What net worth is average at 34?
Average Net Worth by Age – How Does Your Wealth Compare?
I hate to break it to you, but you’ll probably never be as rich as Oprah. And so what? Rather than comparing yourself to the most successful people on the planet, compare yourself instead to your peers. If you feel the need to play the comparison game at all, that is. Here’s a glimpse into how net worth breaks down by age in the U.S.
A Quick Overview of Net Worth & the Data
Your net worth is the total value of your assets (such as bank accounts, investment accounts, emergency funds, real estate, whole life insurance cash value, retirement savings, and so on), minus the total of all your liabilities (credit card debt, mortgage debt, car loans, personal loans, and so forth). In other words, it represents your total wealth at this moment. Net worth does not directly reflect your income or budgeting, although of course a higher income makes it easier to build wealth faster. Most of the data featured below comes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). It includes data from 2016-2019, and was published in late 2020. The Fed won’t publish the next Survey of Consumer Finances until 2023.
Median vs. Mean Net Worth
If it’s been a while since your middle school math class on averages, recall there are three types: mean, median, and mode. You can ignore mode because it’s irrelevant to net worth. Mean, sometimes used interchangeably with “average,” is calculated by mathematically averaging all the data points together. The mean of 4, 4, and 5 is 4.33: the sum total (13) divided by the number of data points (3). Median, in contrast, represents the middle value in the dataset. In the example above, the median is 4. When comparing net worths, the median value offers the most insight. It helps you compare yourself to the overwhelming majority of other Americans. The median net worth in the U.S. is $121,700 as of the most recent SCF. The mean is skewed by the wealthiest Americans, most of whom started businesses that grew into successful enterprises (see Tom Corley’s research on self-made millionaires). It makes little sense to compare yourself to the richest of the rich because they represent only a small fraction of the country at large. As of the most recent SCF, the mean net worth is $748,800 — several times higher than the median.
Average Net Worth by Age
As you’d expect, older people tend to have higher net worths than younger adults. They’ve had longer to earn, invest for compounded returns, and accumulate wealth, after all. In fact, many young adults have a negative net worth due to student loan debt. It takes time to pay off student loans and start saving and investing money. Here’s how median and mean net worths break down by age, according to the SCF:
|Age||Median Net Worth||Mean Net Worth|
Note that net worths start to shrink again for older adults 70 and over. It makes intuitive sense — retirees spend down their nest egg in retirement. For another source of household net worth metrics, check out Personal Capital’s figures:
|Age by Decade||Median Net Worth||Mean Net Worth|
Try this fun calculator from Don’t Quit Your Day Job to check your own net worth against your age group, as a percentile.
Average Net Worth by Other Factors
Age isn’t the only factor that correlates strongly with net worth. These actionable behaviors also affect Americans’ average wealth.
Average Net Worth by Education Level
It’s hardly a surprise that Americans with higher education levels boast higher net worths. Here’s how the numbers break down at different educational levels:
|Education Level||Median Net Worth||Mean Net Worth|
|No high school diploma||$20,500||$137,800|
|High school diploma||$74,000||$305,200|
Americans who don’t graduate high school tend to fall behind financially. There’s little difference in the net worths between high school graduates and Americans with some college, but college graduates see a huge jump in average net worth. In fact, the median net worth of a college graduate is roughly four times that of a high school graduate, and the mean net worth roughly five times higher. Your parents’ advice to get good grades in school and go to college holds up under the cold light of data. That said, both the mean and median net worths of college graduates declined from 2016 to 2019. In contrast, the mean and median net worths of high school graduates went up during that period, suggesting a narrowing value gap between high school and college degrees.
Average Net Worth by Homeownership
The single greatest differentiating factor in net worth isn’t education level, race, religion, sex, or any other demographic characteristic. It’s whether you own your home or rent. Renters averaged a median net worth of $6,300 and a mean net worth of $95,600. Homeowners claimed a median net worth of $255,000, and a mean net worth of $1,102,100. That puts the median net worth of homeowners over 40 times higher than the median net worth of tenants. If you’ve sat on the fence, consider improving your credit score and buying a home. Homeowners not only benefit from growing home equity over time, but also tax benefits like the mortgage interest deduction. Once again, that gap has narrowed slightly from 2016 to 2019, as part of the broader trend of the narrowing wealth gap in the U.S. More on that shortly.
Average Net Worth by Urbanicity
Urban and suburban dwellers have a higher average net worth than rural dwellers. Those living in a metropolitan statistical area had a median net worth of $126,000 and a mean net worth of $806,400. Meanwhile, those living outside major metro areas had a median net worth of $90,400 and a mean net worth of $324,800. Interestingly, the median net worth for rural dwellers dropped 3%, even as the mean net worth rose 11%. But among urban and suburban dwellers, median net worth jumped 20%, even as mean net worth ticked up only 1%. That indicates stronger gains for lower- and middle-class workers in cities, while the wealthy have seen greater gains in rural areas. Or it could mean high net worth Americans are leaving cities in favor of more rural areas.
Narrowing Wealth Gap
Wealth inequality in the U.S. trended lower from 2016 to 2019. The poorest Americans added wealth much faster than richer Americans during that period. The bottom 25% least wealthy Americans saw their median net worth rise 131% over that time. The next quartile saw their median net worth rise by 36%. Americans in the 50% to 75% quartile saw their median net worth rise 10%. Americans in the 75% to 90% percentiles saw their wealth rise only 1%. Among the top 10% wealthiest Americans, their median net worth rose a modest 2%. You can also see it in the change in median net worth versus mean net worth. Median net worth for all Americans grew 18%, while mean net worth grew only 2%, narrowing the gap between the two measures. Whether the Kardashians own five mansions or six doesn’t impact the average American. The meaningful changes appear in the quality of life for the bottom 90% of Americans, which has risen sharply over the past half century.
Net worth is a useful measure to help you plan for retirement and gauge your progress toward long-term financial goals. But don’t fall into the trap of measuring your self worth by your net worth, and certainly don’t compare your personal finances to the wealthiest people in the world. The most successful entrepreneurs will always push the ceiling higher for “richest person in the world.” Instead of embittering yourself by fixating on how rich other people appear on social media, focus on improving your own quality of life. Increase your savings rate to build your total assets and passive income streams. Reconsider your ideal life and get intentional to make it happen. Explore the possibility of financial independence and retiring early. Most of all, become debt-free and start investing and compounding your money if you haven’t already. If the uneven distribution of wealth troubles you, focus on improving the quality of life for the poorest Americans rather than comparing them to the Oprahs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Look for ways to volunteer in low-income communities. Boost education rates through tutoring or volunteer teaching, knowing just how closely education correlates with income and net worth. Better yet, give money or volunteer abroad. Even lower-income Americans enjoy a far higher quality of life than most workers throughout the world. Having spent many hours working in the poorest communities in Baltimore, and having also visited dozens of poorer countries, I can tell you firsthand that even the poorest areas in the U.S. enjoy far more amenities than those in developing countries. The next time you feel tempted to compare your net worth to your peers, just remember that you likely rank among the world’s richest 10% — a title you can claim with a net worth of $93,170, per Credit Suisse.
What is the average net worth by age in Canada?
In the past few years, growth in housing prices and the stock market have improved the net worth of Canadians across the board. But what exactly is net worth, and how is it calculated? In this article, we’ll dive into the numbers (thank you Stats Can), and I’ll do my best to interpret what the median net worth of Canada’s population means for your personal finances. Ready? Let’s get started!
Net worth definition
A person’s net worth is the difference between their total assets and liabilities. Of course, assets represent things you own, and liabilities are your debts, or the amount that you owe. The net worth formula is simple:
Total assets – Total liabilities = Total net worth
As long as your total assets exceed total liabilities, you will have a positive net worth. If the opposite is true (liabilities > assets), you’ll have a negative net worth. You can determine your net worth or your family’s if you have a spouse or common-law partner.
Canadian net worth by age
Now that you understand what net worth is and how it’s calculated, let’s take a closer look at the median net worth for different age groups, as per Statistics Canada:
Median net worth (2019)
It makes sense that a person’s net worth increases with age. The average Canadian doesn’t reach their peak earning years until they’re well into their 40s, or even 50s. After 65, most Canadians have retired, their income has decreased, and they have begun to draw down their investments, hence the decrease in median net worth.
Net worth by province
The median net worth varies depending upon where you live in Canada. Here’s a net worth breakdown by province, as of 2019:
Median Net Worth
Prince Edward Island
British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario have the highest median net worth. Not surprisingly, these are the provinces with the most robust housing markets and the highest average incomes.
Household net worth trends
In addition to the impact of home values on the average Canadian net worth, Stats Canada has identified the following net worth trends.
Fewer seniors are debt-free today than in the past
In 1999, 72.6% of senior-led families were debt-free, and twenty years later, that number has fallen to 56.7%. While Canadian seniors are still more debt-free than any other age group, they are carrying more debt than before. This is one indicator that the cost of living in Canada is outpacing income growth.
Single parent families have a lower net worth
According to Stats Canada, single-parent families have less financial security than couples with children. This is evidenced by a much lower median household net worth ($83,100 vs. $435,700.) In addition to net worth, lone-parent families are less likely to own their home, have a workplace pension, or own a vehicle.
Renters nearing retirement have a lower net worth than homeowners
There’s a common debate in personal finance circles as to what’s better: buying or renting your home. While each side has its share of valid points, statistics favour homeowners, even when age is considered. In Canada, the median net worth of homeowners between 55 to 64 is $952,100 versus $40,000 for renters in the same age group. The concept that homeownership creates wealth is bolstered by this statistic, at least in Canada.
Families with an employer pension plan are more well off
Canadians have long known that they cannot rely solely on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to live off in retirement. Unless you’re an incredible saver, employer-sponsored pension plans are necessary for building long-term wealth. This includes defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution pension plans.
The numbers back this up. The median net worth for families with an employer pension plan was $633,300 versus $91,200 for those with no workplace pension, a significant difference. Unfortunately, only 50.4% of Canadian families have one member enrolled in an EPP.
What is net worth used for?
Your net worth is one measurement of your current financial health, and the higher your positive net worth is, the better. On the other hand, negative net worth can indicate poor financial health, though not always the case. Net worth is one of several measurements lenders use when assessing a credit application.
It’s important to note that net worth is not the only indicator of financial health, and it has its limitations. For example, it doesn’t measure cash flow (ability to cover expenses), or your creditworthiness.
As an indicator of wealth, net worth on its own can be deceiving, because not all assets are equal. For example, home equity is given equal standing alongside liquid assets, like cash and stock investments. Who has the stronger $500,000 net worth? The person with $400,000 of home equity and $100,000 of liquid investments, or $400,000 in cash and ETFs, and only $100,000 in home equity.
With today’s housing market, thousands of Canadians fall into the former scenario, but one could make a strong argument for the latter.
What should I include as an asset?
The following is a list of assets that you could include in your net worth calculation:
- The market value of your house
- Cottage or investment property
- Raw land
- Cash and short-term savings
- Long-term investments, including RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, etc.
- Personal effects, i.e., jewelry, clothing, etc.
- Business assets (for sole proprietors)
- Other household assets
What should I include as a liability?
A liability is typically anything that you owe. If you own a home but have a mortgage, the liability will be the amount due on the mortgage.
- Mortgage balance owing
- Car loan balance
- Other personal loans and lines of credit
- Student loans
- RRSP loans
- Credit card balances
Net worth calculator
Here’s an example of how you might calculate net worth for an imaginary Canadian couple:
Name: Ben and Rachel Lee
Family Income: $175,000
Vehicle #2 (Lease)
Company Pension (Ben)
Term Life Ins — 500K (Ben)
Current Balance Owing
Car Loan Vehicle #1
Personal Line of Credit
Student Loan (Rachel)
RRSP Loan (Rachel)
Total net worth: $1,015,300 – $437,603 = $577,697
As you can see, figuring out Ben and Rachel’s net worth is as simple as totaling their assets and liabilities and calculating the difference between them. You might have noticed that I didn’t include the value of Ben and Rachel’s leased vehicle or Ben’s term life insurance policy in the net worth calculation.
When you lease a vehicle, the car belongs to the car company. Thus, it should not be considered an asset. But the lease obligations (payments) are also not considered a liability. If you choose to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease, it then becomes an asset.
Having ample life insurance coverage is crucial, but you shouldn’t list it as an asset for calculating net worth unless it contains a savings component. Many people will include life insurance details in their net worth and assign a $1 value.
How can I increase my net worth?
Don’t let the net worth of other Canadians make you feel worse about your financial situation. If it’s less than the median, remember that high net worth is a journey, not a destination; every dollar you put towards paying down debt increases your net worth. So does every dollar you invest.
No matter where you are today, there are ways you can increase your net worth and gain more financial independence. You don’t even need to own a house in Toronto – (that bubble will eventually burst, by the way.) Consider starting a side hustle, then use the extra income to invest or pay off debt more quickly. You can also try to make more money at your 9-5, through promotions or by asking for a raise.
If your company doesn’t offer a pension plan, consider moving to one that does. Whether you already own a house or are thinking of buying, house hacking will help you pay your mortgage off faster and improve your net worth. Owning a rental property can also help. In other words, there are many things you can do.
Final thoughts on net worth in Canada
While there are always exceptions to the rule, understanding the net worth of Canadian families, including net worth by age, helps us make several conclusions about personal finance in Canada.
For starters, homeownership builds wealth, especially if you live in B.C., Alberta, or Ontario. Also, do what you can to work for a company with a pension plan – it will make you wealthier in the long run. And not surprisingly, two incomes are better than one.
Of course, life is never that cut and dry. There are many twists and turns along the way, and building a solid net worth can take years, even decades. Why not start today?
This article was written by Tom Drake from MapleMoney and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Net Worth Goals by Age
How much wealth to have established in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Barbara Friedberg is a former portfolio manager and owner of two investment resource websites. She is a financial technology consultant and author of several investing and personal finance books.
Updated on November 9, 2021
Ebony Howard is a certified public accountant and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor tax expert. She has been in the accounting, audit, and tax profession for more than 13 years, working with individuals and a variety of companies in the health care, banking, and accounting industries.
In This Article
In This Article
Wondering if you’re on track for a solid financial future? If you’re just stepping into adulthood, you may be worried about your job and student loan debt, and not so much about your financial future. Fortunately, with a little planning, you can secure your tomorrow and live well today.
One good benchmark is your current net worth, which is roughly calculated by adding up all your cash and other assets and subtracting your debts. Don’t worry about keeping up with your buddies on this crucial number. Instead, learn the net worth targets you should hit at each age.
For reference, here’s an in-depth breakdown of where you should aim to be when it comes to net worth goals by age and percentages of income to have saved.
In Your 20s
Try not to worry too much about your current net worth when you’re just starting out. If you’re coming out of college with student loans, it may very well be negative.
Instead, focus on building your net worth. You should start as soon as you have your first job. Most companies offer a retirement savings plan, a 401(k), or 403(b). If you don’t have access to these types of retirement plans, you can save on your own with a Roth IRA.
The beauty of these retirement accounts is that once your money is transferred from your paycheck into your savings account, it can grow and compound until you withdraw the funds for retirement. Your best bet is to set up an automatic transfer of at least 6% of your salary into your retirement account.
Next, shoot for your first net worth target at age 30.
Net Worth at Age 30
By age 30 your goal is to have an amount equal to half your salary stored in your retirement account. If you’re making $60,000 in your 20s, strive for a $30,000 net worth by age 30. That milestone is possible through saving and investing. Let’s say you start investing $3,466 each year ($288 per month), starting at age 23. If your investment account earns 7% annually, you’ll reach a $30,000 net worth by age 30.
If that sounds overwhelming, or you’re getting a late start with your career, don’t worry. These are savings guidelines, not rules etched in stone.
Net Worth at Age 40
By age 40, your goal is to have a net worth of two times your annual salary. So, if your salary edges up to $80,000 in your 30s, then by age 40 you should strive for a net worth of $160,000.
Additionally, it’s not just contributing to retirement that helps you build your net worth. You can increase that number in other ways, too. For instance, owning real estate is another path to growing your net worth. Similar to other types of financial assets, real estate values appreciate over the years. Ultimately, the benefit of investing in real estate is that your small down payment grows exponentially, as the home value increases.
Net Worth at Age 50
By age 50, your goal is to have a net worth of four times your annual salary. If you’re earning $100,000 in your 40s, then your net worth target at age 50 is $400,000. This might sound like a lot, but by starting to save and invest early in adulthood, time will work its compounding magic. And if you start later, try to save more aggressively.
In your 40s, you might have children growing up and heading off to college. Don’t neglect your own retirement savings in favor of your children. Instead, encourage your children to work and cover some of their own expenses. And if you’re falling behind on your money goals, try finding a side hustle to boost your income.
Net Worth at Age 60
By age 60, you’ll be on track with a net worth of six times your annual salary. If your salary is in the $100,000 to $160,000 range then multiply that amount by six, and that’s your net worth target.
At this point, your net worth benchmarks are dependent on what your retirement needs are going to be. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, those needs will vary. A common rule of thumb is to replace 15% of your pre-tax working income in retirement over the course of your life. If your retirement dreams are grand and include exotic travels, you might need more.
Alternately, if you’re seeking a quiet retirement in an affordable community, then you may need less. Finally, if you want to retire earlier, then you’ll need a larger net worth than those looking to work until they’re 70 or older.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is net worth an annual figure?
Net worth is cumulative, not annual. It’s the total value of assets you have acquired up to that point. It includes any cash in your bank account, any investments in a brokerage or retirement account, and any real estate you own—regardless of how long ago you acquired these assets.
What is the typical net worth in the U.S.?
The latest Federal Reserve study on net worth found that the mean average net worth among American families was just under $750,000 in 2019. The median net worth was $121,700.