Most of us have come across the concept of net worth in some context. More than likely, it’s been in reference to some celebrity and their net worth of a million or even a billion dollars. For the majority of us, these figures are unfathomable. However, net worth is commonly misunderstood and can be misleading. Instead of reflecting the amount of money in the individual’s personal bank account, net worth refers to the overall value of that person’s assets, while considering any debts or liabilities.
Comparing your own net worth to that of celebrities or global entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerburg or Oprah Winfrey is unlikely to be helpful or encouraging. But it can be helpful to have a solid understanding of your own net worth and how it compares to those around you. You can do that by looking at the average net worth by age.
Here you will find information on how to calculate your own net worth, and how it matches up to your peers.
What is Net Worth?
An individual’s net worth is the value of any non-financial or financial assets they own, minus any debts or financial liabilities. Net worth won’t generally reflect the sum of money in a person’s bank account, but it is widely considered as more relevant or of higher importance than yearly income or salary. This is because net worth gives a well-rounded view of your financial situation. If you’re making the effort to put away extra savings or pay off remaining student loans, this will all be reflected in your net worth.
While you should try not to get caught up on the net worth of your peers or colleagues, it can be helpful to know roughly where you should fall in terms of your net worth based on your age. It’s great to use this as a benchmark or goal for your own financial growth.
It’s important to remember though that there are many variables that can significantly impact an individual’s net worth. Someone who has recently bought a home for $450,000 and hasn’t made many mortgage payments yet may have a significantly lower net worth than someone who has inherited a house worth $200,000, regardless of who earns a higher annual salary.
If you’re looking to improve your credit score, save for a house, pay for your child’s college tuition, or reduce overall debts, you need to have an awareness of your net worth and the net worth of those in similar situations. Not only does this give you a better understanding of your own spending and finances, but it also provides attainable, realistic financial targets for you and your household.
How to Calculate Your Own Net Worth
Calculating your own net worth is fairly straight forward. Simply use the following formula:
Value of Assets – Total of Debts = Net Worth
Assets refer to both financial and non-financial equity. This might include the value of your home, cash, investments, and anything else of significant value such as cars and so on.
Debts cover any liabilities you currently have. This includes your mortgage, student debts, any credit card debts, medical bills, or other personal loans.
Once you have established each of these figures, working out your net worth is quick and easy. There are also a number of online calculators you can use to determine your net worth. For a more detailed look at this topic, please see my article How to Calculate Your Net Worth.
Is Net Worth Important?
Understanding your own net worth is important and can be extremely useful when looking to improve your financial situation. It allows you to acknowledge where you may be over-spending and means you are able to reflect on your current liabilities before making further purchases or taking out loans or credit agreements.
Currently, many of us are likely to be experiencing some level of uncertainty and instability (2020 has been a rough year), so having a good awareness of your finances is more important than ever. You might be considering ways to reduce current debts, or selling non-financial assets. Either way, to do this you must first look at your net worth or liquid net worth as a whole and establish where you may be able to make changes and in turn improve your financial situation.
With that being said, net worth does not always give an accurate representation of someone’s living situation or overall quality of life. You may have an expensive home which boosts your net worth but have little cash in the bank for basic necessities.
It’s easy to get caught up in the figures and in comparing your own net worth to those around you or even celebrities in the media. This can be counter-productive in many ways, as most of us are unlikely to publicize the specific details of our net worth or financial circumstances. Without knowing the ins and outs of someone’s net worth, it is impossible to know how it compares to your own.
Use net worth figures to gain control of your own finances and to set yourself goals for the future, but don’t get too caught up in the figures and comparisons.
Average Net Worth by Age
When we look at the “average” statistics, it’s important to understand the difference between mean and median. “Mean” is another term used for average, but when you’re looking at financial statistics, the mean can produce skewed results. Those who are ultra-wealthy influence the numbers so much that the average net worth is higher than most people are able to reach.
In most cases, it’s more useful to look at the median statistics. Instead of being a true average, the median represents the value in the middle. For example, if you were ranking 100 people by net worth, the median would be the net worth of the 50th ranked person. By looking at the median instead of the mean, the numbers aren’t so skewed by people at either extreme end of the spectrum.
There are a number of factors that appear to impact these figures, such as levels of education, the family’s housing status, and the age of the family members. If you’re looking at improving your own net worth, or simply want to know how you measure up in comparison to your peers, it may be helpful to know the average net worth of US citizens based on their age range, the recent figures are detailed below.
The statistics used in this article are taken from a report by the Federal Reserve.
|Median Net Worth
|Mean Net Worth
|Less Than 35
|75 or More
Less than 35 Years Old
Those falling into the under 35 category have an average (mean) net worth of around $76,300. The median net worth for this group is just under $13,900.
Under 35’s are one of the only groups to have experienced an overall decline in average net worth between the last report in 2016 and 2019. This is likely due to a high number of individuals in this age range being in education or having recently left education. Generally, people in this category will have some student loan debts and it’s thought that the average age of first-time homebuyers in the US has recently risen to 33. This means that those within this range may have fewer assets or savings and higher levels of debts.
This is a great time to begin investing in your future without worrying too much about your current net worth. Focus on your goals and securing your income while aiming to pay off student loans or other debts.
35 – 44 Years Old
In the US, the average (mean) 35 to 44-year-old has a net worth of roughly $436,200, with a median of around $91,300. This is a significant jump from the average net worth of those under 35. This group has also experienced the highest level of average net worth growth in recent years, increasing by 42% from 2016 to 2019.
By 35 the average American has invested in their first home and begun making mortgage repayments. This also tends to be the time at which many people reach a peak in their yearly income. For many, this is a point at which they are able to begin really tackling overhanging debts and start saving and making significant financial investments.
45 – 54 Years Old
Net Worth continues to increase in this age range, with the average (mean) 45 to 54-year-old having a net worth of around $833,200, and the median net worth value falling at around $168,600.
Much like the previous age group, 45 to 54-year-olds tend to have some established assets and may have made progress in paying off any debts or liabilities such as mortgages and student loans. At this point, many people experience either a plateau or a continued steady increase in salary.
This is a great time to look into passive income or income-producing assets. These can provide additional earnings or savings, and you’re also putting measures in place for your eventual retirement and the potential loss of earnings that come along with that.
55 – 64 Years Old
By this point, the average (mean) net worth grows to roughly $1,175,900, with a median of $212,500. This is another significant increase from the previous age range, likely due to the majority of debts being paid off and an accumulation of savings and investments into retirement funds.
For many, this is a point at which you may begin to consider how your retirement will look, and any further actions you can take to increase your level of comfort and stability during that time. You might use this time to maximize and prioritize savings, you might aim to pay off the remainder of a mortgage, or you may be fortunate enough to retire early and enjoy the benefits of savings you have already put in place.
65 – 74 Years Old
The average (mean) net worth of 65 to 74-year-old in the US is currently $1,217,700, and the median is $266,400.
At this point, most families have completed all mortgage payments and finished paying into retirement funds and other savings. This is also the most common age at which people retire. You might keep up your passive or second income stream to maintain some earnings, or you might consider moving to a smaller home with lower upkeep or maintenance costs.
Alternatively, you might choose to embark on a round-the-world trip or treat yourself in some way to enjoy your retirement.
75+ Years Old
By the age of 75, the average person’s net worth begins to decrease for the first time. Here it falls to an average of $977,600 and a median of $254,800.
This is understandable, as the loss of income means that assets begin to be used up without being replaced or added to. If additional care or assisted living is required throughout this stage of life, assets might be utilized to pay for this.
The overall aim is that by maintaining an awareness of your own net worth throughout your working life and setting yourself achievable and ambitious goals, you will have accumulated a high enough net worth to account for any costs at this later stage of life.
Ways to Increase Your Net Worth
There are many ways to improve your own net worth figure. Here are some good starting points:
1. Pay Off Existing Debts
It might seem like an obvious one, but reducing your debts and liabilities will significantly increase your net worth. Perhaps consider prioritizing paying off existing debts over adding to savings for a while to reduce these liabilities.
Some debts can seem insurmountable and the thought of tackling the figures might cause a headache, but it’s worth it in the long run. Not only will this increase your net worth and your credit score, but it might also reduce any stress you’re carrying as a result of the looming debts.
2. Increase Your Income
Focus on your career and maximizing your income. This could involve getting a degree or certification, looking for a higher-paying job or advancement opportunities, or asking for a raise at your current job. If you’re able to increase your income while maintaining the same living expenses, you’ll have more money to save and invest.
3. Consider a Side Hustle
More and more people are looking for second or even third stream of income. This gives more financial stability as well as an overall increase in earnings. There is a huge range of side hustles you could choose from depending on the time and effort you want to put in. See our list of side hustle ideas and find something that you like.
4. Reduce Spending
Again, this might seem like an obvious one, but every little bit really does help.
Tracking your spending and making cuts where possible is a simple way of increasing your net worth and improving your general financial circumstances. This might involve switching to more budget-friendly grocery stores, cutting out unnecessary purchases, or looking for cheaper alternatives for utility bills or cell phone plans.
However you choose to do it, if you’re looking to increase your net worth, reducing your current outgoings is a great place to start.
5. Track Your Net Worth
If you want to increase your net worth, you should be tracking it on a monthly basis. When you’re paying attention and tracking your net worth, you’ll be much more likely to make the right decisions that will help you to reach your goals.
Tracking your net worth is easy with the help of the free online tools from Empower. You’ll connect it to your financial accounts and it will automatically calculate and track your net worth.
Having an understanding of your own net worth and the net worth of your peers is incredibly helpful while planning and managing your finances.
Not only does this enable you to track your spending and recognize financial strengths and weaknesses, but it also allows you to make plans for the future and implement measures that will provide you with financial security and stability.