When it comes to the net worth of many Americans, trouble does indeed come in threes.
A 2023 study found that 51% of Americans have no clue how to calculate their assets to get a true view of their money, and nearly a third believe they have a zero — or negative — net worth.
And the kicker: One third of respondents claimed they knew the net worth of at least one celebrity — subtly suggesting that some of us may be more interested in the numbers of the rich and famous than in our own financial health.
The findings from CreditKarma’s survey are a shocking reminder about the varying degrees of attention to which Americans pay their own finances.
The study found that 61% of women say they don’t know how to calculate their net worth (61%), with roughly 4-in-10 men saying they don’t know. Among the survey’s other disturbing findings: 21% of respondents aged 59 and older — those most likely closest to their retirement years — reported having nothing.
Here’s how to find your net worth — and some simple tips to boost it if you’re not happy with the final figure.
Finding your net worth
Calculating your net worth is fairly simple: Add up your assets from bank accounts, retirement accounts and investments as well as your house, vehicles and other property, then subtract your debts and liabilities. What’s left? That’s your net worth.
Understanding that asset total is important because it gives you a clear picture of your financial situation, helping you identify areas where you can improve your finances, like paying down debt or saving more money.
Additionally, knowing your net worth can be a helpful tool for planning for the future, like retirement or buying a house.
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How do you stack up?
Before searching for your place in the wealth spectrum, it’s important to understand the difference between average worth and median worth. Keep in mind that the average will usually be higher, since that figure is heavily impacted by wealthy outliers whose totals raise the average even if most people in the group have considerably smaller sums.
Every three years the Federal Reserve outlines family net worth average and medians by age group. Here’s the latest data, released in October 2023.
35 and under: average of $183,500 and median of $39,000
35 to 44: average of $549,600 and median of $135,600
45 to 54: average of $975,800 and median of $247,200
55 to 64: average of $1,566,900 and median of $364,500
65 to 74: average of $1,794,600 and median of $409,900
75 and older: average of $1,624,100 and median of $355,600
Overall, the average net worth for all families increased by 23%; meanwhile, the median net worth for all families increased by 37 over the same period.
If those numbers leave you feeling a bit behind, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle to save money and build wealth. But there are simple and important steps you can take to get back on track and boost your net worth.
Reduce debt, and start living below your means. If you’re spending more than you earn, you’ll never be able to save money or build wealth. So start by focusing on trimming and erasing debt and cutting back on your expenses. There are many ways to do this, like cooking at home more often, canceling unnecessary subscriptions, and shopping around for better deals on insurance and other services.
Make a budget and stick to it. A budget will help you track your spending and make sure you’re not overspending. There are many different budgeting methods out there, so find one that works for you and stick with it. Consider starting here.
Start saving in earnest. Consider putting away a designated percentage of your monthly income in a high-yield savings account, a certificate of deposit (CD), or an investment account. Take advantage of retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs, which offer tax advantages and potential employer matching. Automate your savings by setting up regular contributions, even if they’re small. The power of compound interest can work wonders over time, so the earlier you start, the better.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.
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