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Introducing the Amazing Worthometer!

Last month, I posted “How to Compare Your Net Worth to Others (Without Being Rude).” The article discusses national surveys that tabulate household net worth into neat columns of percentiles. Thanks to these various surveys, you can see how you stack up against others as you pursue your financial goals.

The “How to Compare” article proved so popular that it inspired me to search for a one-stop net worth solution, one that would gather the best available data from multiple sources and report the resulting percentiles in an easy-to-use gauge. After many hours of work with statistics and spreadsheets, this gauge is finally ready. For what it’s worth, I call it the “Worthometer” (pronounced like “Speedometer”).

The Worthometer is the web’s only net worth percentile gauge that incorporates, interpolates, reconciles, and averages all three major surveys of household wealth:

(1) the 2011 US Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which includes up to 52,000 households;

(2) the 2013 Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which involves 6,026 households; and

(3) the 2011 University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which evaluates over 5,000 households.

These three sources constitute the latest available surveys. As more get published, I’ll include the results in Worthometer updates.

The Worthometer in Action

Here’s an example.

Let’s say Jane Dough’s net worth is $457,893, counting the equity in her home and car (the Worthometer’s net worth data includes the value of all owned real estate and vehicles, so Jane needs to include those values when figuring her net worth). She scans down to the appropriate part of the Worthometer, excerpted below, and this is what she sees:

If you have at least x dollars, then y percent of those surveyed are worth less than you

Net Worth Percentile
$422,918 81.00
$436,630 81.50
$450,342 82.00
$464,594 82.50
$483,712 83.00
$502,829 83.50

According to the Worthometer, Jane ranks in the 82nd percentile of all US households, because that’s the ranking closest to but not over her current net worth of $457,893. If Jane wants to see how she fares under each of the three individual surveys (the SIPP, SCF, and PSID), she can look at specific charts devoted to each of those surveys (where she ranks in the 84.50th, 80.55th, and 81.50th percentiles, respectively).

Let’s extend this example one step further. Armed with her 82nd percentile ranking, Jane can consult the Worthometer again to see how much more she needs to accumulate in order to break into the top ten percent of US households. Here’s the relevant detail:

Net Worth Percentile
$711,280 88.50
$734,511 89.00
$757,742 89.50
$780,973 90.00
$834,440 90.50
$887,907 91.00

This shows that Jane will enter the top ten percent of US households once her net worth crests $780,973—so she has $320,080 to go ($780,973-$457,893=$320,080). Motivated by the amazing Worthometer, Jane recommits herself to a path of continuous frugality—and her net worth continues to grow as she continues to pursue financial independence.

Where to Find a Worthometer Near You

In order to use the Worthometer yourself, click here. In order to see individual charts for each of the three surveys that supply the Worthometer’s underlying data, click any of the following: 2011 SIPP, 2013 SCF, and 2011 PSID. To see a detailed description of the Worthometer’s methodology, including its use of linear interpolation, click here.

Going forward, the Worthometer, the underlying SIPP-SCF-PSID charts, and the project’s methodology can be accessed at the top of any of page of this website by clicking the new Worthometer button located immediately below the Frugal Fringe banner.

Please let me know whether you find the Worthometer helpful and if there’s anything I can do to improve it.

Stay frugal, my friends!

Note: This post was revised on 09/24/2014 to reflect the latest updates to the Worthometer.

Photo Credit: Hollerith Census Machine by Marcin Wichary. To see original at Flickr, click here.

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4 Responses to Introducing the Amazing Worthometer!

  1. Will July 2, 2014 at 6:33 AM #

    Jane Dough LOLOLOLOLOLOL 🙂

    You know, hanging out with so many PF pros has really made me underestimate my wealth. I almost think it’s normal we all rock with finances. Seeing the reality of our entire society (sample) though is cool/sad. I’m doing better than so many people older than me. Am I that good or are they that bad…?
    Will recently posted…Optimum FrugalityMy Profile

    • A Noonan Moose July 2, 2014 at 7:02 AM #

      Perhaps you’re doing better because most mainstream consumers gauge success by how much stuff they accumulate instead of how much wealth they accumulate. If we were building a gauge of mainstream success, which we might call a “Stuffometer,” it might measure the total cubic yards of idle consumer goods residing in the subject’s garage and basement—the higher the total stored mass, the higher the household’s overall ranking. Someone should definitely run with this! 😉

  2. Free To Pursue July 2, 2014 at 7:54 PM #

    I did a little happy dance…until I converted to CDN dollars. The exchange rate is killing me! *sigh* Still happy to be getting an “A” though…Thanks for putting this cool reference table together. It helps to see where we stand, even though the population in general is in a need of a major boost. It would be great to be able to raise the bar across the board.

    • A Noonan Moose July 2, 2014 at 8:45 PM #

      Thanks F2P! I wonder: does Canada run any similar nationwide surveys for household holdings of loonies?

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