How Does Your Wealth Compare?

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Depressing or eye-opening?

An online tool tells you where you stand financially by stacking up your net worth against other Americans.

The calculator compares a family’s net worth – financial and other assets minus debts – with all other U.S. families. Homeowners can choose to include the value of their home equity in their total net worth – or not.

Older people have had more time to accumulate wealth, so the rankings are based on the age of the household’s primary wage earner. The comparison is made with 2016 data from the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, which is the gold standard for personal financial data.

Since family – not individual – data are being compared, people who live alone are at a disadvantage. They will be measured against households with more than one person working and accumulating assets.

The calculator is on the DQYDJ financial blog written by a computer programmer and a financial professional. The validity of the results was confirmed by an economist formerly with the Center for Retirement Research, which sponsors this blog.

It might be fun to find out how you’re doing. But use this online tool at your own risk!

Squared Away writer Kim Blanton invites you to follow us on Twitter @SquaredAwayBC. To stay current on our blog, please join our free email list. You’ll receive just one email each week – with links to the two new posts for that week – when you sign up here.  This blog is supported by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Mike Mas.

Kim, I know the difference between average and median. As a fairly recent retiree, I’m above the median but below the average. My only takeaway is to wonder how much the 1% skews these numbers, but I also know there are those in my age group living in poverty. So, as a scorecard, I still don’t really know where I stand. Some interpretation of this info would be helpful and make it more interesting.

Kim Blanton Squared Away blogger

Mike – Because the highest incomes are so extraordinarily high – think Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos – they definitely pull up the averages. Average income is not, in economists’ view, a very useful measure.

The median is better for comparison. The median shows where a typical person or household falls in the ranking. So I’d definitely go with that comparison when assessing your own situation.

Thanks for the question.

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