The Top One Percent Net Worth Levels By Age Group

To have a top one percent net worth is an impressive achievement. Your net worth is literally higher than 99 percent of the population. However, what is a top one percent net worth amount exactly?

Further, it's probably more appropriate to shoot for a top one percent net worth by age, not the overall top one percent net worth of $11+ million. After all, it's not fair to compare your net worth at 25 to someone's net worth at 55.

By going with a top one percent net worth by age guide, you can better gauge how you are doing on your financial journey. Further, you'll likely be more motivated to keep on saving and investing.

After publishing, The Top 1% Income Levels By Age Groups, there were two main responses from the Financial Samurai community. Financial Samurai has been around since 2009 and caters to a mass affluent demographic.

  1. You are surprised how low the top one percent income levels are.
  2. It's not how much you make, but how much you keep.

However, the income levels are all the MINIMUM amounts you need to make in order to be classified in the top one percent. In other words, making $210,000 as a 32 year old puts you in the top one percent for your age group. So does making $350,000.

Thanks to economic growth and inflation, a top one percent income level for 2022 is now at least $470,000. The top one percent income level was only about $400,000 just in 2012. Don't be on the wrong side of inflation. Inflation is why you must consistently invest in stocks, real estate, and alternative assets over the long term.

The top one percent income of $470,000 can be individual income or household income. The income is reported income to the IRS, so there is a combination of both.

Top One Percent Net Worth Goal: 20X Gross Income

For most people, I recommend following my Net Worth Targets By Age, Income And Work Experience post if you want a challenging, but highly realistic guideline for wealth accumulation. You'll build a top 10 percent net worth by age.

The magic multiplier is 20X. Once you've accumulated 20X or more of your average gross income, you should have no problem planting the Financial Freedom flag in your backyard!

For those of you who like challenges, let me share my latest top one percent net worth targets by age. After all, the more you make, sometimes the easier it is to go crazy and spend all your money.

However, if you want to achieve a top one percent net worth by age, then you've got to shoot high.

Overall Top One Percent Net Worth Chart

Overall, a top one percent net worth amount in America is a little over $11,000,000. With this net worth figure in mind, we can construct a top one percent net worth guide by age.

You can shoot for a $11+ million net worth per person or per household. The estate tax exemption amount limit is currently $12.92 million per person in 2023.

My guide uses a top one percent income of $470,000 and my ideal income multiplier by age to calculate a top one percent net worth by age. By around 60, a top net worth for this age hits $9,400,000, vs the $11,000,000 overall top one percent net worth figure.

Top One Percent Net Worth By Age Chart

Top one percent net worth levels by age guide by Financial Samurai

1) A top one percent income for all age groups is about $470,000 in 2022 using data from the IRS, the Economic Policy Institute and The Washington Center For Equitable Growth. I use $470,000 for all ages starting at 25 to keep consistent with the overall median top one percent income figure for all tax returns.

2) The top one percent net worth figures are based on my latest net worth target income multiples. You certainly don't want to have an average level of finances in America because the average American is in poor financial shape. I believe most of us can achieve these income multiples if we meticulously track our net worth, invest our money wisely, and spend extra effort earning. One income stream is often not enough.

3) You have a belief that it's a waste of money to die with more than $12,920,000. In 2023, the estate tax exemption amount is $12,920,000 per person and double for a married couple. Allowing the government to tax you ~40% on any wealth above the exemption amount is a travesty. Please spend or donate your money to a worthy cause.

4) The median life expectancy of about 80. Hence, if you're fortunate enough to make $470,000+ a year and achieve an elite net worth level by age, come up with a plan to live a balanced lifestyle. You don't want to die with too much money. Instead, you want to enjoy your wealth to the maximum while living.

A Variation To The Top One Percent Net Worth By Age Guide

Here's a variation using the different income levels by age required to be in the top one percent as reported by Professors Guvenen, Kaplan, and Song and adjusted for inflation since their 2013 report.

It's unreasonable for a 25 year old or 30 year old to make $470,000. Therefore, it's good to look at income levels for each age group. The methodology below is a more precise. Wealth is correlated with age.

After the age of 65 and $11,750,000, it doesn't really matter what you do with your money. Again, just make sure you donate any money over the estate threshold to good causes so you don't pay a ~40% estate tax on anything over.

Top one percent net worth by age 2021

The above chart is the more precise chart to follow. Shoot to accumulate a net worth of $400,00 by 30, a net worth of $3,200,000 by 40, a net worth of $7,050,000 million by 50, and a net worth of $9,400,000 by 60.

Ultimately, all roads lead to Rome. Ideally, you want to build a net worth equal to about $11,750,000 by the time you are 65 and retired. The figure gels well with the estate tax threshold of $12,920,000 today.

Further, retiring with 10 million dollars in an ultra-low interest rate environment is a goal more households are aspiring to achieve. After all, $10 million can only generate ~$160,000 a year in risk-free income. If you take moderate risk, $10 million could achieve up to $400,000 a year in passive income.

Top One Percent Net Worth Chart Review

The more you make, the easier it should be to save and grow your money. You only need so much for food, clothing, transportation, and shelter. Everything else is discretionary, which means it's up to you to be disciplined.

If you make over $470,000 a year and can't save at least 30% of your gross income, then you've probably got a spending problem. Let's be honest. America has a spending problem.

There are certainly those who make top one percent income who are living with a lot of money stress. But such stress is largely self-induced. Lifestyle inflation is almost an inevitability once you start making big money. This is why paying yourself first is a must no matter how much you make.

What's nice about my 20X income gross income multiple is that it really doesn't matter how much you make to achieve financial independence. At each level of income, we will learn to live within our means. With a top one percent income, you've got a lot more flexibility.

If you choose to maintain a top one percent lifestyle, then $10,000,000 is a realistic net worth figure to shoot for. $10 million is the ideal net worth amount for retirement.

A $5,000,000 net worth is the #1 vote getter in the FU money poll, which asks how much money you think you need to feel financially free. But $5,000,000 is 50X the rough median income of 17,800+ entries in my income poll. People are actually overestimating how much money they really need to be financially free by a 30X multiple!

Since I left the work force in 2012, I've discovered I overestimated how much I would need in retirement by roughly 30%.

We have a tendency to overestimate what we need because we fear the unknown. We also forget that once we retire, we no longer need to save for retirement! Almost every other retiree has told me they also overestimated how much they needed.

Goals To Get You To The Top One Percent Net Worth

Whenever I lack motivation to grow my net worth, I like to jog around the Gold Coast of San Francisco. There lies the $20 – $50M mansions that line Pacific Avenue.

I know I'll probably never be able to afford such nice places overlooking the Bay. However, I still find inspiration in the success of others. Every single homeowner on the Gold Coast is an entrepreneur.

When you review my charts, I want you to get motivated as well. If you want to have be rich in America, your goals are simple:

1) Earn a top one percent income for your age.

2) Earn a overall top one percent income of $470,000 or more.

3) Amass wealth that is equal to 20X or greater your top average income

The math comes out to about $10 million per person. Once you're at $10 million, you will have achieved a rarified net worth level.

Favorite Ways To Build Wealth

The great thing about this net worth challenge is that there's a myriad of ways to get there. Here are my favorite ways to build wealth and get to a top one percent net worth.

1) Join a high-paying industry

Perhaps the easiest way to reach a top one percent net worth is to join an industry that pays well and be a top performer. If you want to be rich, logically, you'll choose a higher-paying industry. Once you've joined the industry, stick with the industry for at least 10 years. If you do, you will undoubtedly have a top one percent net worth for your age group.

2) Focus on building passive income

The most common way everyone can strive for a top one percent net worth is to aggressively save and invest in top passive income investments. Building an army of money soldiers who will grow in size through compounding is incredibly powerful. Earning your 10th one million dollars is much easier than earning your first million.

Further, passive investment income is taxed at a lower rate than W2 day job income. Therefore, you will build net worth more efficiency. In my opinion, buying rental properties, investing in real estate crowdfunding, and owning dividend stocks are the best way to achieve a top one percent net worth.

3) Start an online business

As we've learned from COVID-19, starting an online business that can't be shut down is a no-brainer. The key is to just start and figure things out as you go. Don't get caught up with needing an original idea. For example, I know one fella who made over $40,000 last month selling pool and hot tub supplies. AND he doesn't even own a pool or hot tub! The possibilities are endless.

4) Invest in real estate for more wealth

Every top one percent net worth person I know has a very healthy real estate portfolio. Real estate alone has made me millions since I started investing in 2003. I plan to continue investing in real estate to take advantage of a multi-decade positive demographic trend.

Check out Fundrise and their eREITs. eREITs give investors a way to diversify their real estate exposure with lower volatility compared to stocks. Income is completely passive and there is much less concentration risk. For most people, investing in a diversified eREIT is the best way to go.


If you are bullish on the demographic shift towards lower-cost and less densely populated areas of the country, check out CrowdStreet. CrowdStreet focuses on individual commercial real estate opportunities in 18-hour cities. For investors with a lot of capital, you can build your own best-of-the-best real estate portfolio. 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.

Both platforms are free to sign up and explore. I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding to earn income 100% passively. Further, I want to diversify into the heartland of America where valuations are cheaper and demographic trends are strong.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Dashboard

Keep Track Of Your Net Worth

Look, I know nobody needs to be rich. You can just as easily be happy with a median household income of $68,000 and a median household net worth of $120,000.

However, if you want a challenge, why not shoot for more? Achieving a top one percent net worth by age group is a good goal to have! Even if you don't get there, you'll get much farther than if you didn't push yourself.

So long as you are making progress, you will enjoy the journey. Never forget that money is simply a tool to lead a better life.

As you net worth grows, you need to stay on top of it. Wealthy people have more complicated net worths than the rest. The best ways to manage your wealth for free is by signing up with Empower.

Use their free tools to help build your net worth more easily. I've used Empower since 2012 and it's made a world of difference.

The Top One Percent Net Worth Levels By Age Group is a Financial Samurai original post. I've been writing about helping people achieve financial freedom since 2009.

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116 thoughts on “The Top One Percent Net Worth Levels By Age Group”

  1. Sam – does this not imply the 4% safe withdrawal rate (x25)? I thought you were using 80% of the 10 year treasury to calculate today’s safe withdrawal rate.


    1. Hi Josh – To clarify, what is this? The FS Safe Withdrawal Rate formula is indeed dynamic, and uses 80% of the 10-year treasury bond yield as an option to calculate.

      Given we are at around 4% for the 10-year, the FS SWR is 3.2%%.

      1. Thanks Sam, you have clarified for me. Because of your writing, I am using, as a broad brush, the 80% as my SWR. It is one of my checks on balances to feel comfortable with my lifestyle expenses against my retirement savings.

  2. Hi, just wanted to say I have enjoyed reading your blogs on wealth accumulation and savings over the years. My wife and I have been fortunate, both in top 1% income professional roles for 30 years, and we have saved 25% the entire time and invested in diversified stocks and bonds, plus some real estate. We have more than met our goals — your goal charts are spectacularly accurate BTW — so she has retired a bit early this year.I’m probably a few years out from early retirement myself.

  3. Hi very interesting as always. My question is that most net wealth build follows a more S-curve – aka it takes time for most to build and accumulate wealth. I would expect the net wealth increase between say age 55-60 to be more than say between age groups 40-45? As such my sense is that the top 1% for age 60 may be higher than your estimate? Also the top 1% for age say 35-45 will be lower than your estimate?

  4. OnePercenter

    Great guide.

    I am 31 and have a 3.2m liquid net worth, along with majority ownership in a business that has allowed me to live a luxurious life since a very young age (started my first business at 15, had my first 1M+ year at 20). My paper net worth is hard to estimate, but I like to be very, very conservative with my paper net worth so I’d say around 4. Around 7.2M total. For a few years between 26 and 28, our industry got flipped upside down, I lost a big chunk of my net worth, and had to really claw my way back and rebuild the company. It set me back, but like all things that set you back, they made me stronger and smarter in my approach. One income source is unacceptable.

    Wife is an attending physician (finally) and I have largely moved into a board role in pursuit of my next idea. Thus, we generate about $750k a year in income, with the majority of that passive. $750k is no where near my best years, but the stress level is 100x lower as the income sources are much, much, much more stable.

    I am now exploring my next big opportunity (and this time, I want to aim bigger and create a bigger impact in the world), and I have never been so uncertain about my path before. While I figure it out, life is good.

    Financial freedom is incredibly difficult and requires incredible intent/discipline everyday. You also need one hell of a stomach.

    1. Oh crap! These numbers are for individuals? Since my wife and I are unlikely to die at the same time, at least one of us can feel super rich for a period of time.

      1. Hi, new here, great blog and conversation. Q: are the net worth numbers in the tables for an individual in a household, or for a two partner household? 11M per individual is a high bar but I guess that’s why it’s the top 1%!

  5. Money Ronin

    Like many of your charts, I feel pretty good about my progress until I realize it is by individual and not family. I suppose my wife and I could take turns pretending we’re in the top 1%.

    My wife and I are fortunate to not have a lifestyle inflation problem. Our income took a nosedive when I was laid off in my early 40s. I never replaced my income because I was tired of paying the high taxes. Instead I focused on investing and wealth accumulation. I grew our net worth far faster than when I had a steady paycheck.

    It’s easy not to over spend when one’s income is relatively low and one’s wealth is tied up in capital appreciation.

  6. I don’t doubt these numbers about the 1% net worth levels by age are the truth but the Horatio Alger “work hard an achieve this” mentality about acheiving these numbers with a salaried job are ridiculous.

    How are the numbers achieved?
    1) inheritance/bank of mom and dad
    2) starting your own business

    Maybe there is the 1 in a million case of a salaried man plodding along to achieve these numbers by eating Top Raman and living alone in a 1 bedroom rent controlled apartment on a $450M salary but let’s be honest here, that’s a straight up myth.

    How do I know this? I analyze the financials of 1%ers all day long as a wealth management credit analyst for a major national bank.

    1. ALL my friends are in the top 5% and some in the 1%. None had significant inheritances. Most make < $300K/yr as a family. Everybody is relatively frugal but they drive luxury cars, take international vacations, etc. They spend but are not wasteful or overly indulgent.

      You haven’t met them because almost no one I know uses a wealth manager. I use an “advisor” (I use that term loosely) for very specific investments that I can’t buy directly. Even he is aware of only a fraction of my wealth.

      Your analysis contains flawed data.

  7. Givemeadvicetoo

    I will say I’m a 7 figure earner in my mid-late 40’s. Sam’s chart is spot on with the 13-15 multiple for my NW. I’m even a late starter as a physician, so I was still in training at age 25.

    That being said, I’m in the traditional peak earning years. The top 1% threshold earn way less than $470K at age 25, as well as 80+. So the multiplier is probably more accurate in the middle of the age scale.

    Also keep in mind when it comes to the top 1%, in the early years most of the net worth comes from income (heavily taxed) but in the later years (especially in retirement) a lot of it comes form asset appreciation and dividend (tax advantaged), perhaps most of it.

    So for the younger crowd, keep the faith. I built a growing business increasing in value, own few million in real estate that’s appreciating and producing dividends (lease income), have a few million in tax advanced retirement accounts appreciating. That’s a lot of extra above and beyond personal income and due to compounding we should all focus on a mental/visual of all the passive income that can be attained as we cut back our work hours in our later years and in our retirement. Don’t take your eye off the prize.

    Our financial futures may look opaque and fleeting in our younger years, but rest assured that with perseverance and wealth accumulation, that financial stability becomes more transparent and grounded.

  8. I think the charts are severely underestimating the required amounts to be in the top 1% for younger ages. Specifically, since the amount of time 25-year olds have to earn income is relatively short, family wealth probably plays an outsized role in determining the composition of the top 1%, not income. Consider what are probably the three richest classes among the top 1% by wealth at age 25:

    1) A 25-year entrepreneur who has hit it big. Startups are pretty bimodal in valuation, especially for young founders. Most are either just scraping by or have really hit the jackpot. Anyone who is an entrepreneur and in the top 1% by wealth at age 25 likely has way more than 250k in equity.

    2) A 25-year old from a wealthy family. They’re likely to receive gifts like an expensive car, an apartment, or a trust fund from parents/family. Each of these is likely to push them way past 250k when their income is factored in. I had a friend who received an 800k house from her father after graduation. While her father is around the top 3% by wealth for his age group, she is now leaps and bounds ahead of your 1% threshold, so your family doesn’t even need to be top 1% by wealth in order to push you into the top 1% by wealth at a young age by wealth transfer.

    3) A 25-year old who makes a really high income. These $250k+ jobs right out of college mostly go to kids from already upper middle class families and elite universities (which are populated mostly by kids from upper middle class families) since they have the trio of skills, credentials, and social capital to best capture these kinds of opportunities. Their families likely provided and are continuing to provide significant financial support, such as completely covering the cost of college and helping out with rent (or outright giving them an apartment/house/rental property, as with case 2). With 3 years of income after college, by 25 they should also have well over 250k in savings.

    Source: 25M who falls under case 3. Currently have more than .5M and I only averaged around 225k/yr since I took time off to work on a startup that didn’t pan out. While I don’t receive assistance from my parents, I do know others in my situation who do. And I’m probably not even in the top 1%: I don’t receive assistance from my parents, not sitting on huge familial wealth, and there are a decent chunk of tech/finance bros out there making 300-400k right out of college.

    1. At first glance, I thought the numbers were off and maybe they are slightly depending on where you reside. However, to Sam’s point he’s basing it off of his personal experience. Specifically, if you only look at his success within real estate his estimates would be lower just as his net worth, income, etc. if he didn’t leverage himself within the bay area. He’s looking through the lenses of someone who benefited from “right timing” in the “right location”, though some could say luck. For example, the appreciation levels in attractive global cities will never compare to those of other markets (Think 5X vs. 1.5X). I’ve experienced both, but more of the latter, but just like Sam I took risk. Rather be lucky than smart, but both work and leveraged risk is another ball game. Better to hear it from him than the privileged trust fund who starts on 3rd base.

  9. tokyorealestateman

    it looks like I m top 1 percenter in net worther but it feel like lots of net work. I don t feel like a 1 percenter. even now I still don t live big. corona frugality of recent months–hmm I been doing all my life. I really don’t want to be frugal any more. I just hope the economy can rebound to something normal.

  10. Our income is in the top 1% at 35. I believe these numbers are achievable. To be honest, if you’re not in the top 1% and don’t believe these numbers are achievable based on savings rate calculations after deducting tax and expenses…well there’s a reason why you’re not in the top 1%. Sorry just being honest.

  11. Sam – It should be adjusted for cost of living/location as well. You can live like royalty making $470K income and $3M net worth most places in the country except the cities that have jobs that actually pay that much. If you want highly rated schools and a 3,500 sq ft house in the Bay Area you are probably paying $3.0M+. $470K ain’t much when you have a $20K mortgage and pay a huge percentage of your income in state and federal taxes.

    You can live like a celebrity on the same income and net worth in places like Austin, SLC, or Vegas. Just because you have “1%” income doesn’t mean you even have a top 10% lifestyle compared to lower COL areas.

  12. Woohoo, I’m a 1%’er! Numbers are spot on again Sam, takes a lot of discipline, some luck, time, and a hell of lot of hard work to get to the club.

  13. As a radiologist I have had a top 1% income for over a decade but will not realistically have a shot at a 1% net worth ever. It’s not because I am a spender or not a saver. It’s mainly to do with the late start because of medicine, the high student debt accumulated because of medicine, and having a brutal divorce right before I turned 40 didn’t help either.

    Still, at the age of 49 I am over half of the net worth for the 50 yo group (not including primary residence which I’m not sure is included in these numbers anyway). For where I live and my burn rate it is probably already enough for me to retire now (although I am going to pad it some more because of the fear of the unknown you mentioned).

  14. A lot of folks being tough on these numbers. They feel realistic to me though. My personal situation looks like this.

    30 years old.
    Live in the Midwest.
    Spouse and I both have W2 jobs.
    Joint married income of 17% more than Sam’s suggestion for my age group.
    Net worth of 65% more than Sam’s suggestion for my age group.
    Saving 73% of net income.
    Saving 57% of gross income.
    Own 7 rental properties that we manage and a primary residence.
    Rental income annual return rate of 36% annually.
    Appreciation annual return rate of 28% annually.
    Retirement accounts return rate of 15% annually.

    I think the numbers that Sam presents may be achievable for us if we both kept working however, I’d much achieve Fat Fire and retire early!

    1. I wouldn’t expect anything less than a lot of dissatisfaction and opposition against these numbers. After all, only one percent of the population gets to a top one percent net worth amount.

      My hope is that people view these numbers as a guide and a motivation. But I know these numbers can feel defeating too

      The overall top 1% net worth amount is about $10,500,000. Therefore, these numbers are quite realistic by age.

      Don’t be average folks! Because the average American net worth is pitiful.

      1. Visitor28471i26

        The 25 net worth goal post seems reasonable for someone who graduated college without much debt or just worked earlier but once you get to 30+ it’s prolly closer to .5% or less as opposed to 1%.

        The income ones are pretty spot on imo, at least in NYC and SF.

        Still, nothing wrong with a stretch goal to avoid complacency though.

        If it wasn’t for the fact that nice real estate in nice cities (where all my friends are :( ) is all $1million plus, I probably would just become a bum and travel for a while.

      1. Our properties are spread across three counties in the greater Cincinnati area where we also live. My wife and I spend time everyday evaluating properties and looking at them using her real estate license. Our requirements for purchase are quite strict/high so it means a lot of consistent research and due diligence. Real estate commission contract negotiation and tax efficient operations as well as my wife’s ability to lease, manage properties, and the local maintenance network she has built has helped bolster returns.

        I’m a high income earner in the big data/IT field with a business degree and self-built financial and tax knowledge who has wanted to be financially free since day one of working so when we got married five years ago (we started dating/living our life together eleven years ago in college) we decided to build a real estate investment business. My wife pivoted her career from the liberal arts degree she had and got a real estate license. She is now a business manager for one of the largest property management firms in the area. It’s part of our everyday lives to do real estate now and date weekends to evaluate properties together are not uncommon.

        We earn outsized returns but we commit ourselves to it because we have common goals for ourselves and future family/children and would rather build semi-passive income over uses for our money.

  15. Thanks for the updated article Sam. I am in the top 1% per age on both metrics… I am in my mid-30s, $400K plus income and nearly 2.5 M net worth. I guess it is all relative, I live in NYC area and don’t feel like we have much. It’s not like we can buy a crazy house or retire anytime soon with kids. For me, despite being in the top 1%, just got to keep grinding. Not complaining though, very blessed all things considered

    1. Congrats! Yeah, it’s hard to feel rich living in places like NYC and SF, even with a top 1% income/net worth. But the good thing is, it’s real and you can save as much as possible while there and relocate to a lower cost area of the country once you’re done.

      1. Thanks Sam-You are right. Can always hit that exit and geo-arbitrage…seems like it will be some time for me and imagine the COLA gap will shrink dramatically when I actually do pull the trigger.

  16. I agree with some of the other commenters here about the most likely path to achieving these net worth targets: own your own business. You have to have a very high savings rate, luck out with market conditions and be really good at asset allocation in order to do this via wages (even if you are highly paid). My guess is that most people who achieve top 1% net worth have done it by owning controlling shares in a business.

  17. Patricia Studey

    My husband and I became rich by him working hard and me raising the family of 6 on a tight budget. Money doesn’t make you happy however financial security does. From day one of my husband working as a physician we put money into our investments. I recommend Fidelity, Schwab or Vanguard. They all have great on line tools to help you invest well. My other piece of advice is to shop on sale, buy used and do not drive or lease new cars. If you follow this advice you will be able to watch you wealth grow. My husband is now in his 60’s and works part time because he loves what he does and not because he has to. Last I would tell everyone to live debt free.

  18. Neil Hartner

    I agree with the previous commenter, the numbers here have a smell. How is it possible for someone in the top 1% at age 35 with income of $250,000 and net worth of $1,250,000 to have a net worth of $3,200,000 at age 40. Let’s do some basic math with the assumption that they can earn a very healthy 10% passive income on their net worth per year and their earnings grow 5% each year to reach $320,000 at age 40.

    Under these optimistic assumptions, they would need to save 75% of their pre-tax income every year! Here’s the math:
    Age 35: starting net worth $1,250,000 + $125.0K passive income + $187.5K savings
    Age 36: starting net worth $1,562,500 + $156.3K passive income + $196.9K savings
    Age 37: starting net worth $1,915,700 + $191.6K passive income + $206.7K savings
    Age 38: starting net worth $2,314,000 + $231.4K passive income + $217.1K savings
    Age 39: starting net worth $2,762,500 + $276.3K passive income + $227,9K savings
    Age 40: starting net worth $3,266,700

    Explain to me how it is even remotely possible to save 75% of your income after paying taxes and basic life needs like food and shelter. Taxes alone will wipe out 25%. Are these people homeless?!!! Somewhere your multipliers and extrapolations are off.

    1. I’m really sorry MI left that reply. Worse that it was approved for posting. I doubt this will make it through screening. But more and more this site seems less about education and discussion and more about snobbish economic signaling. The reply was not reasoned and didn’t add to the discussion and further not worthy of your analysis or genuine attempt to get a answer.

      1. It’s good to have a guide and know what to shoot for. I’ve used guides in fitness, tennis, income, savings, and wealth to help make progress. Even if you don’t get there, you will have gotten farther with a guide.

  19. Once again, while I love your blog, your estimates are WAY off.

    Your chart claims that if I make $400,000 at 25 with a net worth of $200,000 that I will grow my net worth to $800,000 which is almost mathmatically unachievable.

    Let me explain, at $400,000 you have to assume you keep 50% after taxes, life insurance, medical insurance, kids college, etc……

    So your take home pay is $200,000. Unless you want to live in the ghetto, your rent or mortgage will probably be $2500-$3000. So take $30,000 off the top. Now you’re at $170,000. Car, cell, internet, groceries, utilities, gas, clothes, other essentials needed to live are probably another $2000-$3000 a month. So now you’re down to $140,000 take home.

    You can’t be a hermit so you have travel, occasional dinner outings, hobbies, charity, etc…….. which is probably another $30,000 a year.

    You are left with $110,000. Even if you save every penny, you would be at $760,000. That’s assuming nothing changes in your life ever. No kids, no marriage, no job change, no health issues. Nothing can ever happen to you. Only at that point, with a constant increase in the market would you be at $800,000 net worth by 30. From there the numbers become even more ridiculous.

      1. No not at all. Only the 1% should be in the 1%. My age is 41 with a net worth of $2 mill.

        I just challenge the multipliers as most of the calculations don’t add up.

        Saving 50% of your gross income is not attainable. Saving 50% of your net income is amazing. But at $400,000 a year, even a savings rate of 50% of your net income won’t get you to a 20x multiplier in under 20 years.

        1. You need to earn more. Do not think just because u made the cut at 25 or 35 means, you will continue to so at 40 and 45. Others in the 1% may have ramped up way better than you…. Just a thought, no hard feelings.

          1. $470k is just the starting point of entering the top 1% income threshold, if you want to invest conservatively at that level you won’t hit the 1% NW threshold – you will either have to increase risk/leverage or earn more.

  20. How did you come about these numbers? I ask because although I hit the 1% income level, as with many people I didn’t stay there. And when I did make 1% income it was taxed heavily. This is why I reject the rhetoric that if you make high income you are rich. I could make $50K a yr and be rich, I could make $400k a year and be dead broke. ps, love your blog.

    1. I didn’t stay there either after I left Corporate America in 2012.

      It’s always been the case it’s not what you make, but what you keep. Here are two posts on how a $200,000 income earning family and $500,000 income earning family are just scraping by.

      The multipliers are based off first hand experience and careful analysis of what happens when you max out your 401K, save at least 20% of your after tax, after 401K earnings, grow your net worth by 10% a year, and build multiple income streams.

      Check out this post: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person

      1. STLinvestor

        Financial Samurai –
        I enjoy your blog and you do a great deed helping people achieve financial success.

        In regard to your last response your calculations are simply wrong. Your targets are unachievable unless a one-time non recurring significant financial event happens.

        Love your blog, but you’re simply wrong on your calculations.

        1. STLinvestor – That’s fine. No problem disagreeing. But instead of simply saying I’m wrong for what the top 1% net worth levels are by age, why don’t you share what you think is the right net worth amounts by age to help the readers?

          I’m open to hearing a sound argument. Everybody I’ve talked to in the 1% at various income groups have net worth levels similar to these amounts and actually skew much higher. If you’d like to write a guest post, I’d love to have it too! Thanks for your contribution.

  21. STLinvestor

    Ok, this is straight nonsense. Are most of you high?? I’m really surprised more people have not called out Financial Samurai for having completely inaccurate estimations of net worth by income and age. To say that someone at the age of 40 should have a 10 multiplier for their net worth is outright ridiculous. In his graph it shows that someone making $260,000 at the age of 40 should have a net worth of $2.6 million.

    Not sure what make-believe universe Financial Samurai lives in but that is an absurd multiplier.

    In his graph he is showing that a 25 years old generating $150,000 in income will amass $2.6 million in 15 years. Yeah RIGHT!

    Financial Samurai uses the example of a 25 year old earning $150,000 a year. After taxes of approximately 35% that persons take home pay would be $97,500. Assuming this person did not come from wealth it would be safe to assume that they would have $500 a month in student loans, so the new take home pay would be $91,500. Also, if you work at most corporations then you have to pay for part of your healthcare which is usually about $200 a month after tax if single which would now reduce your income to $89,100.

    Also, if you are being paid $150,000 right out of grad school, odds are you’re not living in Lincoln Nebraska but more likely in a major city. Making an assumption that this person would be extremely cost conscience, let’s say they decide to split an apartment with a friend. Even a modest apartment in a major city is roughly $2000 a month. So if you have rent of $1000 a month plus utilities of another $300 a month then your annual expense would be $15,600 which would now reduce your take home pay to $73500. And unless you want to be a social pariah it’s safe to assume that any 25 year old living in a major city will spend $750 a month for social outings such as dinner and happy hour so reduce your take-home pay by another $9000 which brings it down to $62,500. Now, I’m not advocating for living beyond your means, but unless you live in Silicon Valley where you can dress like a 16 year old mall rat to work this person would probably need to spend some money on clothes. Remember, in the corporate world you must dress for the position you want, not the position you have. It’s called “investing in yourself” and it begins with buying some good suits and business casual attire. Purchasing and routine dry cleaning would be an additional $500 a month (on average) so take another $6000 off of your take-home pay which is now $56,500. Let’s not forget about your cell phone bill of $100 a month, your car insurance and gas of $200 a month (assuming no car payment which is a bit silly but I’ll give it to you), groceries of $400 a month, one annual vacation of $2000, and miscellaneous expenses of another $250 a month and you’re at a grand total of $13,400 which brings your take-home pay to $43100.

    Now, don’t forget that as you age you have other expenses that come up, like marriage. Also, I’m sure that at some point between 25 and 40 you’d like to move to a house. As in most major cities, a house in a good school district will set you back about $625,000. I live in St. Louis and the average house in the best school district is about $700,000. So now your “rent” just went from $1000 a month to $3000 a month. Plus you had to pay to move and buy new furniture.

    Even if I used the math that Financial Samurai would have you believe is attainable and set aside 28% of their income this person would never even get to half of the estimated net worth! If this person saved 28% of their income ($43100 of $150,000 is 28%) over the next 15 years as their income grew from $150,000 to $260,000 then this person would have a cumulative savings of $771,000. Add the $75,000 this person started with and some growth in the equities market and this person would be close to $1,100,000. Maybe. And that’s assuming that after getting married and having kids had zero effect on their savings rate.

    So while I enjoy reading Financial Samurai’s blog and have gained a few good pieces of advice, I’d have to say his “net worth estimator” is a bunch of crap. He should probably do more research before his next “estimation” tool is released.

    1. Marijuana is legal in more states btw, so maybe we all are!

      May I ask how old you are and what your net worth is? I’ve found most people who disagree with my net worth targets are under 40 and have not come close to achieving my targets, and those who do agree and who have achieved or surpassed my targets tend to be over 40.

      Is it possible you are confusing these numbers being applicable to everyone, instead of the top one percent? Let us more about yourself. What should top one percent net worth amounts equal? I’m happy to review some good fashioned financial analysis and reasoning.

      Related: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person

      1. STLinvestor

        I’m 40 years old, earn above 1% income, and have a net worth of almost $1,700,000.

        I just think that if we are talking about “targets” then they should be levels that are attainable by most of the people in that specific category. I think your targets are unachievable unless the person lives a very very different lifestyle.

        I think those people that claim to have achieved those targets achieved it by an abnormal event, such as selling a business at its peak or an inheritance. And if that is the case, then those are one-time events and artificially inflate net worth for a few years but will eventually even out after several more years. For anyone who is working their way thru corporate America and investing aggressively they can attest that it is nearly impossible to achieve those targets through normal means.

        Don’t you think the multiplier should increase with age taking into consideration compounded interest and one-time events such as inheritance? That way, one would achieve the 10x multiplier by the time they retire versus only after 15 years of solid income. Otherwise, mathematically, the person used in the examples above would have to save over 50% of their gross income in order to achieve the targeted net worth by the age of 40. Highly unrealistic if you ask me.


        1. Again, this post tries to calculate the top one percent net worth levels by age group. Therefore, by definition, 99% of people will not reach these levels.

          If you earn a top 1% income for your age, that’s great! Now look to save more, because you can, invest more because you can, and perhaps leverage your money to generate more income.

          $1.7M for 40 is not bad. I encourage you to get motivated if you want to grow your wealth instead of try to bring the numbers down to fit your situation.

          1. LOL, ok I can’t resist,.. yah, stop thinking like a liberal. Yes, originally when I saw these numbers and my net worth didn’t match I did the same thing but after I thinking about it, then reading about upper income I realize what I was doing. Besides, I’m upper income and doing ok.

            I think we just put a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep doing better.

        2. Reading through the comments, and thought I’d chime in:

          45 yo, two physician household, three kids in public school, main house plus 2 investment properties in good rental areas. (1 of 3 is owned free and clear, others are mortgaged with >60% paid off). Couple of stupid lucky investments in Apple and Amazon early on…

          We do not own our business, and we are both glorified high wage earners, ie) we don’t work we don’t earn.

          Came out of training as the 2008 crash was recovering, so didn’t lose much of anything, and have had the good fortune to ride the Market wave almost nonstop. Lived like poor residents for 7 years of attending salaries, and stayed off the treadmill as long as possible.

          Current net worth: ~ $8,500,000.

          So, numbers are possible, but as others have said, takes either luck, inheritance, hard work, or your own successful business. But, you don’t need all those factors, and Sam’s numbers aren’t bogus….

          Thanks for the blog; I’ve enjoyed it and learned much over the years…

  22. I understand the idea of: do I really need more?

    However, I have a different mindset about this. I believe that it is my responsibility to make the world better. If I can make $100m by my 60s and then spend my retirement finding a way to use that money to make people’s lives better, I think it would be worthwhile and a good way to spend retirement.

    This all depends on your purpose or driving motivation in life. My primary motivation is to “flatten” the playing field; that is, to support a societal structure in the world where meritocracy is increased and spread so that even the unluckiest child in the world has a chance to grow out of this. I know I cannot achieve this but it is an internal fire that will not be put out, simply because I know my odds of success were 100% created by my parents choice to move here after I was born.

  23. For people who are interested in the top 1% wealth category, here are some of my rambling thoughts on this group, after spending a large amount of time with them:

    1- Net worth at higher levels becomes fuzzy. Mainly what happens is that you end up owning a lot of stake in private businesses usually (yours or others) and it can become extremely difficult to get exact values on those. Remember that many of these businesses are not liquid either, so it depends how much of a discount you want to apply to it, depending on the market climate. Right now, if you are a startup founder and you have 50% shares in a privately held company that just raised at a $25m cap, you are technically worth over $10m (on paper). If all you had was student debt, you would be 1% wealthy…although you may still be struggling to rent a place in Silicon Valley or Manhattan.

    2- Even if you arrive at a number, it is biased by your industry and the current economic cycle, because many these people are entrepreneurs and a lot of the asset side of the equation is in the form of non-public securities. Also, this varies by sector. For example, a $1m per yr net software business may be valued at $20m vs a medical practice valued at $3m. During the recessionary cycle, that $20m software business could go into the red and never recover.

    3- The 1% income group is different than the 1% wealth group. The 1% income group includes people with sales of property or business every year as well as several professionals and entrepreneurs. In NYC, for ex, it is extremely common for a married professional couple to break $400k per yr in their 30s or 40s. Very few of those people will break the $10m net worth barrier. In fact, because the lifestyles for families are expensive on the coasts, it is not uncommon for a family with that income to save $40-80k per yr. It’s hard to get to $10m that way.

    4- There is a lot of volatility in the top 1% income group as only about half of these people will stay in the top 1% for a decade, a lot of which is driven by entrepreneurs and those in finance and real estate.

    5- Given that so many top 1% income earners are unable to save enough and also that the group changes over time, what you will find in the top 1% wealth group are a lot of entrepreneurs and/or financiers, most of which had at least one large liquidity event or who are excellent at asset allocation. It’s reasonable to assume as you go from top 1% wealth to top 0.1% wealth to Forbes billionaires list, that the average compound return rate over decades goes up for the individual.

    The summary of all of this is that if you want to make it into the top 1% income group, you can just get a great degree and partner with someone and get a job in a large city and you will probably break into it. If you want to make top 1% wealth, you have to save significantly and you need to grow those savings at a greater than average rate (either inside the company or outside the company). You also need to be lucky in terms of the economic cycle.

    As a last note, the path to the top wealth levels is much easier by growing a business than anything else, imo, because you are basically thrown cash incentives to grow this via tax breaks and ultimately when you sell your business at multiples of earnings, you only pay capital gains.

    My overall perception in the US is that entering both of these groups (top 1% wealth and income) is achievable by many more people than realize it. I started as an immigrant and have achieved both at my age (late 30s). Even 5 yrs ago, I never would have believed this. Almost all of the individuals that I have met that are worth over $30m built their own fortunes as well and they all felt the same way once they made it – surprised!

    1. thanks for these points. it all makes sense, specially the last one. also an immigrant here and business is paying my bills. while i believe it will make me couple millions i would have to triplicate it to make 10 millions, which is doable. Then again, when i come here and other retire early posts it makes me feel why do i need 10 millions or 30 mill if I will not use it all. Anyone wants 30 millions but you have to work for it it wont be that easy, all i am saying is doable. Right now I am 28, i dont know how much money i be worth in 10 years but it has to be at least 2 to 3 millions. I prefer to hang the gloves early be semi retire for the rest of my life and maybe spend 50 to 100k a year from the passive income.

  24. FS – Not at the 1% by any stretch, however wanted to ask your opinion here for early retirement. Is if feasible for the following: We are a couple age 40/45 no kids, and our net worth (not including our home) is currently $1.45M – which includes real estate and savings/some stocks.
    If I am understanding your input correctly here, 20X our net annual spending to live (currently @$72k per year in California) takes to just about what we have currently with our net worth now, and that’s not including the home. Can we retire now?? We have thought about selling our CA. home and paying off a home in another state in cash, eliminating a mortgage which would take our monthly spending down. Also we plan to internationally travel for 2-5 years abroad in Europe/SE Asia, so I estimate our monthly money needs during that time would be less. We will also start to get roughly $2200-2600 per month in rental income end of this year as well. Can we do it? Or better to wait a couple more years – ultimate goal would be to be worth $2M but is that overshooting? Thanks love your website!

    1. financial independence means that your properties, equities should pay for your lifestyle. so, overseas you will spend a lot less than in usa which means that $ 2000 should be enough, if you will make $4000 you can live plenty! even in the states. now, if you are planning to be outside usa for 2 to 3 years in a row why not rent or buy a cheaper home in usa and then rent it out (with management companies) then again in 15 to 20 years the social may kick in for extra spending. if your home is worth more than 500k you need to liquidate and put that money into work otherwise you will have only 1 million invested. reality is with your income and that networth means that you have saved a lot and know how to manage it, cheers.

  25. Cash Flow Celt

    While reading this article I was thinking “Man, $8,000,000 doesn’t seem unmanageable – just difficult” and after I read it it occurred to me this was the top 1%. Meaning, statistically, it isn’t going to happen.

    That only lit the fire. I’m currently making pennies, but I’ve got the knowledge and desire to make my own way. That’s why I started my own blog and a consulting gig, along with looking for business ventures to join.

    I’m like you Sam, seeing someone with more than me just makes me work harder. That’s why I keep those homes and lifestyles on my favorites list. I work a lot, but I schedule family time and I schedule “me” time. It’s just the necessity of life now and days.

  26. So often times I see people file jointly would those 1% and 0.1% numbers include the jointly filed returns or how can we be sure those are all just a single person’s income? Just curious how that works. Either way aiming to get there one day! Just wanted some perspective.

  27. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes

    Well, I was never in the top 1% of income earners, but I feel pretty good about becoming financially independent at age 38.

    That said, we don’t live in California, so our taxes and cost of living are also lower.

  28. Ace Apichard

    Referring to your variation chart. Shouldn’t you want to decrease your net worth (from spending) as you age tho? I mean, who wants to die with that much money to leave behind? 5 Million to your kids seems crazy too me. Come on, live a little!!!

    1. Yes. Decrease from $8M+ to $5-6M to avoid the 50% estate tax.

      You don’t have to leave all $5-6M to your kids. Leave it to charities and other great organizations you believe in.

  29. I’m not your target market, but I really appreciate your posts. They are clear and inspiring. I’m glad your retirement includes educating me.

  30. we make 200k at 28, we also may sell the business soon for 1.1 mill, while i am at 500k networth we may just pass the mill and half if the sale goes through, crossing my fingers here. selling would save me 7 more years of work..

      1. I was feeling very tired because of all the hassles, the paperwork, getting audited (and won), so I was thinking about selling my business. I remember reading “never sell your cash cow” (I think it was at financialsamural?) and I thought, very true, so I decided against it and have now invested in infrastructure.

  31. Sam,
    I’m more blessed than I realize with an income of $500,000, and massive amounts of depreciation, do you think it’s immoral to accept free healthcare.

      1. I am on the front end of depreciation, that allows me to show no income, while having a year where I made a substantial amount of money. My accountant said that the ACA subsidy is based on AGI and I qualify for a 100 percent subsidy.

  32. Brian - Rental Mindset

    Good to know I’m not in the 1% club. Now I can blame all my problems on them…

  33. Getting To One Million

    I need 46,000 each year before taxes to have 36,000 each year to live on in California according to That is my goal. So I’m over half way there with a networth right now of 462,658 (46,000 X 20 = 920,000) but I’m trying for 1 million and will keep working and saving until age 60 when I can start withdrawing from my IRA and 401k. I only make $71,000 before taxes each year so it will take me longer and I don’t want a second job or a roommate.

    1. Good job on the planning! Just make sure to account for inflation if you haven’t so you’re properly prepared! GL!

  34. Life stages also come into play, but I’m not expecting to be in the top 1% any time soon…

    As a sole bread winner while my wife cares for our children, I’m proud enough that we can live in Silicon Valley as a single income family and still keep the net worth number moving in the right direction.

  35. When you completely give up your career, you would want to be conservative. After a year off, you won’t have too much issue getting back in. But if you realize after 5 years that you weren’t quite FI, then you are going to have a difficult time getting back into your former career level.

    I am aiming for 25x – 30x my current annual spend, to be FIRE. I am top 1% by the Guvenen, Kaplan, and Song list at 35, but will need to work until about 40 to be comfortably FIRE.

  36. Sam I would be very curious to see what the 1% save out of that 380 ish salary per year. For example I make 120k per year and save (post tax) 60k per year after all taxes and personal expenses. The same person making 380 a year with a family of 4 and and huge home could be saving very little. Do you have any stats on that?

  37. Great insights! I believe what you said that there are 1%’ers out there who have financial stress but that it’s self-inflicted. I remember watching TV specials on that couple who are trying to build their own “Versaille” and all the troubles they’ve run into. Talk about excess – that development project is totally self-inflicted financial stress.

    Getting rich and staying rich takes discipline and being smart with your money. Hard work and avoiding lifestyle inflation makes a big difference on being able to accumulate mega bucks and not lose them.

  38. I’m assuming your 20X multiplier is on gross income, which would be pretty conservative. Your bloggy colleagues, including one with a top 1% income that likes to ride bikes, like to use a 25X multiplier, except on expenses.

    With a 50% savings rate:
    $100k salary – Sam says $2 million
    $100k salary – Bike Dude says $1.25 million

    Big difference. If the savings rate is even higher, then the difference gets even larger and your 20X multiplier gets even more conservative. What do you consider an ideal savings rate in conjunction with your 20X income multiplier?

    1. My 20X multiplier in gross income keeps things simple and allows the multiple to be easily compared across industries, countries, and job functions. It assumes people don’t spend more than they make.

      The main difference between Bike Dude and I is that I don’t try to convince people to live off very little in order to make huge money from my site. I’m much more focused on growing our income, which is more challenging to write about, but it’s more fun for me. Do his readers realize the large sum of money he’s been making for years now?

  39. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    Wow. I voted in both of your surveys. Your readers are definitely high earners and high net worth individuals. What a good audience to have. :-)

  40. The income is so steady. Is that realistic? I wonder if the 1% has up and down income. I assume most of them are business owners.
    The net worth looks okay to me. I think at this level, each person’s finance would vary quite a bit. It all depends on how much they save and invest.

    1. I’m just using the reported overall top 1% income by the IRS and rounding up from $380,000 to $400,000 due to inflation as the income is several years old. $400,000 becomes an income to shoot for during the younger ages and more of a minimum income to maintain for the older ages.

      There’s a second chart that incorporates variable top 1% income by age using the same income multiplier for readers to review.

      1. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes

        I read somewhere that only a few top 1% of income earners don’t maintain that spot year after year. Unfortunately I can’t find the source anymore.

    2. The people in the 1% will change year to year. Some people sell a business and jump up a bunch. Others have a bad year and income drops 20%.(construction businesses shrink 2009-2011) The aggregate numbers won’t change a lot year to year but even those change some based on the economy.

      Year Number(K) Lowest Second Third Fourth Top 5%
      2014 124,587. 21,432 41,186 68,212 112,262 206,568
      2013 (39) 123,931 21,000 41,035 67,200 110,232 205,128
      2013 (38) 122,952 20,900 40,187 65,501 105,910 196,000
      2012 122,459. 20,599 39,764 64,582 104,096 191,156
      2011 121,084. 20,262 38,520 62,434 101,582 186,000
      2010 119,927. 20,000 38,000 61,500 100,029 180,485
      2009 117,538. 20,453 38,550 61,801 100,000+ 180,001
      2008 117,181. 20,712 39,000 62,725 100,240 180,000
      2007 116,783. 20,291 39,100 62,000 100,000+ 177,000
      2006 116,011. 20,035 37,774 60,000 97,032 174,012
      2005 114,384. 19,178 36,000 57,660 91,705 166,000
      2004 (35) 113,343 18,486 34,675 55,230 88,002 157,152

    3. I just answered your question before reading it. Yes, people move in and out of the 1% all the time. That’s why when people falsely claim high income means you are rich, it angers me because it is not true. High income does not mean you are rich.

      Our progressive tax system makes it harder to build wealth. If you get a raise, or work a 2nd job for extra income, if your business is successful government wants a bigger piece of the upper income (as if they dictate that you made enough money). In the end,

      – it’s how much time
      – how much government allows you to keep,
      – how much you keep by not spending,
      – and successful investing

      that makes a difference

  41. FinanceSuperhero

    “But such stress is largely self-inflicted. Lifestyle inflation is almost an inevitability once you start making big money. This is why paying yourself first is a must no matter how much you make.”

    I would like to poke and prod this for a moment. I agree that financial stress is largely self-inflicted for high income earners, and often lower-income earners, for that matter. Where I disagree is the inevitability of lifestyle inflation once one becomes a high-income earner. As you have written so eloquently in the past, Sam, lifestyle inflation is primarily motivated by vanity, keeping up with the Joneses, and laziness.

    Perhaps other readers can comment from their own experience – I am solidly in the middle/upper-middle class by earnings alone – but I imagine that to a certain extent, most of us already live vastly inflated lifestyles as it is. If my income went up by $100k per year overnight, I don’t think my lifestyle would change much, if at all. Am I just weird?

    1. It’s hard to know until it happens. Have you had a large $100K jump in income before, or surpassed $400,000 in annual income? Things start looking less expensive the more you make, and spending becomes easier as a result.

      It’s kind of like folks underestimating their risk tolerance. Only until they go through a huge downturn do they realize…. hmmm, maybe my risk tolerance isn’t a 7-8/10, but more like a 5.

      And finally, it’s kind of like gaining weight since high school. We go the path of least resistance. It gets harder and harder to stay in tip top shape b/c it’s no longer necessary.

    2. Did you ever think to yourself if you came into money what would you do? I did….

      I am high income (was higher) but when I made much lower income I wondered what I would do if I came into money. Then it happened, I started a business and it became successful. Before I could enjoy it and since I took out personal loans I paid down debt and built a business emergency fund. Then I built my personal emergency fund, paid off the house, contributed max to my 401k and built a post tax retirement fund. Since my customers are upper income I did have to spend some money to up my lifestyle but while not on business my lifestyle has not changed much from my previous life.

      I do have to say one thing,… I was “shocked” how much I had to pay in taxes. It felt like a kick in the stomach and I stopped working so hard, stopped re-investing and hoarded. Thank god I did, business naturally slowed down some but I enjoy life more. Some day I’ll be able to relax I guess, but at my age, I know I won’t get help in my elderly years so it’s up to me to make sure I can pay my way.

  42. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    “The more you make, the easier it should be to save and grow your money.” I think high earners have a HARDER time saving than those earning less. This is because they are surrounded by other high earners who spend, spend, spend!

    Once you buy one nice thing, you need to replace other items in your life so that everything can match your new found level of luxury. It is easier to suppress the first desire than satisfy all that follow.

    Another trap high earners fall into is expecting their earnings will ALWAYS be high. They think they can save down the road, only after they’ve picked up the luxury car, luxury house & luxury vacations. Then the market for their business goes belly up and they have nothing to show for a decade of high earnings.

    As you put it, if you can’t save 30% at 400k, then there’s a spending problem. Luckily for us, the IRS and the economy loves high earners who spend the vast majority of their money on taxes and on consumption.

    I didn’t want this comment to be too long, but thanks for writing on the 20x expense savings and your experience talking with other early retirees. I’m 27 now and expecting to hit FI at 35. Similar to yourself and your other examples, I’m essentially overestimating how much we need because of that fear of the unknown. Realistically, FI at 32 is feasible and sound for us, yet much more scary.

    1. Yes, it is better to be safer than sorry. I use a 20X multiplier on gross income to be more conservative. And when you get to 32, it will come sooner than you expect, and I think you’ll happily work to 35 just to shore up extra funds. It’s not that old at all.

      When you know the end is near, it’s easier to just push on through.

      Check out:

      Overcoming The One More Year Syndrome To Do Something New – This syndrome is one of the toughest things to break when you’ve hit your number. B/c just one more year will mean X more dollars. And when you only have to do one more year of something, it’s easy!

      It’s Impossible To Stay Retired Once You Retire Early – Another interesting bit of insight once you get there.

      1. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

        It is nice to see you were still challenged to do work shortly after pulling the plug in finance. I’ve seen you mention that a few times, but I haven’t seen it broken out in such detail before. Thanks for the links!

    2. Smart Money MD

      If you drive around SoCal on the 101 or 405 on nearly any given day, you’d get sick of seeing so many Teslas, BMW’s, Maseratis, Mercs, and the less common but not rare Lambo. I would venture a guess that many of those proud owners are not meeting Sam’s 10% rule. I’ve been tempted to fit into the crowd, but with that type of luxury to compete with I don’t think I’d feel special unless I’m in a Bentley!

      1. Debra Damari

        Yes I drive those roads and wonder if most of those cars represent the occupants’ entire net worth? I am motivated by such beautiful cars and homes to work harder.

  43. Dr.J @ MedSchool Financial

    Inspiration from various sources always, and getting to experience some of those other aspects even if just vicariously lets you see whats out there and broadens your growth mindset. Although, i’ll drive the Honda till the wheels fall off, its still fun to go to auto shows and see the next generation of concept cars or like you did same take a jog with a motivating environment. Its even inspiring to read how some entrepreneurs are able to give back because of those achievements as well, a lot of good can come from building value.

  44. Vistahermosa

    Awesome post! The net worth numbers are a stretch. 46 — $800k income – $ 3.7 million net worth. Making 1% income since 2008. 1 divorce, 2 kids.

  45. MrFireStation

    This is great information that I haven’t seen published anywhere before – thanks for sharing it. When I look at the table, I feel good about our decision to early retire at 49 years old 4 weeks ago. This shows top 1% net worth for the US, I imagine by global standards the top 1% would be much lower.

  46. Dividendsdownunder

    Fair play to the handful of your readers who are multi millionaires.

    I suppose what your results say are that everyone aspires to be richer because they think they will be happier. But perhaps they will always want to richer, and happiness will just be out of reach.

    Maybe if people couldn’t see how other people lived (seeing celebrities with cars, holidays, houses etc) then they wouldn’t feel the need so much, to need and want a lot more than they have. Maybe people would be a lot happier and not spend money trying to look like they have achieved a type of lifestyle when they can’t actually afford it.


    1. Tristan,

      Not everyone wants to have a lavish life with luxury cars and mansions.

      I myself just take pride in it as it’s a tangible way of saying that you “accomplished” something. At work I get paid more and it makes me feel more important, respected, accomplished.

      I’m trying to get rich in order to buy free time, not things.


    2. Tristan,

      My guess is that the vast amount of multimillionaires are not as you describe. I would guess the majority of them do not desire the “fancy” lifestyle. They are the small business owners or professionals who do make a good income but since they do not desire the material things most people view multimillionaires as having they save and invest. Multiply their savings and investments over a extended period of time and wala, their a multimillionaire.

      Take Sam, for example. If you ran into him at your local tennis club pulling up in his Honda Fit would you guess he’s a multimillionaire? Probably not. On the flip side, the guy who pulls in with his new BMW and designer clothes could be in debt up to his eyeballs.

      The celebrities people see with all the flash are the exception, not the rule.

      Best of luck, Bill

  47. The Green Swan

    I’d say there’s definitely a level of motivation here. But I would also estimate the magic multiplier to be more like 25x or even higher to be more conservative. Especially if you are retiring early, that means you have a lot of years to be supported on by the investments, so you won’t more cushion because more crazy stuff could happen in the longer retirement.

    1. 25x expenses, but you probably only need 20x income. (Comes from the classic assumption that in retirement people’s expenses are 80% pre-retirement income)

  48. Apathy Ends

    I am no where near this chart but it is still interesting to see where the top income earners should track.

    I do think it is easier to save as income grows as long as your lifestyle does not grow with it. If I was making that kind of money I would not be working very long (at least that is what I like to think)

    Nice Monday morning motivation

    1. LOL Apathy Ends. I remember when I used to work a W2 job and thinking the same thing as you… “If I made that kind of money I wouldn’t be working very long”. One good thing about getting a late start is by the time you get to that point, at least for me, I was looking for a way out of W2 income. Fortunately for me, instead of growing my lifestyle with my income I saved hard also learned and do invest. My driving force was to never, ever have to go back to working in a hospital ever again… EVER! I think to have a strong driving force like that is important for success. Now that I’ve become kind of disincentives, although I still work but not nearly as much, I am used to living on less like I always did (well maybe a splurge on vacation every year) if I had to I could squeak by now without ever having to go back to healthcare, EVER :) The longer I wait, the better though.

  49. PhysicianOnFIRE

    Do those $20 million dollar mansions really motivate you, Sam? I don’t have the Gold Coast down the road, but when I see ostentatious displays of wealth, I’m a bit demotivated.

    There’s a salary ceiling in medicine. Don’t get me wrong, we make good money but with a late start, school debt and very few (specialists / business owners / not me) making $1 million a year or more, the Minecraft guy’s mansion isn’t a remote possibility.

    That being said, I’ve realized I don’t want his mansion, and I’ll be happier buying time with an early exit in my forties than working until I’m in my sixties so I can call myself a decamillionaire. I could continue working day and night and probably catch up to your 1 percenters in my fifties, but I’m getting closer and closer to having my definition of Enough.


    1. Bro,
      There is no limit in medicine. The model has shifted. Before, you graduate me expect to open your own practice. Sometimes, expand that to be a clinic,mother small hospital, then big hospital. Nowadays, you feel there is a “ceiling” because you work for the big man. :)

      It’s true with any other profession, you almost never “get Rich” working for somebody, owning a business is the way to beat the ceiling effect. :)

      I personally work for the “big man”, but to boost my income, I turn to real estate. Double my take home income by just having a side business. I don’t want to expand, as I don’t think my quality of life would improve with more income and more work. There is always a trade off, I’d rather have more time, live a bit frugally, but enjoy fully.

      “You work to earn money, but you can’t use money buy back your healthy and youthful time”. What’s the point?

      1. PhysicianOnFIRE

        Many of the independent practices (business owners) found themselves spending more and more on overhead, trying to keep up with increasing regulations and bureaucracies. Which is why there’s been a shift to hospital / health system employment and consolidation of groups into multistate corporations.

        Of course, the CEOs and owners of the health systems and the founders of the corporations are 0.1%ers, but the vast majority of physicians are highly-paid, hard-working blue collar workers.

        Good for you for doubling your income with RE. I’m with you on living relatively frugally and valuing time over money.

        1. Smart Money MD

          I agree with POF that there is a ceiling on practicing medicine. As Vivianne said, you really have to expand outside of your primary medical profession to really rake in the dough.

          One of the issues is that depending on what medical specialty you belong in, you might not have the luxury of time to double your income outside field without making big sacrifices of time. Most of us doctors don’t realize that until we finish our training at start working.

    2. Absolutely. I love architecture and design. They give me inspiration on what to do with my own humble abode. I’m also looking for landscaping ideas as well.

      One of the beautiful things about San Francisco are our old Victorians, Edwardians, and Art Deco homes. I love going to Europe for their architecture as well.

      If I can combine exercise with something else, like architecture, while gaining inspiration, that’s a win. I don’t need or want a mansion. I’ve already written about how I’ve downsized / rightsized and it feels great!

      I just enjoy getting injecting w/ motivation on what COULD be if I tried. I’m inspired by other people’s success. I’m also inspired by other people’s work ethic.

      1. Physician On FIRE

        OK, that makes perfect sense to me. I’m a big fan of the mid-century modern and just plain modern homes. Art deco is right up my alley, too. One can certainly appreciate and admire the mansion without wanting one as his own.

        I’ll be in San Francisco for about 5 days later this month. I’ll have to pack my running shoes!

          1. PhysicianOnFIRE

            Thanks for the advice – and we will! Except for the last part. We don’t allow our boys to use potty language, and we try to lead by example. :)


      2. Debra Damari

        I also love architecture and design so opened a construction company in Los Angeles. Enjoy your newsletter and I too get motivated when I see all the amazing houses here in Brentwood.

    3. Physician, I get what you are talking about. I also had a late start. I own a small business and while the business did well and I made good money it was a kick in the stomach to have to pay so much in taxes. And to people who love giving their hard earned money away, yes I understand that we must pay taxes but the amount we pay certainly takes the incentive away.

      Since so much is taken I’ve changed my attitude. I am no longer interested risking my money and spending so much time to grow the business (which would have led to having to hire more employee’s and lots more paperwork). Forget the money. Since they say I make enough and they can take the rest, I went with it… I work less now. Time is more valuable to me now.

  50. Ramona @ Personal Finance Today

    Probably between 200K and 300K – we have no debt right now, we have 2 apartments (inherited from our folks), 2 cars (one’s a beater, one’s in a better condition) and a profitable business. It’s true I live in Romania, so our wages here are way smaller. Let’s say that the ‘average’ Romanian here makes about 250-300 bucks/month, so we’re actually doing way better than it might look

    1. I haven’t read all the comments but these numbers are absolutely achievable if you own a successful business and sell the business for a healthy amount. I owned a business selling hearing aids of all things and because I started it in a remote, northern Canadian city where demand was high for our services and competition (ie other professionals) was low as most were not willing to relocate and live here, we became quite successful over the 23 years I owned it. After selling the business for $5M last year, our net worth jumped to the 1% threshold for 65 year olds even though I was 48. For wage earners, it would be quite difficult to achieve these numbers, as your boss will always try paying the least amount possible to its staff and there’s no pot of gold at the end from selling the value (equity) in the business. But as Sam says, it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep, and I’ve always believed to be wealthy you have to play both great offense AND great defense, and control spending. It was a game for me for many years to see how low I could drive my expenses, even to the point of taking home toilet paper from hotels I stayed at! Embarrassing now, but it was this kind of focus that paid huge dividends when our income started driving higher. And of course, luck played perhaps the biggest role. I was always paranoid someone else would open a competing clinic and drive our profitability down, but it never happened and now with the virus shutting the clinic down (I’m still consulting 3 days/week for enjoyment) for 3 Mo’s and sales down 30% even since we re-opened, I feel blessed we sold last year. So, if the option exists in your chosen field, strongly consider opening your own business in a good market with limited competition (perhaps where other professionals might not find it attractive but you can see the potential), work your arse off and sell your business in your late forties so you have the health to enjoy the fruits of your labour is the best advice I could offer. Thanks Sam, I enjoy your site immensely, keep up the good work!

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