“Am I financially on track?”
Raise your hand if you’ve asked yourself that question.
I know I have.
That’s why I calculate my own net worth every month and measure it against my net worth goal for retirement.
On top of that, I enjoy reading net worth updates of personal finance bloggers that are within my age group, and see how my numbers fare in comparison. Granted, family net worth in the personal finance blogging circle tends to skew higher than average, but it’s still a valid data point to consider.
While it doesn’t feel “healthy” to compare our wealth to others, most of us do it subconsciously anyway. We check out the fancy cars on our neighbors’ driveways, the brands of other women’s purses, and our friends’ vacation photos on Facebook. All in an effort to see how we stack up.
But let’s not forget, wealth is relative.
Using myself as an example, I actually felt much wealthier when I was a university student than I do now.
Back in those days, after I paid off my tuition and bought textbooks for all my classes, if I could still afford rent, food, and the occasional Frappuccino and $35 H&M dresses, I would feel like I was on top of the world.
While I was far from well-to-do, most of my friends were also broke students that had their own fair share of money struggles so I didn’t feel poor by comparison. If instead, I was surrounded by heirs and heiresses, I doubt I’d have felt financially adequate.
Where I lived mattered a lot too: my neighbourhood was full of starter homes, bungalows that needed a touch of TLC, and tiny student apartments. Everyone was hustling to make ends meet. Flaunting wealth was the last thing on these people’s minds.
Looking back, my naïve student self didn’t yet grasp the concept of financial planning, so it was easy to stay oblivious and blissfully content.
In absolute dollar terms, I’m clearly better off today.
I own a home that I love in a city notorious for high cost-of-living, the start of a retirement portfolio that I’m proud of, yet I still feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up.
Why is that?
My peers, who’re now my new points of financial reference, have changed to include professionals with established careers, personal finance bloggers who’ve started their financial freedom journey a couple of years earlier, and a small subset of acquaintances who’ve started successful businesses or are otherwise semi-retired.
All of a sudden, my own financial achievements don’t seem that impressive anymore.
Is this something that resonates with you? Please share your experience in the comments section. I’d love to know!
Getting back to the topic at hand, there is an objectively better way to see if your net worth is on par with the rest: consult official survey data on the average Canadian’s net worth. These data are collected from a random sample of Canadians across all provinces and territories, not just those in your immediate social circle. So hopefully, you get a better sense of how you’re really doing in the grand scheme of things.
I dug up the latest data (2016) on net worth from Statistics Canada’s website and compiled the most relevant info into one single table, so you don’t have to do the work.
Please bear in mind that the data below reflect the personal net worths of individuals who are not part of a couple. If you’re interested in the data on Canadian couples, please check out my blog post How Does Your Net Worth Compare With The Average Canadian Couple.
Without further ado, here’s what you’ve been waiting for:
Age Group Median Net Worth Average Net Worth
Under 35 Years 9,700 62,100
35 to 44 Years 76,000* 214,000
45 to 54 Years 88,000* 290,400
55 to 64 Years 227,800 505,500
65 Years and Older 277,000 493,400
*: figures are not as reliable as the rest of the table
The chart is broken down by age, because the assumption is, the older you are, the more time you’ve had to accumulate wealth and let compound interest work its magic.
If you have surpassed the average or median net worth figure for your age group according to this chart, feel free to pat yourself on the back.
If not, it’s not the end of the world. The mere fact that you’re reading a personal finance blog suggests that you’re ready to do whatever it takes to reach your financial goals. Whatever those may be, best of luck!
Want to track your own net worth? Feel free to download my net worth spreadsheet.
Do these numbers shock you? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below.