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What is the Definition of Net Worth?

Net worth is simply what you own minus what you owe (your assets minus your liabilities). Everything that you own is included in your assets: your home, car, investment accounts, furniture, personal belongings, and more. For use assets, we suggest using a conservative estimated value. Bo and Brian value their homes at purchase price on their net worth statements.

In This Article

    What is the Difference Between Average Net Worth and Median Net Worth?

    You might see the terms “average net worth” and “median net worth” used interchangeably, but they are very different. The average is a sum of the net worth of all Americans divided by the number of Americans. The median net worth is the net worth of the person in the exact middle of the data set.

    In the United States, there is a great disparity between average net worth and median net worth.

    According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, the United States ranks #2 of all countries for average net worth at $551,350. The United States ranks #13 of all countries in median net worth at $107,740.

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    Why Should I Know My Net Worth?

    If you are younger or don’t have a large net worth, tracking it may seem pointless or even counterproductive. Why is it good to know that your net worth is so low? There are several benefits to tracking your net worth, even if you are just starting out and your net worth is negative.

      1. Know where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going
        Imagine if you didn’t start tracking your net worth until you hit $1,000,000. You’d miss the most important part of your journey, the trek from $0 (or less) to $1,000,000! Your future self will thank you for starting to track your net worth as early as possible, even if it isn’t impressive.Knowing exactly where you’ve been and where you’re at can help determine where you’re going and the best path forward to get there.
      2. Awaken the invisible hand
        21% of Americans don’t know if they have credit card debt, and 30% don’t know how much they pay in credit card interest every month. If more consumers knew how much debt they had and what it was costing them, they’d likely be more motivated to get out of it.The same is true with net worth. 51% of Americans don’t know how to calculate their net worth, and many of them probably don’t want to learn. The simple act of calculating your net worth helps keep you motivated and highlights areas where you are doing well and areas where you may do better.

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    How Often Should I Review My Net Worth?

    If you are a Financial Mutant, you might be tempted to calculate your net worth quarterly or even monthly. While there is nothing wrong with calculating your net worth more frequently, we believe it is most useful when calculated on an annual basis. This is a long enough time period to drown out some of the noise (short-term market fluctuations, for one) and short enough to steadily track your progress over time.

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    How Do I Calculate My Net Worth?

    Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances. We’ve found this to be the most comprehensive and complete data to calculate average net worth by age (Check out the Money Guy’s latest 2023 Net Worth Survey).

    In their own words, the Federal Reserve states that, “no other study for the country collects comparable data.” Chances are if you see any articles, blogs, or videos about average or median net worth of Americans, they are using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances.

    Get the Free Money Guy Net Worth Basic Spreadsheet Template

    Calculating your personal net worth is easy. Simply tally up everything you own and everyone you owe and the difference is your net worth.

    Download our free Money Guy Net Worth Spreadsheet to get a head start on calculating your own net worth.

    Or, check out our premium Net Worth Tool which provides additional features like year-to-year tracking and dashboard charts.

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    Should I exclude my primary residence from my net worth?

    Any asset, including your home, should be included on your net worth statement. However, if you have a mortgage, you will also include the corresponding liability. Additionally, Bo and Brian include their homes at the purchase price to make sure their net worth statement remains conservative and that their home doesn’t inflate their overall net worth.

    Do I include my cars in my net worth?

    If you own vehicles, you can include them on your net worth statement. Unlike homes, which may be included at purchase price, cars should be included at actual market value. Kelley Blue Book is a reliable source for used car values.

    How do I factor in my 401(k)?

    Investment accounts such as 401(k)s are the easiest item to value on your net worth statement! If your net worth statement is as of December 31st, simply enter your account value at the close of the day on December 31st.

    What net worth is considered wealthy?

    There is no single number that you or anyone else can hit to be considered “wealthy.” Someone who lives in a very expensive home but has nothing invested for retirement may have a high net worth on paper, but be unable to retire. On the flip side of the coin, having a low net worth does not necessarily mean someone will not be wealthy one day.

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    Get The Money Guy Net Worth Tool

    We created our Money Guy Net Worth Tool calculator to take your net worth tracking to the next level. This calculator goes beyond our free, basic template and includes spreadsheets to track your net worth each year and a home dashboard.

    How Have Americans’ Net Worth Changed in 2023?

    The Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances data is available from 1989 onwards, which allows us to analyze both long-term and shorter-term changes in household net worth. The median household net worth has increased 37% since 2019, after inflation, the sharpest increase recorded in the history of the survey and the highest household net worth ever recorded (adjusted for inflation).

    Chart showing household net worth 1989 - 2022

    Much of the increase in net worth is being driven by home prices increasing in the United States. From the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2022, the median price of houses sold in the US went from $313,000 to $433,100, an increase of 38%. Over the same period of time, from 2019 to 2022, American financial assets (excluding things like homes and cars) are still up 29%.

    Chart showing household financial assets for americans 1989-2022

    While overall net worth is at an all-time high, household financial assets, such as 401(k) balances, savings accounts, and Roth IRAs, are still below peaks in 2001 and 2007 when measured in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars.

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    What is the median net worth for Americans by age?

    All data for the median net worth of Americans by age comes from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. This survey is conducted every three years, and data is released the following year. Current data is from the survey conducted in 2022 and data released in 2023. The Survey of Consumer Finances provides data for age ranges instead of specific ages; to determine median net worth at each age, we extrapolated the data linearly to fill in the gaps.

    Interested in other Money Guy “By Age” videos and resources?

    Median Net Worth of Americans

    • Age 20-29: $25,788
    • Age 30-39: $91,181
    • Age 40-49: $185,430
    • Age 50-59: $299,607
    • Age 60-69: $384,849

    Chart showing median household net worth of americans by age brackets (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s) increasing from about 25k to 384k.

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    Early Career: Median Net Worth of Americans 20 to 29 Years Old

    Photo of two young Americans in their 20's for Money Guy Net Worth by Age article

    Americans in their 20s are just starting out: some haven’t yet had a job and are still in college, while others are early on in their careers. Most do not own homes, and their most valuable asset may be their car. Retirement accounts are likely small or non-existent, and cash savings may also be low.

    Chart of median net worth for americans in their 20s, broken out by year, increasing from 7.8k to 47k.

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    The Messy Middle: Median Net Worth of Americans 30 to 39 Years Old

    moneyguy img net worth by age young families 30s

    We often call the decade of the 30s the Messy Middle because obligations and stress are high while time and money may be at a premium. Americans in their 30s are often buying their first home or having a child, so accumulating a large net worth may be difficult.

    Chart of median net worth for Americans in their 30s

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    Mid-Career: Median Net Worth of Americans in Their 40s

    Image of man in his 40's for Money Guy Net Worth by Age article

    Those in their 40s have had a good amount of time to see significant asset accumulation. They may have a house, 401(k), emergency fund, Roth IRA, and other assets on their net worth statement. As we can see below, median net worth balances increase significantly throughout the 40s.

    Chart showing breakdown of median net worth for Americans in their 40s

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    Later Career: Median Net Worth of Late-career Americans in Their 50s

    Photo of woman in her 50s on a laptop calculating her net worth - for money guy article on Net Worth by Age

    As Americans get closer to retirement, they may start saving more to their retirement accounts and see larger increases in their net worth.

    Bar chart showing median net worth increasing by age for Americans in their 50s

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    Pre-Retirement & Retired Americans: Median Net Worth for Seniors 60 to 69 Years Old

    Photo of older couple in their 60s enjoying their retirement by looking out at the beach from a pier. For Money Guy article on Net Worth by Age

    Those in their 60s are likely already retired or on the verge of retirement. We would think their net worth would be higher, and the data shows it is higher than any other age group.

    Bar chart showing increasing median net worth of Americans in their 60s.

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    Other Factors Impacting the Net Worth of Americans

    Median Net Worth by Family Structure

    How does having children affect your net worth?

    Unsurprisingly, the data shows that a couple with no children has a higher median net worth than any other group with or without children. However, having children should obviously not be a decision based on how much your net worth may increase or decrease.

    While kids are expensive, they do not have to be a hindrance to building wealth.

    Bar chart showing impact on American Household net worth by family structure and number of kids.

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    Median Net Worth by Employment Status

    The Federal Reserve broke the Survey of Consumer Finances data down by employment status, and the results are very interesting. Americans not working have the lowest median net worth, while employed Americans have the next lowest net worth. Retired Americans are in a distant second place to self-employed Americans.

    Starting your own business and being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding and lucrative, as the data shows self-employed Americans with a higher net worth than any other demographic.

    Bar chart showing correlation between types of employment status and median net worth

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    Median Net Worth by Educational Attainment

    Is college still worth it? The Survey of Consumer Finances shows that it is absolutely worth it. The median net worth of Americans with a college degree is significantly higher than other educational demographics.

    While obtaining a college degree can certainly increase earning potential, we believe it is very important to do college right and ensure your degree is worth the investment. It is very possible to build wealth without a college degree, and going to college isn’t always the answer.

    Bar chart showing correlation between higher levels of education in America and increased median net worth.

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    Archives: Annual Money Guy Net Worth Surveys

    The median net worth of Americans is constantly changing. You can see how the new data compares to previous data by checking out our Average Net Worth By Age show from earlier this year and previous years.

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    Watch Money Guy Videos about Net Worth