Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC®
The most common question I hear from clients is “How are we doing?”
The second most common question is a variation of the first question; “How are we doing compared to other people our age?”
First, let’s look at household incomes in the United States and see how you stack up against your fellow Americans.
According to the CNN calculator, in 2014, it took a household income of $450,000 to fall in the top 1% of all US household wealth, based on income alone.
If your household income is $60,000, that puts you in the top 47% of all US households.
If your household income is $100,000, then you are in the top 24% of US households.
If your household income is $200,000, then you are in the top 6% of US households.
If your household income is $300,000, then you are in the top 3% in the US.
Source: CNN calculator at https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/income-rank/ – based on 2014 US Census data.
Next, let’s look at how your income and net worth numbers compare to the rest of the world.
Suppose your household income is $100,000. That places you FAR WITHIN the top 1% of richest households in the world based on your income. (.08 would be 8/100’s of 1%)
What about net worth? Let’s look.
If your household net worth is $100,000, then you fall within the top 9% worldwide wealthiest households.
If your net worth is $1,000,000, you are in the top 1% wealthiest households in the world.
Source: Global Rich List at https://www.globalrichlist.com/
I don’t know how accurate these two website datasets are but, really, they could be off by a lot and still be relevant for our purposes here.
Keep in mind, we presently have about 7 billion people on the planet. The US population is less than 5% of that world population at roughly 320 million people.
1. If you happen to live in the US, you are among the richest people in the world. Congratulations! You’re probably doing just fine compared to the rest of the world. Whether you were born here or emigrated here, you have an advantage over 95% of the rest of the world just because you are an American citizen.
2. You probably do not feel like you are rich even though by world standards, you are. We’re all looking around, comparing ourselves to the other rich people around us. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can barely imagine living in the luxury our middle-class lifestyles afford us.
3. We don’t have an income or net worth problem in the US. We have a spending problem.
This exercise was humbling for me personally. It got me thinking about my own expectations, and it also has me thinking about priorities and consumption.
I’m not one to feel guilty about enjoying life. Hard work is an admirable quality and worthy of its own rewards. Work hard, play hard, and enjoy the days God has given you in this life.
However, it is good to look at things in perspective sometimes and reflect. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with people over the past 35 years about life and money. I know it is rare to feel like we have enough money to go around.
Mostly, this left me feeling grateful and blessed to live in this country. We are the richest nation in the history of the world, and we enjoy the most freedom of any people group before us. There are limitless opportunities and possibilities for all Americans.
There is much to be grateful for.
Finally, I cannot help but think of Jesus’ parable recorded in Luke 12:41-48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
That’s my two cents anyway. Hope you enjoy running your own numbers. Share this with a friend who might enjoy hearing what’s on my mind each month.
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