The Median Net Worth of People Under 35 Will Freak You Out

But here's why you shouldn't worry too much.

Originally Published: 
A millennial stands on a green graph denoting median net worth by age

A recent survey of the average and median net worth of Americans provided some fascinating insights into the state of American finances based on age and may even provide some reassurance to people in their early 30s who just discovered the concept of saving money.

The first thing you might be asking is: what exactly is net worth? It’s a fair question and unlike a lot of financial jargon, it’s a fairly easy concept to understand. Net worth is determined by taking a person or family’s assets (money they have in the bank and property they own) minus outstanding debts they owe.

The Federal Reserve released its Survey of Consumer Finances from 2019, which showed the median and average net worth of heads of households from different age groups. It’s an interesting list that grants some insight into how Americans accumulate wealth over time but perhaps the most shocking part of the survey is the revelation that the median net worth of a head of household under the age of 35 is just $13,900.

The average net worth for a head of household under the age of 35 is $76,300 which is even more shocking, though that number is due to high-earning outliers. For the majority of millennials, significant net worth and savings are just not a thing at this point in life.

The fact that by 35, less than half of Americans have a net worth of $14,000 or more may seem like a grim prospect for their future but the rest of the survey does seem to offer some assurance. For people between the ages of 35-44, the median net worth shoots up to $91,300 and it continues to increase from there, with median net worth for ages 45-54 reaching $168,600 and from 55 on, the median net worth is above $200,000.

So even if you are a 20-something whose personal finances are a bit of a mess at the moment, perhaps you can take some assurance in knowing that net worth really seems to jump up in your late-30s.

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