Note: I update this post whenever the Canadian government releases new survey data. To see where your household ranks under the latest survey from year-end 2016 (the post below uses older data from 2012), click here.
Everyone compares themselves to others—it’s basic human nature. But sizing up net worths isn’t polite conversation. In fact, it’s taboo. Faced with this, some people try to rank themselves indirectly, such as by outspending their neighbors. This can produce great unhappiness (but at least it makes for happy retailers).
If you could compare your net worth to others without being impolite or spending for show, would you do it? If your answer is “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place. Through the magic of statistics, you can see how your household’s wealth stacks up against everyone else—and it doesn’t cost a cent.
The Survey of Financial Security
The largest recurring study of Canadian net worth, the Survey of Financial Security (SFS), is conducted by Statistics Canada, an agency of the federal government. The latest SFS was conducted in 2012 and involved interviews of 12,000 households. If you live in Canada, the SFS presents the single best way to see how your nest egg stacks up against others.
Like similar US surveys, the 2012 SFS reports net worth in percentiles. Statistics Canada has released this data in two stages. First, in February, 2014, it published a chart that reported median net worths by quintile. I used these five data points to prepare a beta version of Worthometer Canada, which was published in July, 2014 here. Second, in April, 2015, Statistics Canada released its SFS Public Use Microdata File (PUMF), which reported forty more percentile data points.
Incorporating both SFS public releases, I’ve prepared a final version of Worthometer Canada. (If you’re interested in its mechanics, read the methodology section that appears at the end of this post.)
How to Use Worthometer Canada
Follow these two easy steps.
Step 1: Calculate Your Household’s Net Worth
The SFS defines net worth as the amount that would remain if a household sold off all its assets and paid off all its debts. Apply this simple formula:
Total Assets – Total Liabilities = Net Worth.
To figure your household’s net worth, you can use an online calculator such as those offered at AARP, Bankrate.com, and CGI.money.com. Include any real estate and vehicles you own because the SFS counts such items as assets (and it also counts any loans on such items as liabilities).
Once you’ve figured your household’s net worth, proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: Use Worthometer Canada to Look Up Your Household’s Percentile Ranking
To see where you stack up in the 2012 SFS survey results (as expanded by a process of linear interpolation), simply input your household’s net worth into the box below and click the “Show Ranking” button:
Your Worthometer Canada ranking will appear in this space.
- This analysis is based on Statistics Canada’s Survey of Financial Security Public Use Microdata, 2012, Product 13M0006XCB, which contains anonymous data collected in the Survey of Financial Security. All computations on these microdata were prepared by A. Noonan Moose. The responsibility for the use and interpretation of these data is entirely that of the author.
- All amounts are reported in 2012 Canadian dollars, which is the latest year the SFS was conducted.
- Employer pension plans are valued on a “termination basis.” In such valuations, any interest rates applied are based upon current market rates and no value is attributed to future salary increases. For households with Defined Contribution (DC) plans, which are not nearly so common as Defined Benefit (DB) plans, values likely can be derived from the latest annual statements. For DB plans, valuation gets more complicated. Statistics Canada has published a lengthy paper on how it estimates present values of DC and DB plans: Survey of Financial Security Methodology for estimating the value of employer pension plan benefits–Catalog No. 13F0026MIE-01003.
Worthometer Canada Methodology
Worthometer Canada was prepared as follows.
First, I created a spreadsheet that started at the 6.8th percentile, which is where the SFS PUMF data begins, and added rows in .10 increments until I hit the 99.7th percentile, which is where the SFS PUMF data ends. The resulting spreadsheet was 930 lines long.
Second, I populated 45 lines of my spreadsheet with the 2012 SFS publicly released data points for net worth amounts and percentiles. That left 885 lines of .10 percentile increments without any corresponding net worth figures. Whenever such gaps appear in a data table, they can be filled through a variety of interpolative methods (linear, cubic spline, and others). I choose linear interpolation. Why? Because it’s straightforward to use and based upon my research, fancier approaches don’t produce a better calculator.
Third, I split the difference between each known SFS net worth data point into equal 0.10 slices and used the results to populate the 885 blank rows of the spreadsheet; in other words, I interpolated the data.
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If you’d like to explore other Frugal Fringe calculators, click any of the following:
- What’s My Frugality Salary? A Calculator that Tests the Worthiness of any Frugal Project
- yFIRECalc 1.0: The Retirement Calculator that Shows Why You Should Retire Early
- Frugalometer: Compare Your Spending and Saving to Others Who Earn the Same Income
- Worthometer: Compare Your Net Worth to National Surveys
- How to Compare Your Income to Others (Without Being Rude)
- Compare Your Adjusted Gross Income to Others by Age and Filing Status [Using 2011 IRS Data]
- Compare Your Adjusted Gross Income to Others by Age and Filing Status [Using 2012 IRS Data]
- Compare Your Student Loan Debt to National Studies—What’s Your Percentile?
- Worthometer Canada (Beta): Gauge Your Net Worth Against Canadian Households
Photo by Kat R