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
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:
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.