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Are you rich? An analysis of what it means to be wealthy in America

Posted at 6:52 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 20:52:30-04

Are you rich? No one can tell you but you because the definition is subjective. But comparing may give you a sense of whether your perception is accurate.

The New York Times puts out some really great data studies in their blog called “The Upshot,” and they get credit for this story idea and the core information:

Measuring net worth is relatively simple, though if you are like me, you don’t know the basic numbers off the top of your head so you may need to dive into your tax return, bank records, credit card statements, mortgage, and pay stubs. If these things aren’t easy to find…that’s probably a good indication this exercise will be especially helpful for you!

The basic idea: Net worth is the sum of what you own after subtracting what you owe.

So let's say you are 34 years old and owe:
Mortgage: $250,000
Credit Cards: $5,000
Student Loans: $20,000
Car and Home Equity: $25,000

All told you owe $300,000

Now let’s say you own:
Home: $385,000 (This is the median home price in Salt Lake County as of the second quarter of 2019)
401K: $60,000
Bank Savings: $5,000

All told your assets are worth: $450,000

Own: $450,000
Owe: $300,000
Subtract and your net worth is: $150,000

According to the Times, that would put you in the top 15% compared with other people between ages 18 and 34.

Some other figures:

Want to be in the top one percent? That means having about one million dollars in assets after subtracting your debt by age 34. By age 44, you would have 2.65 million dollars and by age 54 you’d have about 12 million dollars, with your wealth staying in that range through retirement.

To be in the top ten percent means you have more than 160 thousand dollars before age 34, more than a million before you're 54 and above two million through retirement.

To be in the top twenty percent means you have over 80 thousand dollars by 34, over 550,000 by 54 and nearly a million by the time you retire.