to my first financial advisor (a SALESMAN at a bank) and I got a 100K wealth fund and a 100K of muni bonds fund. In less than 1 year, I lost 9K combined and I cashed out. Now, I pick and buy my own muni bonds via Fidelity instead of using a broker at a bank or at a brokerage firm.

              Definitely, get rid of any mortgages before you retire if you can. Why pay a bank a dollar of interest to get back .33 cents from the government?

              Putting 225K into a CD to pay off your mortage in 5 years is a sure bet! I like that!

              If you get 225K of individual 4% muni bonds now then you will get $9K of bond interest each year. In 5 years, you will earn $45K tax free. The issue is when you sell the 225K bond to get the principle to pay off your morgage then you dont know what is the value of the bonds and you may even lose principle. So the CD is a guarantee option for you. I only buy bonds to hold so I dont lose any principle. This option may be risky for you in case interest rates rises then bonds may drop in value.

              If you have any available cash or after your mortgage is paid off then Look into munis. I think you will be happy with them once the tax free interest starts rolling in.


  48. “Would you say that you are a typical example of your sex?”- Diana
    “I would say I’m above average.” -Steve

  49. Hi Sam,

    We are a little behind now, but are working diligently to play catch up. We are in our mid forties and have saved up a little over $800,000. Living in the Bay Area where the cost of living is quite high we have about $600,000 in home equity. I have a small pension, but my wife does not. As of this year we no longer have to spend $20,000 a year on private school for our two children. We can both afford to max out our 401K plans now. We have been contributing to 529 plans for over 14 years now. Looking at your average net worth chart helps to put things into perspective for us. We tend to live on the frugal side, but tend to spend more money on our kids than required. I am hoping that we can get back on track for retirement. I love reading your insightful articles. Keep them coming!


  50. So where is the above average couple that has two incomes for a few years, then starts having kids and one parent stays home?

    That’s the situation we’re in. Should we more or less just inflate the single person a bit to account for some economies of scale?

    When my wife told me she wanted to stay at home, I needed to support that career choice. So I made it my goal to replace her income through raises and side-gigs. Within the last year, I’ve done that. If you were to look at our charts, it more or less created a plateau for about 5 years, but looks to be breaking out.

  51. Adam and Jane

    Thanks the charts. We always want to see where we stand but net worth is something most people dont discuss. It is nice to see that our NW doubles the amount in your chart for the above average Financial Samurai couple BUT we will always be middle class regardless what our NW is.

    We practice stealth wealth driving around in a 19 year old car.


  52. Here’s another angle to consider, one that Sam himself helped me to comprehend.

    Background: I am a commissioned officer serving on active duty in the United States Army. My single income household grosses roughly $120K per year, but thanks to non-taxable benefits (housing allowance, subsistence, etc.), only 75% of that annual pay is taxable (not bad considering I’ve given a blank check to God & Country). I own a primary residence with deductible mortgage interest, so my wife & I file an itemized “married filing jointly” tax return. As of 2016 we still fell within the 15% marginal tax bracket, albeit approaching the upper limit for this filing status at $75,300.

    For years, my only company sponsored retirement option – the Thrift Savings Plan for government employees – was limited to a Traditional IRA style account. That changed in 2015 when the TSP began to offer a Roth option. looking at my atypical financial situation, the wife & I determined that there was [at that time] no advantage to contributing to a tax-deferred investment option, because realistically, we see ourselves at or below the 15% tax bracket come retirement years (given tax codes hold true until then).

    The TSP has an elective deferral limit of $18,000/yr, an aggregate of traditional, roth, or a combination of both type of accounts. So we decided to terminate contributions to the Traditional TSP, diverting all investment $$$ to both the TSP Roth and our private Roth accts. Yes, the IRS does not see this as “double dipping”. I’m happy to say that through financial discipline, we will be able to max out contributions to both accounts for 2017; $18k to TSP, $11k to individual Roth accts.

    I understand Sam’s perspective & concern about feeding good money after bad (to the govt), but was attracted by the advantages & flexibility of the Roth option. So given my unique circumstances, it just made sense to feed the Roth pig while starving the other. I feel more confident building my [investment] wealth through accounts with [future] taxes only on the gains, not the principle contributed. Yes, I acknowledge the fact that I will have to monitor the MAGI for future tax years to ensure that I don’t roll over into the next marginal tax bracket, but with my relatively predictable income, that isn’t hard to do.

    So I ask the reading community – is my logic sound; or have I missed the boat completely?

    1. Hi Rob,

      If you are convinced you’ll be in the 15% tax bracket come retirement, then you have an argument for NOT contributing to a Roth and paying taxes up front. By not paying taxes up front, you don’t give up your optionality of making more and therefore paying more taxes before you retire.

      But at the end of the day, a Roth IRA is better than not contributing and investing at all. The Roth IRA can be considered a tax diversification strategy.

      See: The Only Reasons To Ever Contribute To A Roth IRA

      1. follow-up question: are gains earned on Roth invested principle taxed as CAPITAL GAINS when withdrawn, or as regular income? If true, then wouldn’t that be advantage-ME in retirement, especially if I find myself creeping up the tax bracket ladder? Since traditional IRAs are tax-deferred, then the distributions are taxed as regular “earned income” at the appropriate levels. Given the option, wouldn’t it make more sense to have only the earnings taxed as Capital Gains? I probably have no idea what I’m talking about, should probably focus more on closing with/destroying the adversary! Thanks, ~RD

        1. In a traditional IRA, any pre-tax contributions and all earnings are taxed at the time of withdrawal. The withdrawals are taxed as regular income, and the tax rate is based on your income in the year of the withdrawal. Although taxes are assessed at the time of withdrawal, there are no additional penalties, provided that the funds are used for a qualified purpose or that the account holder is 59.5 or older. With a traditional IRA, qualified purposes for fund withdrawal include a qualified home purchase, qualified higher education expenses, qualified major medical expenses and certain long-term unemployment expenses.

          As withdrawals from Roth IRA accounts are not taxed, Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible. However, only individuals with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $117,000 or less are eligible to maximize the annual contribution limit. In 2017, the annual contribution limit was $5,500 for any type of IRA account. Only individuals with a MAGI of up to $131,000 are eligible for a partial contribution to a Roth IRA, with the rest of the funds placed in a traditional IRA.

  53. Joe Reynolds

    Great article, Sam!

    It is encouraging to see I am on track and motivation to keep hustling. I am 40/single/ without kids. I didn’t really get focused until about 30yo after a divorce on saving more aggressively and living frugally. Your blog has helped very much in better educating myself. I always found it helpful when others provide numbers/situation so thought I would provide mine.

    My numbers (913k approximate net worth):

    -$434k=TSP account
    -$61k=Vanguard Roth
    -$158k=Vanguard Brokerage
    -2 condos (primary and rental) with equity=$335k according to personal capital but likely closer to $260k (discounting for potential overvalue of Zillow, taxes, and commission if I sold them)

    -Pension=I am in the FERS (federal government system) with 15 years in (started at 25). If I work until 57 my pension before taxes would likely be somewhere in the ballpark of 60k a year before taxes. (32%Xaverage of high 3 year. My salary is 158k now and would likely with COLA adjustments reach at least 180k in the next 15 years.)

    I max my TSP and Roth and try to save about $4,500 per month which I send to my vanguard account as well as pay down my two mortgages.

    Although I feel very much on track, I am afraid marriage and kids could upend all of this so that is one of the reasons I am have been wary about going down that road. This is something very reassuring to me about being the sole captain driving my ship.


  54. So one mitigating factor is _when_ the couple got married (I didn’t get married until I was 35). I was on the higher end as a single person until I married. Wife was doing ok (heck, she at least had 80k or so retirement savings… but 35k of student debt), so I definitely took a step backward.

  55. My husband (40) and I (39) are about where you chart says we should be (net worth subtracting 529 accounts is roughly $1.35M), although the ratios are different. We’re slightly under the 40 year old numbers for retirement (no company match and he’s worked 3 less years due to law school). I vested in a state pension before I retired to stay home with our three children that is supposed to pay $1000 per month in retirement. Our after tax savings are a bit behind as well but our home equity is larger (about $500K) due to buying in 2011 from financially distressed owners in a very desirable neighborhood.

  56. $4100000 net worth for a 65 yr couple puts them in the 96th percentile! Don’t think that’s average or even above average. Obviously only 4% of US households reach this level of wealth so I would categorize this as elite.

  57. Big fan of these posts Sam – I still go back and reference your above average net worth posts as a way of motivating myself. As an American working abroad 95% of my retirement/401k is post tax (local authorities not recognizing US retirement accounts means all of my 401k contributions are after tax into a Roth) – would be interesting to come up with some sort of weighting for the pre tax accounts so that you could see total net worth on an after tax basis.

  58. This is depressing. I thought we were on target (at least according to other sources I read). Have not hit the million yet. My husband was military so with moving and him gone, I was a stay at home mom. We have been paying for college since 2009. (3 kids/3 yrs apart) and that ends 2020 at which time I will be 60. IN fact, we could not even get financial aid since the colleges said we had too much assets (Ha)
    I lost my skills by staying home and pretty much can only get a min. wage job should i get work now. Because we lived on one salary, I am figuring we can go by the single person chart as a couple.(?) A few things going for us is that he will have two pensions upon retirement (about $50K total), medical is cheap since we are retired military. Home Eq is about $450K but not paid off till 70yrs at which time it may be worth $800K. (that was a mistake buying this home ) We do live an expensive area and can always move where it is cheaper. Once college is done, then we will be able to save again.

    So when I look at the retirement schedules online, it looks like we need 1.5 mill to retire (not including home or pension). That can be achieved by 70. How can I know if that is right cause I feel poor looking at your numbers here. :( MY husband has no desire to move up or get another job. Maybe I need to get a few min wage jobs? Also are there any charts or sources you have for people who have pensions? i figure 50K a year for pension (though we can’t live on that unless we move) for 30 yr is worth 1.5mill. Then we would kick in $50k from our savings so that is why I come up that we need 1.5 mill in investments (not home) to retire.

  59. A bit late to the party so we’re behind where I want to be. Thankfully we’re picking up the pace now! I always like to reference these charts you make; even if we aren’t there yet, it’s a good milestone to try to hit for the next age bracket we get to :)

  60. Sam,

    I don’t know how you do it but you were right in the spot for my age and marital status (married). Amazing how the networth came in at exactly what your table shows (give or take 2%)

    Great Post!

  61. Bossman @ shakafi

    Hey Sam, we’re a decent clip behind the FS chart in our liquid investments, but our property equity is about double, due to being in the Seattle market for over 10 years. This puts total NW within 15%. That allocation isn’t ideal, and in a perfect world, I’d probably flip that around as our home equity isn’t all that valuable unless we leverage it in some way, which we are not currently doing. Would love to see a post on your potential ideas to do that btw. ;)

    What’s interesting for me looking at the FS numbers is that our path has definitely not been a linear journey by any means. We are mid 40s and got a later start than most because we ski bummed for a few years after college and I didn’t enter a solid career path until my early 30s.

    At 30 and 35 we were nowhere near being on track with these numbers, but due to being a top 3% income earner now, we are on target for a high savings rate despite a single income and 3 kids. This will allow us to hopefully make up the gap by age 50 at which point we’d be close to financial independence.

    Thanks for the great post!

  62. Sam – I think it’s great that you are showing everyone what could be possible to all of us given enough hard work, luck, and research. As you said, it’s the above average married couple so by definition most people aren’t going to match up to it to the numbers listed.

    I was always too relaxed when it came to finances until I got married and realized I was going to have to support a family one day and it’s posts like these that got me to where I am today (early 30s with a ~1.7 net worth). It’s the same reason you ran by the waterfront looking at the multi-million dollar properties – motivation to figure out how to get there.

    With a high savings rate, hard work either in your career or side jobs, research into cash flowing assets (free on this site people!!!), and diversifying your portfolio, there’s no reason you can’t match up with the chart. Thanks for all the hard work giving us all this great research Sam, I for one am very appreciative.

    1. Right on Simon! Some folks say the surest way to poverty is to have a child.

      You and I say the surest way to wealth is to have a child so we get serious in getting our financial lives together!

      Motivation is so key, as is the fear of failure.

      Congrats on securing your finances for your family!

      1. If I had a family earlier, I am almost sure my net worth would be several X what it is now (8 figures). I blew so much damn money dating and goofing off, all that would have grown many X by now (late 40s with family). But it was fun while it lasted :-)

        Not sure it was $100 million of fun though.

  63. I’m above the Government method, but below the FS method; a happy medium, lol. Thanks for the analysis though. I wish I looked into these insights when I first started working, but it’s never too late to start…..or find ways to accelerate income and savings. The hardest part about this I’d like to add is having a spouse with a similar mindset. If you’re both on the same page and see the value in planning, that creates the ultimate momentum.

  64. Adriana @MoneyJourney

    Well, we’re nowhere close to those numbers, but we don’t make it a habit to compare our financial situation with someone else’s. Plus, my boyfriend is 6 years older than me, so we don’t really fit into either of the categories :D

    Kidding aside, I do agree that couples should work together to reach financial goals. And whether or not a couple’s net worth is high or low, the important thing is to start being aware of how money ‘works’ and start saving. Even later is better than never.

  65. Vancouver Brit

    Overall it seems pretty accurate but I have to say the early adulthood figures seem way too high for me (talking about the FS chart here) whilst the mid adulthood seems lower than I’d expect considering they have the benefit of much higher salaries and much higher compounding.

    For example, I would be amazed if any couple I knew who was 25 had a net worth of $165,000. That seems way above average for that age bracket, considering they’ve likely only been working a couple of years on entry level salary and also likely have student debt etc. To then add another $385,000 by age 30 to total $550,000 seems extremely high too. If a couple has that much by 30 they aren’t just “above average”, they’re easily in the top 5%. To hit those figures they’d have to save $50,000 a year and realize a 7% return. Not easy for a couple just entering the workforce.

    Based on the stated (and assumed) assumptions, this should probably be renamed to “The Average Net Worth For The Above Average, Married & Early Retirement Focused Couple”

    You should also probably add to the assumptions that both individuals left education with no debt, in high paying careers, were already married/living together by 22 and both were very focused on investing and saving immediately out of education. Then I would probably agree with the net worth values in early adulthood, but those would be well above average assumptions to make.

    1. If you read the feedback so far, you’ll notice that the people who are happy or agree with the charts the most are older, and the people who disagree with my charts the most are younger. So that does provide credibility to your feedback.

      But I have to do in this for a long while now, what I realized is that younger people simply are not as disciplined and focused about money as older people. Why should I be when all they have to do is take care of themselves? It’s only after about 10 years of working at a job you don’t really love, seeing Friends go through hard times, starting a family, it’s retro where people really start getting serious about their finances.

      That is the narrative I’ve seen. So younger people, those were below 35 years old, can take these estimates to heart and try to achieve and surpass these numbers while young. Because if you do while young, you’ll have a much easier time as you get older.

      1. Vancouver Brit

        I can definitely agree that the big stumbling block is that young people simply don’t care to invest and save, they want to be rewarded immediately, not in X number of years. I had never heard of early retirement when I was new to the workforce and saving for a typical retirement of 65 was an absurd idea. Like you said, I don’t think it typically enters most people’s minds until they get into their 30’s or older when they have missed out on a decade of saving and compounding. That’s why I see the $550k at age 30 and think “yeah right”. Virtually nobody is that disciplined in their 20’s to save that much.

        I am super thankful I discovered investing and then FIRE by the time I was 26 and we are on track for what I deem to be an above average net worth by the time we are 30 and hopefully an early retirement in our early to mid 40’s.

        1. Remember though, this article is geared towards above average people. Or people who want to achieve above average outcomes.

          I have definitely consulted with many people who have networks way over $550,000 at age 30 due to combination of a high savings rate, multiple income streams, risk taking investments, and so forth.

          Instead of the mainstream media highlighting America is financial woes, I’d rather highlight what can be possible and help people get there. I’m not in the business of schadenfreude dancin instead of the mainstream media highlighting America is financial woes, I’d rather highlight what can be possible and help people get there. I’m not in the business of taking Joy in the suffering of others. Negative media is forever the most Clickbait type of media you can find.

          Good job getting to the target at 30!

        2. I am one of the “younger” people who agree with this couples chart. I will hit 500k net worth, possibly more, by my 30th birthday (I am currently 29, spouse 28) We have been in the work force for 7 years steadily increasing our income from a combined 60k to 160k while not increasing our lifestyle by much. The investing mindset has to come from parents or friends to begin early enough to invest as needed to meet these numbers or close to it. My father-in-law gave us the prudent advice to invest in vangaurd S&P 500 and similar funds that make the investing easy and keep costs down.

          1. Well done and he! I know that you bring up the investing mindset, my father said down with me when I was in ninth grade in the kitchen breakfast table to explain to me the newspaper stock charts. As a result, I started investing when I was in college with a little bit of money.

            That fine morning let me to pursue a career in finance. And the rest is history.

            1. Vancouver Brit

              I hope to pass this wisdom on to my child (if I have one) some day! How I wish I learned about personal finance/investing as a youth. It is one of the education systems biggest failures for preparing our youth for the realities of life.

              It blows my mind that these topics are not taught in school, they should be as important as English, science and maths. Literally everybody has to deal with money throughout their life yet nobody is prepared for this reality in their education.

      2. I think a bigger issue is that young people have not had the time to accumulate much assets. I graduated from school at 23 with no debt and being fairly financially disciplined. However, as I look down the values of the total net worth and compare to my notes over the years, I am well below average from ages 22-30 inclusive. However I’m well above your 35 one, not because of a sudden windfall but because of time–Time to accumulate, time in market, time for my home to appreciate.

  66. My husband and I are ~30 and have worked for an average of six years each. We have a $1.2M net worth combined. The differences between us and your chart is our property equity is at $400k instead of $50k, thanks to an early purchase and appreciation, and we have $550k in post tax savings and investments. We have another $270k in pre tax investments. We should they close to your pre tax figure by the time the younger of us turns 30. One of us took a while to start contributing to their 401(k), which is why we are behind there, but they have made up for it in the post tax savings they have been doing lately. We are on a great track – thanks for the charts!

    1. Very cool. Congrats!

      Yes, the home equity component is tough to measure. I used the median priced home plus some to account for above average housing costs as well.

      The housing recovery since 2010-2012 has been a massive boon for homeowners, which has resulted in a further widening of the wealth gap. I think this wealth gap will continue to widen for those who don’t own property given one is an inflation beneficiary, and another is a inflation taker.

      Related: Real Estate Is My Favorite Asset Class To Build Wealth

  67. If the couple are not the same age I assume the correct way to read this chart is to use the average of their respective ages? I hope so, because that makes us look even better : ) We are 5.5 years apart in age. For couples with some age disparity it isn’t quite fair to assume that both are making the same amount of money and are thus able to save at the same rate.

  68. Very much enjoy reading the posts. One question/concern I always have with these charts is that even at 2-3 million you are not looking at a very “comfortable” life post retirement. Using the 4 percent rule. At 3 million you are talking about a couple retiring on 120k a year. After taxes that’s something like 80k. I assume you have the house paid off but that’s not a lot in my book. This is one of the real psychological hurdles to retirement and – especially – early retirement. You have to really prep for a major reduction in spending compared to what you were making to save up the retirement funds. Curious if you have links to posts that discuss this hurdle. Thanks!

    1. Vancouver Brit

      Where do you live that a couple would be taxed 33% on their $60,000 each income? Not sure about the US but in Canada if you both invest properly in TFSA’s and RRSP’s you could likely withdraw most of the $120,000 tax free in retirement, or at least at the lowest tax bracket. You would not pay $40,000 taxes, not even close.

      Additionally, what do you do that you spend $80-$120k a year currently?! We live and rent in a very expensive city, go on 3 international vacations per year, own a car etc. and spend nowhere near $80,000 a year. You could live a VERY comfortable life in retirement on $80k to $120k a year.

      It looks like the problem isn’t your income, it’s your spending, it’s extremely high for somebody in retirement.

      1. What city do you live in? 80k is barebones for trying to live in SF. 10-20k property taxes, 20k for health insurance, that’s almost half the budget already. Have to eat too.

        1. Vancouver Brit

          I live in Vancouver (hence my name) where property prices are completely out of whack with income. Not too familiar with US healthcare, does it really cost $20k per year? Healthcare is largely free in Canada so we don’t need to worry about that in retirement. That’s one of the main drawbacks of early retirement in the US compared to Canada, however the biggest positive for the US is the choice of places to retire, whilst in Canada there are very few choices that don’t have an apocalyptic winter.

          Simply put, San Francisco is the last place you should retire to in the US from a financial perspective. San Francisco’s high cost is offset by its high income. Take away that high income and it’s difficult. That being said, here’s some thoughts.

          Your property tax figures assume a house price of $1.5-3 million, plus the portfolio of $2-3 million giving you a net worth of $3.5-6 million. Your choices of places to retire in the US is basically limitless with that net worth but if you simply cannot leave San Francisco you should probably downsize to a more reasonably priced home, invest the money you make from selling to increase your portfolio and thus annual cash flows for living and to reduce your property taxes.

          Or, even better, consider renting. According to this chart ( San Francisco has the highest price to rent ratio in the US of 45.88 (this is absurdly high, by the way), telling us it is MUCH cheaper to rent in San Francisco than it is to own. If that is the case you can sell your home and rent an equivalent home for far less than it costs you to own. Invest the $1.5-$3 million into your portfolio and you will have an additional $60,000 to $120,000 per year to live on, giving you a total of $180,000 to $240,000 (less tax). Sure, you’ll have to pay rent from this but if that price to rent ratio is accurate, you will come out way on top by renting than owning.

          1. An early retired friend purchases healthcare independently and pays $700/month ($8400 yearly) for a policy for each adult for a high deductible health plan. Add in a likely deductible of $5000 (e.g. you pay every dollar up to $5000) and you have a yearly cost of $13,400 for a single person or $21,800 for a married couple (deductibles are often shared among plan members).

  69. I’m confused about your property equity chart. Not everyone lives in an area where homes increase in such a crazy way, so are you saying that people in those areas should just be buying up additional properties at such a rate?

    I agree with you though on financial transparency between couples. Money, outside of infidelity, is the #1 reason for divorce (perhaps it’s before infidelity even), no? So I’m a big proponent on being open about finances with your partner, even if you aren’t doing joint bank accounts.

  70. Your statement that men and women are equal in America is just straight out false. It is laudable that you want to live in a society that is that way, but there is a large body of evidence that we are not yet living in that world.

    Just one example of this is an International Labor Organization study from 2010 showing that women earn 81c on the dollar compared to men:–en/index.htm

    Would you consider revising this portion of your blog post? I don’t think it changes your recommendations, but it does perpetuate a falsehood that I don’t think you mean to.

  71. Financial Coach Brad

    Great post. It’s fun and exciting to see that I’m about 10 years ahead of schedule from the FS chart. Cool! :)

  72. I love your bullet list of what constitutes an “above average couple” financially!

    Your charts here are sexy. One small thing I’m certain you’d like to correct in your equality chart. Age 40 and avg property equity. Missing a single 0 — 14k vs 140k. Also reflected in the total.

  73. I have got a ways to go Sam. Starting late (33 until my first big pay check) and years of school debt didn’t help. Add to that my third house (sold the other 2 with a the 6% commission that goes with it…ouch!) and my net worth while positive is no where near $1 million. The benefit of the doctor salary is that between now (age 36) and age 40 I expect the net worth to increase quite exponentially. So hopefully by then I will be closer to your estimated averages….hopefully.

    Also congrats on fatherhood. It is pretty amazing.

    1. Don’t worry. With your profession, you can work to age 70+ if you want and still make some good coin!

      For the rest of us, our shelf lives are much shorter.

      Damn I hate the 6% commission!

      1. Can and want are to very separate beasts…the plan now is to pay off my student loans and at year 5 (once vested in my 401k) definitely go to 80% (so instead of negotiating a severance it is negotiating part time work). A 4 day work week sounds pretty sweet.

        If somehow the savings and debt pay down go even quicker, I would consider going down to 60%. For me, that would ideally be a 5 day work week schedule where I go in at 8:30 and come out at 12:30 (except when I am taking call which is a full day). Then I could go to the gym, do my own thing, and be ready for my son when he gets out of school later in the afternoon. That is the plan for now and hopefully it will be in motion by 2021. Then I can ride it out until 60 (early full retirement with a pension and health care) or peace out earlier if I really need to.

        1. Abel @

          DaD – your story resonates with the message that we are very passionate about! We focus primarily on helping physicians understand that high net income doesn’t translate into high net worth unless you are purposeful and disciplined with saving and investing!

          I would love to mail you a book (free), The Passive Income Physician, written by one of my business partners Dr. Tom Black. I think you would enjoy it! My email is my tag please feel free to reach out!

          Sam – you too; would love to send you a copy!

  74. I’d say it’s VERY ‘loosely defined’…LOL. ‘People with this level of savings are a tiny percentage of the American population. 69% of people have less than $1000.

    1. I always ask readers: Do you want to be the average American who is indebted and just getting by? Or do you want to be above average so you can live a better one and only life?

      To me, the choice is very clear.

      1. Sam – there’s a huge discrepancy between the Your numbers and the article MII is sharing. I think your numbers are somehow very inflated.

      2. I would definitely agree that the choice is very apparent. Life is too short to continuously keeping up with the Jones and simply getting by or incur lifestyle inflation that are unnecessary.

        It’s also important to find a partner that shares the same values in order to have a better fulfilling and enjoyable life together.

  75. “If you love the government, are very traditional, and believe one spouse should probably stay at home then you are a proponent of the Government Taxation Net Worth method. Put it differently, you believe the wife is worth just 12.5% the value of the husband.”

    No, it doesn’t. I agree with you completely that the tax system unfairly punishes two-income families; that should change. But it does not follow that a couple that chooses a single-income lifestyle where the wife is primarily managing the home and children are doing so because they “believe that the wife is worth less.” Sure, it might. But it also might not. There are many various reasons why people might choose to live their life this way. Did you not think through those alternative reasons before writing this? Or have I misunderstood your argument?

    Yes, my wife and I have chosen for her to stay home while the kids are young (now that we are in our late 40’s, that era is coming to an end and she will go back to work). There are significant costs to do this, but also some spectacular benefits for our family. But I know another couple where the husband stays home with the young children while the wife works (she is a highly-paid oncology doctor). They did not decide to do that because they value him at 12.5% of the wife.

    It’s unfortunate when people seem to view life primarily through the lense of “economics” when there are other ways to assign value as well as to interpret the motives of others. For a blog that encourages financial wisdom to free people up to do what they want and pursue a vibrant life, I would have expected a little more precise (and nuanced) thinking on this matter. The beliefs of the author are being revealed here as well.

    Overall, a very good article. But I think you dropped the ball on this point and did not charitably consider the alternatives to why people might choose to live a single-earner lifestyle.

    1. Kevin, you’ve misunderstood my argument. The government spends too much deciding what’s right and wrong for American households.

      I believe we should all have the power to decide who should work, stay at home to take care of the kids, etc. But the government is penalizing two working spouses who may love what they do, and who may have spent many years studying for and honing their craft by NOT making the income threshold 2X at the top income tax bracket. It should be $400K + $400K = $800K before the 39.6% federal tax rate gets implemented, not $470K. Where the hell do they get $470k?

      Of course there are benefits to being a stay at home spouse. But let us decide, let’s not punish a spouse through higher taxes if s/he doesn’t renounce work.

      This is social engineering, just like the government decides who gets to marry (apparently not everybody), who gets to go to university (different grades and tests scores by race), etc.

      Related: At What Income Combination Does The Marriage Penalty Tax Kick In?

      Fight for equality every single day.

      1. Absolutely. Fair enough. I agree with everything in your comment. The current tax code represents a gross inequality that should be fought. It’s simply unfair and biased.

        But you’re original article appears to say that if you (not the government; “you” is what you wrote) choose to have one spouse stay at home then somehow that makes you a “proponent” of the government’s approach to taxation and “you believe” women are worth less.

        Um, what? I’m not trying to read this uncharitably, but it seems like you went beyond a sharp and reasonable critique of unfair government tax policy (yes, it’s social engineering) and began to conflate this with the motives of individual couples (not just the government). To me, that particular paragraph is a non sequitur; you could have dropped it and the article would have been just fine.

        Otherwise… love what financial samurai is all about.

        1. That’s true. And that’s the fun of writing a blog.

          One of the reasons why I wrote it that way is because I believe there’s going to be a lot of pushback from the charts, including the Government Taxation Method. The higher the figures, the more the pushback.

          Hence, with the push back, I wanted to turn their qualms onto themselves and make readers think.. maybe, it’s b/c the government has decided to punish you for your decisions, and is that fair? I don’t think it is.

          How about instead, REWARD the stay at home parent?

  76. Mr. and Mrs. Money Sloths

    Fantastic post, Sam! In the movie world, not all sequels deliver, but this blog post definitely did.

  77. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    Sam – I love your “Above Average” type posts.

    We don’t qualify for Above Average status based on the Financial Samurai Method. We would be Above Average if we hadn’t FIREd in 2012. But we’ve had more fun being FIREd than the extra wealth would have been worth. :)

  78. We are behind your targets (stay at home spouse, working spouse didn’t starting earning until 33, debt) but working hitting them soon.

    Net worth progression
    June of 2013: -317k
    June of 2014: -45k
    June of 2015: +55k
    June of 2016: +447k
    June of 2017: +705k

    Credit your site, WCI for motivating us!

    1. Abel @

      Dan – that’s amazing! Over a $1M swing in 5 years! Can you share how you were able to accomplish that?


      1. Living in midwest with a nice salary mostly. Our house is nice, but about half a years salary. We calculated what we wanted our savings rate to be and ‘pay ourselves first’ as the money comes in.

      2. WCI = white coat investor = Doctor readership = big income ($400k+ with specialities going upwards of $750k)

  79. I really like the post, but it isn’t really relevant for outside of the US. We have a higher tax burden and other funds for pensions. So it would be harder to get to that million, reaching that while in your 40’s AND living in the Netherlands, is really ambitious. Even as a couple.

    However the concept of looking at possible net worth for couples compared to singles is really interesting. The government way of thinking is similar to how it is here. The leveling of income and taxes is very high, where the high earners bare a lot of the burdens of the low earners.
    In my opinion, not necessarily because they want to empower people (woman) to stay at home. But because they can simply earn more money from you if you have a higher income. Still, it could be seen as unfair for the hard working above average person (in which I partially agree).

  80. Wow I just did a similar search on Google the other day to see where Mr. FAF and I are with our finances. Mr. FAF’s been in school for the past 6 years, so our net worth is nowhere near the amount indicated above. But we will be more aggressive about paying off debt and investing once he starts his new job in about a month. Thank you for sharing the great info as always!

  81. Thank you Sam for your enlightened posts as always. I just recently came across your blog and discovered that your posts are exactly what I’m looking for in terms of “higher” financial education (i.e. what’s next after budgeting, savings in 401k, IRAs, etc.)

    My husband (35) and I (33) are spot on in your chart. Our combined networth is about $880k. We could have had more, but before marrying me, my husband wasn’t much of a saver and financial planning to him was a foreign subject. The only thing different from your chart is our assets are distributed a bit differently. We paid off our house (bought it at $195k) and it is now worth $310k. So we are effectively $200k heavier in property equity. Which tells me that I need to invest more! :)

    We live in northern VA, which has high standards of living. Our combined incomes can definitely afford us a bigger house, but our passions are travel, helping our parents (all immigrants from Vietnam), and donating to certain charitable causes. So having a smaller mortgage afford us to do what we want.

    Please keep on writing 3x/week :) I certainly very much look forward to your emails in my inbox.

  82. I feel good about my financial situation, that is until I read your blog. It’s absolutely laughable that you expect a couple who’s just turned 40 to have 1.3 million dollars. Where are you getting these pie in the sky numbers from?

    1. A 40 year old here and married..Sam was spot on! by 2% – NY/NJ with high state taxes and high cost of living.

    2. Don’t think it’s laughable at all, it’s for above average couples. Most of my immediate relatives and friends hit these numbers easily. As a single, I reached 1.3 million by 34. No, I didn’t have a head start, I grew up on food stamps.

    3. Grant @ Life Prep Couple

      He outlines how he came to those numbers and I would say he remarkably accurate. We have been married 4 years with each working 6 years. Interpolating from the chart we very close to his numbers.

    4. I will be 39 this year and my projections have my husband and I being around $1,250,000 when I hit 40 next year. I don’t think it’s unrealistic. We married at 24 and have 2 kids and have made it a priority to save.

  83. frugal couple

    Sam, I noticed that Personal Capital calculated the annual savings using the historical increase in liquid asset contribution. So if I am paying down my mortgage agressively, the projection would be lower that it should be. We are a couple just pass 40, and we have two rental properties with one we are still paying off, and we are paying off the mortgage on our prime residence. I have a separate Excel spreadsheet that track how much we sock away annually and the amount shown on Personal Capital was way lower. What you would do in this situation?

  84. Enlightening blog post as always, Sam. My wife and I are in out early 30’s, married for nearly 9 years, and are off by a fair amount from these numbers. That isn’t discouraging as others commenters have implied. Instead I use it as motivation to save even more of my income. Since 23 I have saved at least 16% (with employer match) and I’ve increased ever since. Currently I am at 26%. Luckily our overall net worth is strong due to incredible housing appreciation in my market (Denver). We’re budgeting better than ever and saving more than ever so one day soon I hope my family achieves these numbers you state in your grid, in relation to our age. Despite missing the mark on your figures, other calculators and tools such as Personal Capital and Financial Engines give me a “very likely” chance of hitting my goal retirement date and income. But I’m always looking to save more because you never know what the future holds.

    1. Kevin Singel

      At your age the trajectory and financial education mean more than the exact dollar amount. Keep it up, keep accelerating, invest boldly but broadly, and you’ll do fine.

  85. Sam– how would you adjust these numbers for those living in high cost of living areas (e.g., NYC, SF)? The home equity numbers may be much higher and the high down payment needed may cause the pre-tax savings to be lower…. welcome your thoughts.

    1. Pretty sure these ARE for HCOL areas – look at what he quoted for one and two bedroom apartments. That’s ridiculously high! Around here, that kind of money rents you an entire house 3 or 4 bedroom house.

  86. Sam, your numbers are spot on (but you know that already). For your readers I say; those numbers are correct and can be reached. My wife and I got married at 25, raised two children and sent both to college. We always saved at least 21% of our incomes and now our numbers are within $100,000 of your projections for a 65 year old couple (even though we are 63). She was a teacher for 30 years and I was in pharmaceutical sales (no big time jobs, just regular everyday jobs).The trick of course is to save every month and continue increasing your savings percentage as your incomes increase. Thanks for all your charts and numbers. It makes couples like us better understand how our savings match-up to others who have also saved and sacrificed.

      1. Lance @ My Strategic Dollar

        Thanks for sharing this information and the two additional articles in the comment above. Agree with Motty – spot on analysis. I appreciate the insights and info.

  87. [my apologies if this is a duplicate posting]
    I have loosely followed this and the individual ‘above average’ thread for a while. How does that go on TV/radio shows: “long time listener, first time caller”? Anyway, I felt the compulsion to share that there is a tool (no issues with it that I can see, other than have zero bells and whistles) at Shnugi website (apologies if that is a “competing” site??) … left hand side has a ‘net worth by age’ calculator link. It uses (or claims too anyway) the referenced 2013 Fed Reserve data but gives actual percentiles (not just median) for any given age range (mostly it’s better to put in 2-4 year range, not just single year) and given net worth.

    To FS, I’d say that at least 2013 govt data says what you are calling ‘above average’ for a couple seems to fall in the 95% percentile of households. Now, I do understand that this tool is giving percentile of ALL households, not just married ones. That being said … I sincerely and seriously doubt that $2.1mm for a 50 year old couple is one standard deviation above the median (which for a very skewed distribution is more appropriate as the curve is non-normal and average is driven by $1bn outliers).

    That being said, this is not a “sour-grapes” comment … I’m near the 50 year mark and am tracking about 1.6x your “couples Financial Samurai” version above. We do have children, have had zero inheritance (actually we help to support our parents), our college educations were not paid for by our parents, have had no financial assistance (no family business, no big financial gifts etc), and to be honest we aren’t even that ‘lucky’ with investments or ‘timing’. But, we are persistent, very hard-working, and we work as a team!

    We HAVE been fortunate and blessed not to have anything truly terrible interfere with our financial plan (no cancer, major accidents etc), so I AM genuinely thankful every day. But how have we gotten here … is hard work (probably too hard) for decades. We are beginning to adapt our lives now as we want to live a little and give back … our next phase in life is just beginning.

  88. Hi Sam:

    We are in our late 60s, and somewhat ahead of the last row in your first table. We have always stayed within our budget and always saved pre and post tax. It was often not easy, and it has been a while since we have been working for ourselves. I know many people for whom luck, circumstance, and poor decisions have derailed their efforts. It’s easy to work yourself down and almost impossible to work your way back – the trick is to avoid the trip down.

    With some reasonable perspective on things, I have this thought about the wealth estimates you provide.

    In the 2013 Fed report, for those with a Family Net Worth in the 90th to 100th percentile: MEDIAN– About $2,000,000 MEAN — about $4,000,000. There is no way to be absolutely sure but that $4 million feels like about the 97th percentile, or so.

    At he same time, the median and mean of Family Net Worth for our age range 65 – 75 were the highest of any age range that start at age 35: MEDIAN — About $250,000 MEAN– About $1,000,000. That’s a huge difference and that $1,000,000 feels like at least the 97 percentile. That would mean the amounts in the last row of all the tables would be well above the 83rd percentile you reference.

    My overall advice is to compare your life to itself. Not everyone is equally talented or equally fortunate. Wealth is highly correlated with where you live. Monetarily, it comes down to doing your best and living on a useful budget, which includes sufficient retirement savings.

  89. Linsey Miller

    Loved your commentary on the sexism of the government method. As a dual-income couple we are penalized the most which is outrageous since we are already paying more taxes as W-2 employees than many small business owners who I know do not claim their full income. All women should have their own savings and income. I’m 41 and have seen many female friends go through divorces that are financially devastating. The worst of these is when she has stopped working, has not kept her old work connections, either did not put enough into retirement savings before kids or let her husband use those funds for other investments that failed. I also use Personal Capital daily and cannot imagine being clueless about my own net worth, taxes, and investments, but sadly many people are. We should teach these skills as early as possible in life and I take every opportunity to share the importance of financial planning with my kids!

    1. Hi Linsey,

      Indeed. It’s what happened to my sister. She spent 10 years raising a child and sacrificed her career in art/graphic design. Then the world passed her by and now she’s trying to catch up. I’m helping her here and there and will definitely help her more this year now that some hurdles have been crossed.

      I’m 100% for alimony for the spouse who gave up their career for family.

      You may like this post: At What Income Level Does The Marriage Penalty Tax Kick In?

  90. Sam,
    Long time reader through my wife’s account. Thank you for this useful information. It’s assisting us refine our financial strategies. Currently we are trending a bit behind your #s ($200K).
    Raising three children and providing private college educations took a toll on our savings and investing opportunities. No regrets though as all are moving forward in their own careers. We provided a strong foundation for their financial future through stressing minimal student debt (30K each), reinforcing the importance of saving, investing and not falling prey to rampant consumerism.
    My wife and I remain focused on our financial future (57 & 56) with consideration of retirement by 61. Fortunately my previous company provided a pension, 401K match and subsized retirement medical plan until Medicare. We chose not to add the pension or medical $ values in our calculations but rather treat them as bonuses.
    Keep up the good work so more of us can drive toward being above average!

  91. Holy crap, this is “avg”??? Looking at the first table I’d be willing to bet that people <40 these days are no where near those targets. We're doomed

      1. Clearly my reading ability is below avg ;)

        That said, the chart is more along the lines of all-star and not above avg :p

  92. At 41, we probably earn just over $400k, perhaps closer to $450k with rental income. My wife has close to a $1m in liquid assets and 401k, I have closer to $2.5m depending on exchange rates. We’re frugal without denying ourselves luxuries (we have a German coupe, go on holidays around the world) but also coupon, enter competitions, cook at home, shop at Costco and try and get mega deals on everything we buy. We’ve barely paid for our own flights anywhere. We’ve avoided renting as much as possible as we see that as dead money, and improved and profited on various places we’ve bought independently. I don’t think I’ve paid a penny to live anywhere once you consider capital appreciation. I think our lifestyle shows you can do the nicer things in life without blowing a ton of money, and save big for early retirement at the same time. The nice thing is that when we do retire, we’ll be well trained to live cheaply and well.

    All this saving was because we were both scared from a young age that we’d be poor. I don’t think my job will last forever so I’ve treated as a temporary short term career. I certainly won’t be earning as much in a year’s time. Only with a few million have I started to relax about finances.

  93. maica neces

    Great posting , Just to add my thoughts , if anybody is wanting to merge two PDF files , my co-workers ran across announcement here

  94. Intriguing analysis….something to aspire to. As others have mentioned, doesn’t take into consideration setbacks even ‘above average’ people run into. I.e. divorce, remarriage, real estate collapse (some markets haven’t completely recovered).

    Take me and my wife for example…..Wife and I are at about 25% of where we should be based on your chart at the age of 45ish. It’s def. not like we are spenders. I’m maxing out my 401k, we are stashing another 5-7% in post tax, and are aggressively paying down our mortgage (stuck with a 6% mortgage that we can’t refinance …trust me… I checked). We ascribed to the 1/10th rule for car ownership (heck, think it may have been closer to 5%) up until a year ago when we broke down and bought a new one…simply did not have time to keep patching together three cars with 100k plus miles on them. About 13 years ago (two recessions ago) had to take a 40% cut in pay …took me 7 years to get back to the wage I was making. Got divorced 10 years ago … ended up losing $100k on the house we had bought (all absorbed by me). Got remarried, and paid off the $20k in consumer debt my wife’s X left her with. Of course, no money saved for the kid’s college, so have been aggressively saving for the past 4 years to assist with that. House is finally above water … but still substantially below (about 25%) purchase price 10 years ago.

    Granted, we may be atypical and have hit a few more headwinds at most. Point is, I think the chart is optimistic, in that it it doesn’t seem to factor ANY headwinds in…. Above Average “Perfect” :)

    As a post script – I wouldn’t trade ANY of my life experiences so far for that “Above Average” personal wealth goal.


  95. The government doesn’t define marriage… The institution of marriage has been around millenia longer than our govt.. You want to invent your own idea of marriage, then at least invent your own term for it instead of hijacking a term already clearly defined

  96. AmericanFool

    Interesting analysis. I started in a recession and bounced between low-paying jobs until I finally caught fire and saw my salary double in the space of 5 yrs. My wife and I have a net worth that’s about 70% of your calculation, and according to national net worth and saving stats I’ve been able to find, we’re in the top 2-3% of savers (as a percent of income) for people our age (mid-late 40’s), which suggests your chart is quite optimistic. My wife did stay home for several years with the kids, and was underemployed for several years after that (and we have a special needs child = time and money). Still for all that, we expect to have $3.0-$3.5M NW by age 60, based on future cash flow projections, assuming no job loss, etc… but I work in an off-shoring industry, so prospects for another decade of continued employment at current salary is very dim unless I get a lucky break or two. It’s rare that someone doesn’t have multiple setbacks, which is why I think we’re in the top couple percent despite being on a single income for 5 years, and why it isn’t unlikely we’ll fall somewhat short. We try to put every dime of cash flow we can into some form of future income, but financial freedom day is still a decade away.

  97. Pingback: Who Is The Typical Financial Samurai Reader? | Financial Samurai

  98. Nice analysis, looks like we’re right on the Samurai average, for 62 yrs (interpolated a bit). However, isn’t it more relevant that whatever saved works for the future (which depends on how much you expect to earn, when you retire, expenses, etc), rather than what your peers are doing? I guess I am just saying this to point out being at the “average” doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’s sufficient.

  99. Pingback: Gay Marriage Rights, Financial Benefits, And Tax Penalties | Financial Samurai

  100. Savvy Savers

    Wow – your numbers are almost dead on for us! We’re both 36 and have a net worth around $920K. I went to graduate school so didn’t start working until 25, so we are little behind on pre-tax savings with just $500K, but have $325K in post-tax savings and $95K of equity in our home that we purchased 10 years ago. We are hoping to hit the million mark next year. Very interesting post and glad to find out that we are amongst the “above average”!

  101. Maybe this was already mentioned, but in the “Government Tax Method” table, Age 25 seems to have surpassed Age 30 in total net worth by quite a bit. Doesn’t seem to track. What is supposed to happen between 25 and 30 that knocks you back… or are those numbers incorrect?

  102. I did review the chart you mentioned, and it does seem that the only members of the married population to exceed $1mm n/w according to the survey are the top 90-100% of all income earners. This is not current as it is from 2010, but I did find it insightful. I’d actually be interested in seeing what Samurai thinks about it as it relates to his position on this blog. Thanks Samurai.

  103. I’m not sure that I buy your numbers, if your definition of “above average couple” is the top 16%. They look even more suspect when I look at your checklist definition (which I feel pretty confident applies to more than 16% of the married population). When you come up with some figures based on a theory or model, it helps to see if there is some data available to check if you are in the right ballpark. In this case there is: the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve. There’s a website (I’m not sure if posting links to other financial services websites is kosher, so I’m leaving it to interested readers to find themselves) that takes this data and allows you to see net worth percentiles at various ages. Plugging in $550,000 at age 30 puts you at over the 99% percentile. It get’s better as you get older, but your “above average person” is never at less than the 95% percentile.

  104. What do you suggest for couples wanting to keep track of their net worth via an online tool? My wife and I share our savings accounts but have separate brokerage and 401(k) accounts. Should I import all of them into one Personal Capital account?

    Many thanks for a great site and great blog posts.

    1. Hi Amrit,

      Yes, I’d consolidate both wife and husband’s accounts into the Personal Capital app. That way, you can keep track of everything all in one place and optimize accordingly. It’s free and easy to link everything up. For those items that don’t link up, you can manually input the value of the asset or liability. Then run your investment portfolios through the 401k and portfolio fee analyzer, and see how your current allocation sits with your comfortability/risk tolerance.

      Once you start tracking your net worth, you will grow your net worth more efficiently.

      Have fun and enjoy building wealth together. Money can be a touchy subject between couples, or a great, fulfilling game when you’re on the same page!



  105. We live in the Bay Area and our numbers are a bit skewed towards the real estate equity. I’m 40 and my wife’s 35. We have $550K pre-tax, $300k post-tax and $500k home equity with an additional $100k equity in cars (couple of paid off but rapidly depreciating European cars that we were too stupid to buy brand new). Our two kids are definitely a financial drain; we’re sending them to a private school as our local school district is not that great. Two questions:
    1. What do you think of our current financial situation?
    2. Any thoughts on the public school (expensive mortgage) vs private school (cheaper mortgage, expensive school fees) debate for two kids?

    1. Hi Sam,

      If I am reading what you wrote you have $550k pre-tax net worth in investments other than real estate, $100k equity in vehicles, and $500k equity in your home- is that correct? To comment on your overall financial picture we would need many more numbers, such as current income from all sources, bills going out per month, mortgage payment, etc. For time’s sake, lets say your income levels are supporting your monthly bills and then some. How much of your monthly income are you putting into some form of savings on a percentage basis? The equity values you present may be very high for some lower wage earners, but if you are a very high wage earner then perhaps you are not doing as well. It is all relative. A question I have. What’s up with the expensive vehicles? To each their own, but given your financial accumen and the fact that you acknowledge it was not your proudest financial moment buying these European vehicles, why not sell them now before they depreciate further? Can you get 70 cents on the dollar from what you paid? This is a big financial decision of course, but, if you have no debt on them and you are certain you can sell them for more today than you can six months from now why not do it? Buy something that fits your lifestyle needs, not necessarily your wants. I think this could be a good financial move in the immediate future for you.

      To answer your second question. I understand your dilemma. More expensive home in a nicer area where there are nicer public schools, or stay where you are with a cheaper mortgage but must go the private school route. When you add up the numbers is it essentially the same? If so, it comes down to value. In my biased opinion many California public schools are aweful. Not based purely on location, but based on lesson plan and accomplishments of students post graduation. Much of this is personal opinion and the values your family places on such matters. My personal suggestion would be make a sound decision on home and mortgage, while also being diligent as you research schools. Financially a lower mortgage cost is better if the savings over a potentially more expensive mortgage is not completely negated by private school tuition and fees. If you find that in a certain area there are strong public schools and there is a great deal on a home that will give you nearly instant equity with a smoking deal, this could be a good option. If you find that the public school options are simply much more inferior to the private school you are considering, then of course your children are likely going to get a better education at the private school. Only you know the schools, finances of each scenario, and details of each option. I would suggest giving strong consideration to the most financially savvy option while not hurting your children from an education standpoint if you can help it. Do open school districts exist? is commuting them from out of area possible? Maintain cheaper mortgage while sending them to great public school? Just some thoughts.

      1. Thanks for the feedback manny. Our income has risen in recent times, so we’re able to save more. We expect the picture to look much brighter in the next 5 years. With one child, we were able to consistently save 30% of our income. Our incomes rose as we had the second child and I’d say we’re able to save the same dollar amount as before, but that equates to about 25% of our combined income now. No kidding, kids are expensive to raise!

        The reason our equity is high is due to us aggressively attacking the mortgage. We bought our house in 2007 when the prices were declining. They declined further in the following years, but we were able to make significant additional payments to lock in a 30 Year fixed loan @ 3.375% in 2011. Now our mortgage is less than most apartment rentals. We’re now no longer making extra mortgage payments and are diverting those funds to other investments (mostly low cost Vanguard funds) instead. Purely financially, without school district concerns, it probably makes sense to stay in our current house for the next 15+ years and then downsize. Deciding the housing situation will be our toughest decision in the coming years.

        Regarding the cars, we intend to drive them for the next 8+ years. They’re paid off and will be a constant reminder to not compete with the Joneses. We hope the cars are unique enough that they’ll age well (like us) :)

    2. Hi Sam,

      1) Using the Equality Method, at age 40, you guys should be around $1 – $1.2 million, therefore, you guys are tracking ahead of expectations. The question is: how long do you plan to work? If you say 15+ years, then you’re doing great. If you are burning out, then it’s time to save more. You must have some nice cars to have $100K in equity!

      2) I’m a product of public schools, so I’m biased that it will be fine. Hillsboro, Atherton, Burlingame, Cupertino are all great! And, you are utilizing your property taxes and getting something in return, instead of paying prop tax AND paying private school tuition. That is horrible.

      Check out:

      How To Make Six Figures A Year And Still Not Feel Rich – $200,000 Income Edition
      Recommend Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience

      1. Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, health permitting, both me and my spouse intend to work for another 20 years at least. We do understand that staying employed, even if the desire’s there, may not always be our choice. So we’re starting to be more aggressive with our savings from now on. There’s no plan for a third kid or new cars etc, so we expect future earnings increases to go straight to investments.

        The only (and it is a big one) variable is our housing situation. Our local school district is unfortunately just not that good. So private school for the next 5 years appears to be on the cards. Paying the premium to get into a top rated school district is likely to come at a price that could make us house poor for years. Our thinking is that a low mortgage better equips us to deal with a loss in income, with the known downside of our kids attending below average public schools. As opposed to potentially losing our house with a higher mortgage.

        We have the luxury of not needing to decide right away, so we’ll save aggressively for a few years and see where it takes us.

  106. Pingback: Who Should Pay For The Wedding? A Logical Guide To Lavish Spending | Financial Samurai

  107. Pingback: Should I Get A Divorce? Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Separating | Financial Samurai

  108. In your calculation, how important is the breakout between the columns – ie what if your pre-tax savings and property equity are reversed, with the bulk of your assets in home equity? Does that put a couple in a worse position?

    1. KevinInColorado

      I think too much real estate is a problem. Homes cost money to own while stock pay you to own them (dividends). Yes hopefully they all also appreciate over time but you have to consider taxes, maintenance and utilities on that McMansion. Over time stocks tend to appreciate more than homes as well. Better off owning a more modest home and investing the difference.

      Oh, and I forgot mortgage interest (since I don’t have any) but obviously at is another financial sinkhole. And don’t tell me about the nice tax deduction. You pay a dollar in interest, then get a 30 cent deduction? I’ll give you 50 cents any time you want to send me a dollar!

      1. I think you make some good points, but Id like to present some additional commentary for your consideration. A person must live somewhere, and if youre reading this I would assume your not living in your parents basement, althought, this would be a great wealth building strategy if u have no cost of living there! So lets assume most either rent or own. If youre spending 1200 a month on an apartment which you get no equity from payments, wouldnt it be better to own? This takes no additional considerations into accout such as appreciation, taxes, etc. In regards to a home as an investment vs stocks, a home is only a comparable investment to a dividend paying stock if you are using it as a rental. With positive cash flow you receive essentially a dividend. Stocks are shares in companies which are run by people other than yourself and you as a a single individual have little control of, while a rental unit you have complete control of, even if using a property management company which you control via the purse strings and as owner. The long and short of it in my opinion, stocks are a good starting point, rentals should be your end game. Best of luck.

  109. Very interesting article. It would be interesting to consider the above average person in relation to state residence. For instance, we live in MS where the avg. household income is 36k. My husband is 25 earning 53k a year and I’m 26 earning 17k. I’m wrapping up my masters and it will be a while before we meet your charts expectations. Since we both will have a masters degree soon and a possible pHD in the future, I believe we will get there if we keep going forward.

  110. Interesting that you point out the wife’s value is only 12.5% under the Government tax system. Why do you assume it is the wife who is given a lower value? Many relationships the woman has the better wage opportunity, due to career choice versus wage discrimination.

  111. What do you mean real estate. Are you saying I should try to purchase rental property when I have enough savings? I know there are many tax advantages to doing that.

    The only debt we have is the mortgage on our home at this point.

  112. Congrats on your savings success. You’re likely going to start hitting your peak income levels over the next many years, and it sounds like youre in the right track. While not for everyone, I would make sure you have the right asset classes and leave room for plenty of risk in those. Right now, I would suggest real estate investment as your intermediate and long term goals, but try to obtain max returns on your stocks and keep interest expense down on any debt as much as possible as you enter this phase of your life. Continuing on this track, you’ll soon be able to leverage your investment returns and cash balances to get into a rental property. Real estate creates more millionaires in this country than any other source- keep that in mind. best of luck.

  113. Unlike most here I would say I am middle class and truly represent the average american. My wife is 29 and I am 30. We have one daughter and hope to have another child soon. We have a 1500 sq ft house with a 5 year old dog. Both of our vehicles are paid off and we live in the midwest. Unlike most on here we are almost done paying off student loans etc. Our parents didn’t pay for college.

    Annual Income $110 K (combined)
    Net Worth $70k (IRA 15k, Savings 30k, Home Equity 25k)

    My wife in I started working full time in 2008. If you go by the years worked on your chart its 6 and we are WAY behind. I agree with others commenting that if you went to college and paid for it yourself its hard to hit these numbers early on. Last year we saved about 17k – 12k in savings and 5k in retirement accounts, or about 15% of our total income.

    1. more if you want it

      Here is how I see retirement turns out for different income levels

      lower middle class ( social security for food + subsidized housing or bad/remote places to live

      middle class ($50k ~ $150k income) –> social security for food + paid off mortgage + retirement/pension for healthcare

      upper middle class ($150k ~ $400k income) –> social security for income tax + paid off mortgage in a downsized unit in taxfree state + 2% dividend income from $1M~3M 401k+roth+ira+pension for food+leisure…..when you are old you can’t drive and be a landlord.

      upper class –> inherited standard of living from parents’ networth of $10M ~ $10B

  114. Bs sniper- while i dont agree or disagree with you and simply seeing other folks opinions, i do want to point out some personal observations. In 2011 i bought a home for 201,000. I currently have that home under contract for 325,000, and i put 18,000 into it for rehab. I purchased a home last year in May for 376,000, and sold it 2 months ago for 443,000. Case schiller may be a means or average, but i buy depressed homes, fix them up, and do better than the case schiller may indicate. The authors personal experience may not be the norm, nor is mine, but an educated buyer can do quite well in real estate.

  115. Dennis O'Hara

    At 34 I have 250k in equity since I bought in a good year (2009) and 250k in all post tax. So I don’t really fit in the correct spot for above average with couples. However, my wife doesn’t work and stays home with the kids so should figure myself in the singles category? My annual income of 130k says I’m at 84%. I also did not graduate from college and entered engineering as mostly self taught. Interesting site.

    1. excuse me but what do you do exaclty? i work for a fortune 500 company and engineers with masters degrees and PhDs your age in my company do not even make your salary yet you are a self proclaimed engineer with just a highschool degree, so im curious what exactly you do or who you work for. also you have kids (plural) and a stay at home wife on one income been able to save 250,000 post tax in less than a decade? yea sounds very suspicious if you ask me. many couples in your situation making double your salary still cannot achieve what you claim.

      1. Dennis O'Hara

        I am a self taught electrical engineer that maintains, repairs, and installs Uninterruptable Power Supplies and other ancillary critical power equipment. I am also not alone in my niche industry regarding my method of training or skill based pay. I maintain data centers for customers in industries such as finance, healthcare, co-location, and social networking. You may say you work for a fortune 500 company but the uninterruptable power keeping the servers running is maintained by UPS engineers, like me. Oh and you can take your BS attitude an F&%k off. Just because you can’t achieve in the method you wished shouldn’t mean that others can’t. Nor should you discount the method in which others do so.

    2. Your claim that you now have 250,000 in home equity because you simply bought at “a good time” is also a bogus claim. Looking at the S&P Case-Shiller 20 city composite index as a sanity check no your fraudulent claim shows that since 2009 the index has only advanced 20%, that means that on say a $500,000 your home equity due to appreciation would roughly be $100,000, so you would have to had put down close to $150,000 as a down payment, yet you did this on one income and you have kids and you make only $130,000/year, sorry doesn’t add up. I assumed $500,000 as the base home price which is actually way higher than the national median home price, but I am exaggerating my numbers and they still do not add up to justify your bogus claims.

      1. Dennis O\'Hara

        I purchased a home in Corona, CA for 209,000 with 20% on a 30 year conforming in 2009 that is now worth 480,000. Wtf do you call that? I had my first girl in 2012 and my second 2 months ago. F%$k you and your stats. I also still maintain just over 250k in post tax saved income diversified in mutual funds, etfs, and bonds. The only thing lacking is significant tax deferred 401k and ROTH IRA savings. In addition check a stat of what the stock market did last year. If you didn’t earn over 20% your a kook. In fact your a jealous lame altogether. Hope those student loans are working out for you. I opened all my books in a library or at home while working. I moved up to an EIT the old fashioned way, HARD WORK! Look it up.

      2. Dennis O\\\'Hara

        Bull-Sh&% Snipper. I purchased a short sale home in 2009 in Corona, CA for 309,000. From then to now I have paid the mortgage with some additional principle down to approx 220,000. I refinanced 2x taking no money out to get to 3.5% still at a 30 year conforming. I still pay the same monthly as to pay towards principle. I also eliminated escrow and pay ins/taxes myself. My home with some rehab done by myself and friends is worth 480,000 give or take. Comps have it slightly higher. At it’s height it was worth over 530,000. I had a baby girl in 2012 and another just a few months ago. I’m still on a single income making about 140,000 per year with my own business and a salaried position. Your stats and unfounded claims are of no consequence to my current position. You are a hater and a lame. I did it with hard work and educated myself at home and in the library. Anyone else that lacks the pessimism and negative disposition you have can do it too.

  116. Hey Sam,

    I’d like to consider myself financially savvy with my spouse and I at combined incomes in our early 30s in excess of $200k now. I have shared your website with several colleagues in the financial arena and asked them their opinion. These are some very, very lofty goals in my opinion. While I can say I have acheived these, I was lucky and purchased properties that quadrupled from the bottom of the housing market. What income level would you consider above average as you set up your article? For instance, a single 23 year old you mentioned should be around $20k n/w. keeping in mind this person probably attended college 18-22, and has student loan debt and likely having no home building equity because they were unable to get approved due to income levels during college- what did you consider for income levels starting at 23? what would you consider an above average income at age 30? Perhaps a follow up article outlining details about your first article on this subject would help folks like me out. I really do appreciate the information and the time you spent on this- even years after you completed it you can see folks are reading it. thank you.

  117. You do a lot of talking about sexism while assuming that the government assumes it is the woman who will stay home with the kids. The government assumes that the above average couple will decide that either the man or the woman in the relationship will stay home for the kids. It is a perfectly valid assumption for the government to make (but why do you assume they think the woman in the relationship will always stay home)? Is the 12.5% increase never targeted at stay at home dads?

  118. Asif Itellyou

    I can confirm that your goal for the above average person is realistic. I retired in 2007 at age 65 after 43 years of work. My financial net worth then was $2,830,300. That was before the so-called Great Recession. Now, in May 2014, my financial net worth stands currently at…$4,239,600. My primary residence and a vacation building lot together are worth approx. $1.1M. Liabilites?: None, zero debt. I can’t speak to the couple situation. I was divorced in 1992; best financial move I ever made!

  119. Interesting chart. Didn’t read all of the comments so forgive me if this was already mentioned!
    1) Where is the student loan debt? Total net worth should be negative for the first few working years even for above average people if we’re assuming you didn’t go to school on daddies money. Your top 16% person probably went to a top rated school where they paid top dollar for their education (even after grants etc).
    2) The work start date and assumed income are much too soon and much too high even for top 16%. I would imagine the typical top 16% person will have a masters (at least), which means they aren’t starting to work at age 22. Or 23…or 24…
    3) In general the savings and growth amounts seem too high on the front end and then too low on the back end. (Unless you indexed them for inflation?) If I had $112k in tax deferred accounts saved by age 25 I would hope to to have near $1.7M if left to grow over 40 years *assuming I didn’t put another dime into it after age 25*. Yet your figures are showing $2.5M at age 65 even with all those contributions between 25-65.
    4) Lending standards are tighter then they were. The home equity figures at age 30 – 35 are perhaps too low. Conforming loans require a minimum of 5%, but in practice this is closer to 10% or even a full 20%. Perhaps it’s easing up over the last year since I got mine. This increases money required for home equity while reducing money available for higher returns in post tax savings. I think it’s OK to assume the intelligent investor re-balances excessive home equity into securities later on in life.

    1. Good questions!

      1) Above average people often have bank of mom and dad pay or get grants

      2) You are free to go by years of work experience instead of age

      3) You are right. Most people who disagree are under 35. Most people over 35 all nod their heads in agreement.

      4) I think it’s about right.

  120. What tripe. So lets ignore the fact that there are only 10 million millionaires in the nation and pretend the “average” 60 year old plus (of which we have 50 milliion +) are all millionaires.

  121. Hi Sam,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I love these charts but I think one of your main assumptions in putting together a joint net worth target is a bit off. While yes, men and women are equal, it’s unfortunately rather difficult for both individuals to pursue high-powered careers at the same level. Why? Geography. Not infrequently a couple will have to relocate in order for one person to pursue a promotion. Even if the other person has been extremely successful, changing cities or companies will set them back a bit. This has nothing to do with gender — for instance, my husband and I just moved for my job and he took small pay cut. He’ll work his way back up in a short time, but nevertheless he made a sacrifice. Some couples choose one career to follow; others switch off. Either way, it is an extremely rare couple that doesn’t have to make compromises for one another’s careers.

    All the best,


    1. Hi SAM,

      You make a good point about one spouse sacrificing his/her career for the other. It does seem rare for both spouses to get their ideal job in a move doesn’t it? That said, if both spouses are rockstars, I think they will do well wherever they go, unless the place is a very sparsely populated area. For example, go to SF, NYC, Chicago, LA, London, Paris, Hong Kong and if you are at the top of your game, you will get plenty of offers. But it takes time indeed.



      1. London, Paris, Hong Kong, etc… I think you’re somewhat parochially overestimating the abilities of even the most rockstarish ‘trailing spouse’ to find a high-performing job when the whole family has relocated to another country. It’s a big ask at a time when the spouse is trying to give the kids some security, because they’ve left behind everything and everyone they know. A bigger ask, when it’s a non-English speaking country. And an even bigger one when the country, like many (including the US) typically doesn’t issue a residency visa to the spouse that even permits working.

        As a married couple, we’ve lived in the UK, Switzerland, and now the US… ask me how I know all these difficulties :).

        Good targets to aim for though. We’re a little behind in our early 40s, having been doing it all on one income, but we’re catching up rapidly and plan to be financially independent within 10 years. And I’m certainly doing my best to indoctrinate my kids and set them on the right path.

        1. I agree, which is why I introduced “The Government Taxation Method” to figuring out a married couple’s net worth. One spouse stays at home b/c that is what the government wants.

          But, I’d love to hear more about your perspective on what one spouse did when you moved around the UK Switzerland, and now US. What are you or she or he doing? :)

          1. Oh, I’m not sure it’s what the govt wants? Surely the G would prefer that I went out to work and paid tax, plus put my kids into childcare so that more daycare workers could be gainfully employed and pay tax too!

            Nevertheless, on the govt table (my personal favorite, naturally :) we’re adrift from the targets in our early 40s, but should hit them by 50. It’s good to have goals – I have a spreadsheet for annual Net Worth targets for the next decade until we chuck it in, and then a Lifetime Spreadsheet scrolling out our income/ expenditure, pensions kicking in, US Social Security and European equivalents, until we’re 100.

            The global nomad stuff… hubby works for an engineering-based multinational (and since I’ve mentioned that, I’ll also point out that unless you work in tech or finance, both having rockstar careers in cities at all, let alone the same city, is unlikely). We started in the UK, he got upgraded to the European head office, and now we’re in the World head office; we’ll stop here at least long enough to see the kids through high school. He’s worked, I’ve done everything else, in different environments/ cultures/ school systems/ languages. It’s fun in a breathtaking roller coaster way, but plays havoc with your financial planning. Take what you do, and then imagine keeping track of it all and making decisions across three completely different investing regulatory environments, tax regimes, FICA-a-likes and the resulting state pensions, and currencies.

            In fact, given all that, points to me for even being on your tables at all!

  122. Good post, can you post what % of the population falls in the ranges you lay out during those times? I dont know if that data is available? I’ve always felt that if all world wealth were distributed prorata to the useful life of the world population within 1/2 a generation we would be back a similar distribution as we have today. My wife linked me this post, she is 30, attorney. Im 35, RE Broker, speculator and serial entrepreneur. Right now we are trending in the 50 year old range and having a bit of a conflict. I want to travel more, she is just about to make partner at a bulge braket firm and we cant seem to agree what we need for retirement, her number is 6 million, my number is both of our incomes replaced by passive income, I have achieved the later but she is fixated on her number. So what is more important?

    1. I would say less than 15%, but that is to be expected as we’re talking about above average.

      Regarding your dilemma with your wife, it’s great that she is so motivated. If she can make partner at 31-32, that’s huge and maybe you’ll get to 6 million before you know it. Once you get there though, it’s tempting to want more. 2% on 6 mil is $120,000. Is that enough to live?

      I’d sign up for Personal Capital if I were you guys and get a snapshot of all your assets and combined net worth. Once you’ve got a clear picture, you’ll have a better idea of how to plan and get to 6 million with the various scenario analysis tools they’ve got. It’s free too.

      Good luck!


  123. FS, Excellent article! Hard to find real numbers out there. One quick point, which may have already been covered, 401K’s only showed up in 1987 and they were limited to $7,000/year/person. Your analysis assumes a 401k deposit of $17,000 every year/per person throughout. My wife and I just turned 60 and judging by your charts we are sitting between the government average couple and the FS average couple (we did better than 5% but we don’t have the after tax savings or the home equity that you suggest). I think it is important to note that your charts are age dependent, that is, if you are 24 today you will need a lot more at 60 than I need at 60 because you will have 36 years of inflation to deal with. If my father had as much money at 60 as I do he would have been a very wealthy man indeed.
    On another note I agree with your Roth analysis. I know folks who converted, paying taxes on the conversion during their earning years. I tried to tell them that it would be better to pay the taxes after you retire on the amount you need to take out each year while you have no earned income. Never pay taxes up front in the hopes of not paying taxes later, the rules can and will change, look at Social Security (age of benefit, taxing of benefit, recalculation of increase, etc).

    1. Thanks Mike and good points indeed. I keep it constant at $17,000 because 1) The maximum contribution figures will continue to go higher probably every year or two, so that’ takes into consideration lower levels, 2) I’m forward looking. The article is 65% geared towards folks who are younger who still have time to save.

  124. Love the website! Great advice. A quick comment about gender equality/inequality. My husband and I both graduated the same time, from the same school and started our careers in Big 5 consulting firms. My spousal unit’s salary right out of college was 30% higher than mine and the gap has continued throughout our career (13 years). My grades were even better than his!

    1. Welcome to my site!

      Wow, 30% is ridiculous. Time to lay down the law! But, perhaps your husband is just making more than others within his own firm, which is a win-win for you and your husband?

  125. Sam,

    Love reading your stuff, but feel your figures are way off the mark for
    most people, above average or not.
    I know many people/couples in the “60” age group, and they are no where near
    what your figures indicate. I also think they will have comfortable retirements with
    what they have, it just won’t be at the level of lifestyle they enjoyed during their
    working years. Many are already retired but they live very comfortably on $3-$6K a month
    in the Seattle area. Most have pensions albeit not large ones.
    Many will never reach the level of savings/net worth your charts indicate, but they will
    retire comfortably nonetheless. Call me optimistic or in denial but I believe it will happen.
    Just my opinion.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your thoughts. By definition, “above average” is not most people. Most people based on skewed statistics are not in good financial standing, at least here in the US.

      $100,000 in retirement savings at 35 and only $250,000 by their mid 60s is not very good. This post is for above average couples (title, content of post). I think we need to find a better barometer for better financial health, and that’s why I wrote this post.

      I have no doubt a couple can live happily off $3-6K/month in Seattle if they’ve paid off their mortgage and live a normal life.

      Regards, Sam

  126. This one got me thinking and re-analyze finances. One great reminder. Well, it’s definitely not too late to double our efforts saving.

  127. I don’t think I understand the equity portion. If you are putting 20% down in most markets you are already hitting it in year 1 of ownership

  128. My wife and I are both 29. Following the Samurai Method, we are right on par with you chart. Unfortunately, the main difference is that all our “savings” is allocated in post-tax accounts. About 45% is a Roth 401K and 55% in other investments/savings accounts.

    I’ve read a lot about Pre-Tax vs Roth 401K, but I can never find a good answer about one or the other. Should we be mixing pre-tax and Roth 401K contributions or all pre-tax for our 401K?

    Right now, combined, we put 20% of our post-tax salary into a Roth 401K. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I should also mention that we have been contributing to our 401Ks since we were 22. In addition, we made just shy of 250K in 2012.

      1. the biggest reason in my mind is tax rates will be higher later than now.

        The macroeconomics of the matter dictate it. Even though deficits fell to 2% of GdP versus 10+% under W, we are experiencing record low inflation bordering deflation. Tax rates are also the lowest since Eisenhower.

        Yet the structural debt from the two wars, two tax cuts, and medicare part D all charged on credit remain to get paid in the future. Since money until last week was cheap hover above zero and under 2%, and we are zero bound society, it stands to reason that a Roth makes total sense.

        At least from a macroeconomic perspective. Paying govt now may not suit some tax regime or philosophy but if I was to look at the real economy and macrotrends forced to make a bet, I would be a fool not to advantage myself of Roth given how things stand at the macro.

  129. Nice article, just stumbled on it. I’m 30, my wife is 26 and we’re right in line (actually, even a little above) your guidelines. We’re taking our first step into the rental market soon. I purchased my current house in 2008, near the bottom of the market, fixed it up and should be able to clear $500/month profit on it, plus the tax benefits. Not a huge amount, but a start. We’ve moved up to a slightly larger home, but the new mortgage is less than 95% of our pre-tax annual income. We’re hoping to rinse and repeat, moving to nicer places over the next 10-15 years, while having someone else buy our other homes, so we can continue to invest elsewhere.

  130. Just a thought but why would you want a 4 million dollar net worth at age 65, wouldn’t it better to stop working at say age 40 and enjoy an extra 25 years of freedom from work?

    Freeat33 had a great post on that, save 70% of your salary and 10 years later quick your job. You won’t have 4 million but you’ll have a whole lot of happiness

    Just a thought

    1. I think one of the biggest fallacies is that somehow work and having millions of dollars makes people unhappy. I can assure you that one can be happy working and being well off.

  131. Hi there! I thought this article was very interesting because I feel like it is really difficult to know how you are doing. Thanks for all the work you put into calculating these numbers. I was pleased to realize that it looks like my husband and I are ahead of the game… at least for now! Who knows how drastically things will change when we have kids in the near-ish future.

    We are both 31. I started working at about 25, my husband at 26. Both of our salaries have increased substantially since we entered the workforce. With bonuses, I expect to pull in around $190K and he will get around $100k (and don’t get me started on the sexist tax code – I completely agree with you!). Our net worth is around $770k. I still have student loans from graduate school but at 2.375% interest I’m not too worried about it. We max out both of our 401ks as well as our back-door Roth IRAs plus save for retirement after-tax. Everything is in low-cost index funds. I am fortunate to receive a 6% match plus another automatic 4%; my husband for the first time this year will be getting a 5% match.

    I love your point about both partners being secure enough so both can choose the path they want. My husband recently took a new job that required a $30k paycut but we took the risk and did it because we knew we could handle it financially. We know a lot of people don’t have this luxury. He is enormously happier and it was absolutely worth it. I feel incredibly fortunate to know we have these options. I came from a single income family with a disabled non-working parent and that definitely was never an option for my dad. He isn’t a saver himself, but I think my understanding from a young age that I would have to financially support myself and, eventually, probably my parents too, stoked my savings bug.

    My goal is to save about 30% of our gross earnings for retirement and another 25% for short-term savings (like home improvement, musical instruments, electronics, new cars, vacations). We have a small house in a cheap city that we bought for 215k that was recently appraised for ~300k when we refinanced. We’ve put a lot of money into it, but it’s been for our enjoyment, not investment, and we’ve truly enjoyed those improvements, which we paid for in cash. We are now on a 10-yr mortgage at 2.75%. Not sure if that the best idea but psychologically I just could not handle paying more to the bank in interest than I was putting down in equity, and since our house is so small. We also don’t have any car payments and have saved up so we don’t ever have to have one again, if we don’t want to.

    I love budgeting because to me it is a way to dream about the future. I also budget in part because I think it gives me the freedom to spend money, otherwise I think I honestly would save even more. I work hard to make sure we aren’t sacrificing our quality of life today or in retirement. I am pretty happy with the set-up we have. I know our savings and investing style probably won’t ever make us rich but I also feel comfortable that we won’t have to go live in a ditch in our 80s, and that’s alright by me.

    Sorry for the long post but the other commenters and your article were inspiring! Thanks again for the great info.

    1. Well done AO and thank you for agreeing with me on the sexist government and ridiculous tax code.

      Good to hear you guys are making such a high combined income compared to the cost of your house. It is rare for couples to make more per year than the total value of their house!

      How did you end up finding my post curious to know? I always welcome new readers who bring about new perspectives. I really think you two would benefit well with Personal Capital to track your finances and manage your net worth. It’s free and my favorite financial tool.

      Hope you subscribe and keep in touch!



      1. Hi Sam, thanks for the reply! When we bought our house, it was more like 2.5X our income – we have come a long way in 5 years! I found your post through a random Google search for something like “average net worth for 30 year old.” And it was exactly on point! I will definitely check out Personal Capital – it looks like it has some features that aren’t offered by my current programs of choice: YNAB4 (which I like a whole lot for budgeting), (which I’m not a huge fan of but it serves a purpose), and the Morningstar Portfolio Manager (which is good but tedious to enter in data manually)… and of course my Excel spreadsheets, which you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead fingers. Thanks!

        1. Gotcha. Interesting this post comes up rather than several of my other posts. Maybe several of them come up and you just choice the one with married couples?

          Good stuff ramping up your income over the past five years. Temptations to upgrade your house?

      2. PS – and now that I’ve read through other parts of your site – in particular “Why Do People Like To Reveal Their Income?” – I feel like a bit of a jerk! I personally never ever talk to real people about our household income except my spouse and my dad. But the anonymity of the internet allows a nice break from the silence. Thanks again for the thought-provoking posts.

        1. Re: finding this post – to be more accurate I first landed on “The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person” through Google, and then clicked on the link in that post to get here.

          Definitely temptations to upgrade to a bigger house, but we realized that we don’t need any more right now. We’ve decided to hang onto it until our family grows so that we have a better idea of what we will actually need. Also, the improvements we’ve completed make me loath to let go of the place. I have a bathroom built exactly the way I want it and a custom front door with stained glass that I designed… things I’m just not gonna find in a new place, no matter how great it is.

          1. Cool. Being content with what you have is one of the greatest attributes for being wealthy. Enjoy your home for the long term! Now that the RE market has heated up, I’ve been wrestling with the temptation to sell. But u realize in 10 years I will be kicking myself that I did.

  132. Question: what data source are actual assets (vs planned assets) based on — where you then take the one standard deviation beyond the midpoint of the normal distribution curve (top 16%)?

    If I understand your logic, this analysis is based on planned asset values…correct? That is to say: if an individual saves, invests at certain amounts, then this is the PLANNED amount you should have.

    However, planned is not the same as ACTUAL. I am interested in what people are actually worth. From this, I want to take the one standard deviation beyond the midpoint of the normal distribution curve (top 16%). Does this make sense? I feel that this analysis is based on planned figures, not actuals.

    Financial net worth is relative. After all, if we are all millionaires, we are all poor…it is by how much more or less we are than the mean that measures our net worth…..and doing so by actual net worth asset values (vs planned), is what I’m after.

      1. Hi Sam,

        Well, i’m 35, just reached the 500k (self-employed, 250 in retirement, 250 in non retirement investable assets…still a renter (but have a small investment property))

        I like the site (if you google “average net worth”, guess what comes up).

        The fact that this topic is popular on here may serve you well if this was expanded a bit more (which you just did with the couples angle, but perhaps looking at other data sources to help quantify what people’s net worth is…and perhaps with respect to geography/cost of living…also how to maximize your relative net worth by moving to a low cost area — which I plan to do (abroad)!. Keep it up.

        1. Good to hear Google is working.

          I’ve taken a different approach if you read the average net worth for the above average person post.

          I reverse engineer how much a person (and now a couple) should have by various ages to give them the best chance possible at a financially comfortable retirement. It just so happens that the figures that I’ve calculated turn out to be much higher than the average and median net worth in America that lies anywhere between $100,000-$250,000 between ages 35-65 depending on which study you use.

          $100,000-$250,000 is NOT enough, which means the country is going to have a huge financial burden as we take care of more people who cannot fully take care of themselves. I hope this article really gets people thinking and motivated to save and invest more. There is no guarantee the government will continue to bail us out.

          Here are a couple other posts you might like:


  133. Kevin @ RewardBoost

    I guess I need to start making more money if I’m going to fit into this mold. I will also have to tell my stay at home fiancee to go get a high paying job.

    Sam, it surprises me that you are still in the old thinking that you need to save money for financial prosperity. The more progressive thinkers say you just need to generate income (ideally passive income) and you can retire at any age.

    I’ve stopped caring about my net worth, and I only care about building passive income.

      1. Write a book and collect royalties
        Get a rental property (…which puts your net worth up a notch.. hmm)
        Buy stock (wait, net worth again to generate any meaningful passive income)
        Own a business (and then your business has worth)
        Pension (because that’s dependable these days!)

        I think I see Sam’s point after wikipedia-ing the subject.

        1. Who me? i’ve read all your stuff here ^_^ I just wanted to see if there was some way besides having big money to generate passive income… turns out it’s all about writing books.

  134. Sorry I’m late to the party on this one, Sam. I was anxiously awaiting this post since you mentioned it a few weeks ago!

    We’re 30 and at $454K, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll surpass $479 easily this year, even if the market goes a little sideways or takes a couple steps down since we’re saving a lot of our take-home pay.

    That said, our split between asset categories (RE vs retirement accounts) is tilted more heavily toward real estate for now (~45%). But the big reason for that is because of when we got married and really started working as a team. It was in 2009 and RE was half price (or cheaper!) compared to historical trends. So we bought as much of it as we felt we could comfortably leverage at the time – it felt easier and safer to lever on RE than it would have to take leveraged bets on the stock market.

    But we expect the asset balance will level out over the next five years or so.

    1. Nice. Sounds like a layup getting to 479k for you guys for sure.
      These numbers aren’t an exact science by any means. They are rough guidance figures for those looking to achieve financial security by their 50s and 60s.

  135. My wife (31) and I (38) are on track but our mix of assets is skewed. We have pre-tax savings of $540K, after-tax savings of $825K, and property equity of only $20K to give us a net worth of $1,380,000. We are adding about $125K to our net worth every year primarily through after-tax savings. I think we need to diversify our asset mix to include more real estate. We could use a larger house but we are skittish about real estate due primarily to the increased monthly fixed expenses (higher utilities, water, property taxes, maintenance, etc.) and the increased leverage. Are we being too conservative? It would be nice to enjoy a nicer house but the increased costs really bother us. We like having the flexibility to live on less than we make. It keeps the stress of my job lower knowing that we don’t need the income to support our lifestyle.

    P. S. We really enjoyed the article!

  136. We’re close on the Pre-Tax Savings government side, but after that apparently we’re behind. Poor decisions in our 20’s left us behind, but we’re in the process of making up for it. Saving approximately 24% of our income now at this time and I actually hope to increase this if we can moving forward. Also, we’re working on a “side hustle” as Mike said.

  137. That’s a pretty nice asset allocation! I think it is important for both partners to try to work a decent enough paying job but also be aware of the fact that money needs to be earned through side hustles to be able to get things arranged accordingly. And it also takes financial discipline to set that money aside/investments.

  138. We’re just a little below your table for our age. And by a little, I mean a lot. And by a lot, I mean we have a negative net worth ATM. :)

    I have the pre and post-tax savings of the 23 year old couple, but my wife is 25, and I am 27. Our house dipped under, but I expect a recovery and a decent amount of equity in the next 5 years. The one problem is earning power. We are bringing in enough to pay our bills and put away 6% pre-tax savings, and that’s it at the moment.

    Mostly, I’ll be looking for ways to increase income even more to catch up to these figures. I really like them as a goal, and even if I get halfway there, I’ll feel pretty good at retirement time. My wife is at home, and I am working a few jobs, but she’ll be starting up a side business in the next year, and that’ll help the net worth/debt paydown/investing/saving for our household.

    Thanks for the in-depth analysis on this Sam, always fun and motivating to read.

  139. Monkeywheel

    Sam, what percentage of the US population would fall in to this chart for singles 25 an above do you think?

  140. Great job Sam! I think there is synergy when you meet the right person as well. It’s cheaper to live as a couple than 2 single people. The Financial Samurai method is almost as high as the double method. The pre-tax saving numbers are very big in your chart. I don’t think many people can meet that goal. Compare to your FS method chart, we are quite a bit behind in the pre tax category and ahead in the property.

    1. Thanks Joe. I hope readers see these charts as motivating to help them achieve their financial goals. The above average definition is those one standard deviation beyond the midpoint of the normal distribution curve.

      If I continue to stay retired, my pretax savings amounts will be much lower than my charts as well. However, my post tax savings amounts will be much higher so it all balances out.

  141. Pretty well right on for us as a dual-income family. I could see it being harder for people in an area with lower salaries, but then again, they have lower expenses as well.

    1. Good stuff. The expense point you point out is important. People who make higher salaries tend to live in higher cost of living areas. Therefore, a blanket federal income tax rate not based on zip code is hard for many. Then again, everybody has a choice to move around the country.

  142. I really liked this post. One thing I suggest is that all couples equally be aware of their finances. Relying on one person to do everything doesn’t work very well. If a couple is struggling with a lot of debt and only one person is aware, the other could end up causing a lot of damage spending recklessly and not putting any money towards saving and paying off debt. Knowing how to be in control of one’s financial situation is the first step to freedom.

    1. Teamwork is so key. I think it’s great to work together to build a healthy financial future and also work on one’a individual independent health. It’s a win for both, especially if a couple decides to stay together forever.


    I’m using your chart to measure our net worth progress, however we are heavily tilted in real estate. Here in Hawaii prices were similar to the Bay Area, it softened but didn’t drop much. The problem is we have rental properties that are many years away from being paid off, which doesn’t create a lot of passive income. The problem is our after tax savings are nowhere near your chart, I’m going to have to talk to the wife about not taking so many expensive vacations. By the way your city is my nemesis as the shopping is too enticing for the wife, the only reason why she stopped was the weight limit on the luggage. You forgot about the shopping tax.

    1. Charles,

      Great to year from you. It’s been a while. How are things in Oahu? Heard Japanese tourism is really picking up again. Are home prices in more prime spots inching higher?

      One of the cures to no longer buying expensive LV bags is to ask your wife to study LVMH’s income statement. The gross margins will shock her into never buying one again!



        Tourism is at a record pace. The growth has been from Korea and China. Prime
        areas of real estate are inching up with an expected increase of 3-5%. That’s
        a nice increase for your Kaimuki home.

        The only shock the wife has been through is that its been nearly a year and she
        hasn’t bought or visited a store.

  144. Nick, it’s hard to use my charts to assess where you are as a recent graduate. However, I would use them as benchmarks/goals as you get older. I’ve done a pretty deep analysis and I really think these figures are realistic for those who maximize their pretax retirement accounts and save even more over time. Things really start adding up!

    1. KevinInColorado

      Agreed, these figures are realistic (he says at age 51 with two kids about to graduate college). To do it, follow the advice here. You will be living much more frugally/sensibly an many around you but it’s worth the effort and discipline. The sense of freedom is amazing!

  145. What are you basing these numbers on? What percentage of couples are considered “above average?”

    For example, what % of couples have a net worth of $162,000 at age 25?

    1. Above average is quite subjective as it is based on my assumptions of the above average individual. However, by definition, above average in my book is anything more than 1 standard deviation above the normal distribution curve eg couples who perform better than 84% of other couples. If we talk 2 standard deviations than the definition tightens to better than 97.7% of the couples today.

      1. Shouldn’t your assumptions take in to account that the wealth distribution of the United States is not normally distributed, but is heavily right skewed, ie the ultra wealthy pull the average net worth of the population to the right, where as the median net worth is to the left of this value? A normally distributed distribution of wealth cannot be applied to the population of the United States.

      2. Just a data point to support your ‘two standard deviations’ math… the median net worth for the top 5% (so 97th percentile) of households age 40-49 in 2010 was $1.412M, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance… Not too far off the FS number for age 45… reality is these ‘above average’ numbers are pretty far above average (but still worth striving for).

  146. Marcus Lewis

    Well, we’re behind a little, my spouse was a stay at home Mom for 14 years, has an engineering degree and an MBA and is now a high school math teacher. I am an engineer by trade but now in manufacturing management. We’ve sent 2 kids to private college, they’ve incurred minimal debt <20k each, hopefully big earning years ahead for us, target retirement age 60, healthcare could be an issue.

    1. I’m impressed your wife has an engineering degree and an MBA. What was the reason for going through such intense schooling? I’m going to explore this topic of getting an advanced degree and retiring early in a future post and I’d love your insights. Thx

      1. Marcus Lewis


        We graduated in ’83 tough economic times (sound familiar) and moved to the gulf coast, where I had a job. She couldn’t find employment, so she returned to school to get her MBA, worked for a couple of years at IBM, then ” retired” to stay at home with kids until she got her teaching credentials through an alternative (no more degrees) program. She’s been teaching for 10 years now. Couples with a stay at home parent are not represented in your tables?

        1. Got it. Thanks for the insights. All three tables take into consideration one or two stay at home spouses, depending on level of net worth. If one spouse stays at home sooner and for longer, clearly they may be an adverse impact on the estimated net worth over time.

  147. I think you will find that your above average person is pretty rare. I am a little surprised about the post tax savings. Are you including a taxable brokerage account?

    BTW, the gender bias you mention in taxes is interesting. It could be a woman who is earning the $400K income and there is a stay at home dad or spouse. Just a thought!

    1. Indeed!

      You probably missed or did not understand where I wrote the reason for the gender bias. The government and its 12.5% increase in allocation for couples and the fact that the rules are predominantly made up by men in government.

      Downton Abbey, Larry.

      1. I think you are giving our legislators too much credit! Just look at the partisanship of the recent decade(s). Corporate policies get more scrutiny before enacted.

          1. Easy: The government is greedy. They are aware of the efficiencies of marriage and combined household, as well as the fact that most Americans are still religious/traditional enough to want to be married instead of simply live together, and have increased taxes on married couples accordingly.

            I threaten to divorce my husband every tax season. Now that we have enough kids we could both file as head of household and make bank on our returns.

  148. The First Million is the Hardest

    My g/f has zero interest in finance, yet she’s the one in our relationship who looks like she’s been following the FS method her whole life. I had to make one hell of a sales pitch to get her to see that she shouldn’t have the majority of her net worth in a savings account, but hey, noone’s perfect!

  149. Hey Sam….unless I read too fast, these charts appear to assume the couple is the same age roughly? Im 42 and my wife is 31, do I go off my age or halfway between our ages to find out where we should be?

    1. Good question. You can add up the individual persons net worth in the first chart as one solution. Or you can average out the ages/work experience to get a rough estimate as well. Good observation.

      1. This is what I did… My husband is only 2 years younger than me chronologically, but I graduated HS a year early and then was on the 3 year plan at College, while he was on the 5 year plan. So his working age is app. 4-5years “younger” than mine. When I add up his Average Net Worth and Mine based on our “working ages” and then adjust out for the cost of my MBA, you’re numbers are really on target.

  150. Howdy Sam,
    Love the idea, can’t say that we are even close to being where we should. That being said, do you think that the couple’s chart should have a variable for kids – since they suck money like the little adorable devils that they are? Not that a single person doesn’t have kids, but I guess this seems to presume a DINK lifestyle. For instance, we’d be saving $20K+ a year if we didn’t have to pay for childcare (and that’s cheap!). Just a thought.

    1. Good question. To account for potentially one spouse not working and for kids, the Government Taxation method and Financial Samurai method for calculating an above average couple’s net worth only increases the above average single person’s net worth by 15% and ~65% respectively.

      The Equality method is much more black and white (doubling of single person) to create a DINKS couple, but not necessarily as above average couples figure out how to save more in plans such as the 529 for their kids.

  151. Are these numbers still accurate after the housing bubble burst? My net worth would be so much better without having that millstone around my neck!

    And I’ll go nuts if I start talking about tax policy… sigh.

    1. Hi Mike – Yes, the article is reflecting my views of the above average couple post the housing collapse. I hear you loud and clear on housing being a drag. I’ve got one of my vacation/rental property as a drag, but things are recovering so keep the faith!

            1. I’d be really interested in hearing an update to these comments. The San Fransisco real estate market and most major cities have been on fire the last few years. How has your real estate portfolio doing now?

              Do you think it would still be a good idea to buy a property in SF at these prices or to invest in a REIT or eREIT instead?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *