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MoneySense Magazine Net Worth Milestones

After flipping through the summer edition of MoneySense Magazine, I came across an interesting article that answers a reader question that I get often.

“What should my net worth be for my age?”

Here is what the magazine came up with as an average net worth by age group:

Age 35 to 44 Age 45 to 54 Age 55 to 64
Median net worth $160,000 $265,000 $450,000
% who own a home/value 68% / $240,000 74% / $225,000 77% / $220,000
% w. mortgage/value 81% / $115,000 60% / $90,000 39% / $70,000
% w. RRSPs/value 63% / $25,000 68% / $45,000 69% / $65,000
% w. pension/value 48% / $35,000 52% / $120,000 60% / $260,000

How do those numbers look to you? Does your net worth stack up against Canadian averages?

As a side note, It just so happens that at the end of the magazine, Million Dollar Journey was mentioned in the “Consume this” section. It’s one thing to be mentioned in a newspaper, but I’m particularly thrilled to have been recognized by a magazine that I’ve been following for years.  Special thanks to Canadian Capitalist and other readers for giving me the heads up on the mention.

Here’s what they said:

..the young engineer who writes this blog hails from Newfoundland.  his goal is to amass a million bucks by the time he hits 35.  And, judging from the wide ranging material on his site, he’s willing to do just about anything to make that happen.

OUR TAKE: What makes this site work is the personality of the anonymous author.  He describes himself as an “obsessive-compulsive personal finance guy,” but he’s actually immensely likable.  While we could quibble with some of his views, there’s no doubting his spirit.

For those of you interested in getting a subscription to MoneySense Magazine (or other popular magazines), find out how you can get an additional 16.25% discount off your magazine subscription.

-> If you would like to read more articles like this, you can sign up for my free newsletter service below (we will not spam you).

FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • DAvid August 5, 2008, 8:00 am

    Congrats on the mention! I concur on the ‘immensely likeable’ part.

    Does the net worth refer to family net worth? The inclusion of house & mortgage seems to indicate such. If so, we are ahead in all categories, except pension, as my significant other has no pension, but instead has a sizeable RRSP.

    DAvid

  • MoneyGrubbingLawyer August 5, 2008, 9:03 am

    I can’t really gauge how I stack up, as there’s no “25-34” category, but we’re on track to beating the 35-44 averages, assuming that things go roughly according to our conservative plan, and I would hope that our mortgage will be well below the median (unless, of course, I break down and go for the Smith Manouvre).

    I can’t seem to understand the own home / mortgage disparity in the 35-44 group- why do notably more people in this group have a mortgage than own a home? I’m guessing this figure is actually a percentage of those who own a home? (I haven’t had my morning tea yet, so forgive me if I’m being a little dense…)

    And I’ll add my congrats on the MoneySense mention- keep up the good work!

  • Laura August 5, 2008, 9:36 am

    It seems we are doing well compared to average. I am 30, DH is 34 with a net worth of about 400k (mortgage is 85k). We still have lots of work to attain our goals though…..travelling is our weakness!

  • Michael James August 5, 2008, 12:05 pm

    The way the question is phrased says a lot about the attitudes of the person who asks: “What should my net worth be for my age?”

    This is actually two separate questions:

    1. What is the typical net worth for someone my age?
    2. What should my net worth be?

    Our obsession with being normal makes us think that these two questions must have the same answer. But, what if you hate your job and can’t stand the thought of doing it until you’re 60? Then being like everyone else your age who has to go to work each day is no good for you. You need to reduce spending and increase saving dramatically to create some financial freedom.

    What if you love your job with modest pay and you are completely content with a lifestyle that consumes one-third of the typical cash flow of other people. Then you can comfortably live with a lower than average net worth.

    Think for yourself instead of trying to be the same as everyone else.

  • moneygardener August 5, 2008, 12:16 pm

    Michael, Although I agree that everyone’s situation is unique, benchmarking against others your own age is healthy as it drives us to succeed. I don’t want to be normal; instead I want to have a higher net worth than the majority of people my age. I don’t want to be anywhere near the median or average value.

  • Michael James August 5, 2008, 12:25 pm

    MoneyGardener: Having read your blog for a while, I agree that this kind of competitiveness is healthy for you. But, for many others, trying to be normal or competitive isn’t healthy:

    “It’s OK that I owe $7000 on my credit cards because all my friends are in the same boat.”

    “We’d better get a new car because both our neighbours have new cars.”

    I’d rather have people think about what is good for them instead of worrying about what the average net worth is.

  • MikeG August 5, 2008, 1:40 pm

    I always get feeling envious around one of my friends, he has a Nice spacious house, bought his wife a mercedes for her wedding present. He drives a sweet VW and has all the toys..

    I was talking to my wife about it and I was really upset by it, how come he has all this great stuff and I got jack, we both work hard and its not like we’re extravagent. It makes you wonder why you don’t deserve to have nice things too?

    But then my wife levelled me with her answer. She said (paraphrase) “You do deserve it, and it will come. That will come and more, because he is probably just barely making the payments on everything, and in the end will have less than us because we will avoid all of that interest.”

    This coming from my wife who isnt really into Personal Finance etc. I was like, wow, you’re so right..

    +2 points to me cause I married the right girl :)

    -MikeG

  • Cannon_fodder August 5, 2008, 1:45 pm

    As my wife and I approach the top end of the 35-44 age group, I’m struck by one thing – our respective net worths before we found each other (several years after we divorced our first spouses) were going along pretty nicely all things considered.

    But, in the last 8 years we have seen a tremendous increase in our combined net worth. I attribute this to some good (i.e. high compensation) years at work, purchasing a home (something I would not have done by myself and would have foregone the appreciation of our home’s value) and, only recently, focussing on investments.

    I think there is a lot of value to attaining your goals by thinking about them daily. This constant attention is really paying dividends (no pun intended) because instead of wandering aimlessly we have a plan and we’re executing that plan.

    Our results are that our mortgage figure is almost identical, we have no pension, but in all other categories we are far ahead. If we were looking to retire in 20 years we are set, but I’d like us to semi-retire in 6 years (work at jobs we’d like to) and retire in 11 years (not have to work for a paycheque ever again).

    I applaud those that can reach those type of objectives, 10 or even 20 years ahead of us!

  • Four Pillars August 5, 2008, 1:48 pm

    I agree with Michael – if you are going to compare yourself to anyone then pick a relevant peer group (ie other financial bloggers) rather than the public at large.

  • FT FrugalTrader August 5, 2008, 2:16 pm

    Yea, I don’t think these comparisons are an exact science rather than a relative way of looking at your finances compared to the average Canadian. But yes, you guys are right, comparisons can be a dangerous thing.

  • Canadian Capitalist August 5, 2008, 2:46 pm

    Congratulations on the mention again FT! Thanks for the link too.

  • guinness416 August 5, 2008, 2:50 pm

    How can 68% own a home but 81% have a mortgage?

    They didn’t do under-35s then, eh. Well, my husband is older than 35; our mortgage is a hell of a lot higher than that, but my RRSP balance is higher too and I’ve only lived here three years. So I guess we’re doing okay.

    48% of under-44s having a pension is really surprisingly high to me.

  • guinness416 August 5, 2008, 2:52 pm

    Oh, also – congrats on the mention but I think they could have been a bit nicer. “No doubting his spirit” is a bit patronizing. Come on, moneysense, it’s 2008 check out all these great canuck blogs.

  • FT FrugalTrader August 5, 2008, 3:22 pm

    guinness, I guess in their eyes, compared to them we are a bunch of amateurs. :)

  • Chuck August 5, 2008, 5:17 pm

    Everyone’s circumstances are different.

    IMHO, setting goals is one thing, but you need to get both spouses to agree to what they want out of life. My financials are a little behind where I’d like to be, but I took some time out of the earning game when I went back to school.

    Sadly taxation also factors. Our tax system punishes a family like mine where one spouse earns a lot more than the other spouse (75-25 split). So even though we earn as much as the Jonses’ we have a higher tax burden and less money to invest than a couple with a more even income split between spouses.

  • Jordan Clark August 5, 2008, 5:44 pm

    Forgive my comments, because I’m still in shock from reading those net worth values. I really, really can’t believe it. For me this clearly shows the serious problem that people aren’t saving enough money anymore. It looks like on average people only save $1k for every year they are old into an RRSP. I really wish there would have been a category for my age range 25-34, but looking at this list I fear it would probably be just a few thousand dollars. How on earth does the “average” person retire at 65? Either they are going to be eating dog food, or they are surely going to bankrupt the CPP by the time it’s my turn.

  • ThickenMyWallet August 5, 2008, 6:34 pm

    The issue with “average” indicators is that they are inaccurate given extremes on either end mask the true net worth of any individual. Probably the better indicator is to look at the average household income of your census area and net worth (if provided).

    I wonder the % of people holding pensions under 35. I suspect its shockingly low.

  • Gates VP August 5, 2008, 6:55 pm

    Hey FT;

    Congrats on the mention, but I’m with guinness here, they’re a little behind the times. I mean take the very question:

    “What should my net worth be for my age?”

    I could not, in good conscience actually print an answer that amounts to “here’s the average, feel free to compare”. This is a horrible answer.

    The answer to this question is very personal. This question is analogous to “what do I plan to do with my life?”.

    Providing an answer to this question is tantamount to providing life advice. This is a bad question, any answer to this question is consequently misguided. There is no “where should I be?”, only “where am I” and “will I accomplish the lifestyle I seek with this money”.

  • Dividend Growth Investor August 5, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Congrats on becoming a true PF celebrity in Canada :-) I also believe that an under 34 column had to be made in the magazine as well .

  • DAvid August 5, 2008, 11:11 pm

    Jordan Clark,
    Do a bit of research on the CPP, and you will find it is financially secure for the future. This was not the case some years go, but it has been entirely revamped since the time when it was funded from current tx revenues.

    DAvid

  • moneygardener August 6, 2008, 12:58 am

    It absolutely is healthy to benchmark against peers. Anyone who reads MoneySense magazine likely cares about the state of their personal finances and/or their net worth.

    Obviously keeping up with the Jonses for the sake of it is unhealthy, but striving to grow net worth and checking up on your country’s averages is great. Most people who strive to keep up with the Jonses materially, won’t be reading MoneySense, and could be lagging behind in net worth anyway by taking on too much debt and consuming too much.

  • mjw2005 August 6, 2008, 3:02 am

    Here are the net worth numbers for the 25-34 age group…from the same article…

    Poorest 20% – below $1300

    Next Poorest 20% – $1300 – $9400

    Middle 20% – $9400 – $34,000

    High Middle 20% – $34,000 – $89,000

    Highest 20% – More than $89,000

    Based on these numbers I fall into the high middle category for my age group….but will have to do alot of saving to catch up to the average for the 35 – 44 age group….

    Neat article….

  • Cash Canuck August 6, 2008, 3:19 am

    I would be put off if someone gave me this answer to the question: “What should my net worth be for my age?”

    Simply showing me the median values does me no good unless I’m the median earner (be definition only 1 person is the median earner).

    What if I earn 50% less income than my neighbour of the same age and we have the same net worth? Shouldn’t your “expected” net worth take your income into consideration?

    This concept is one of the central points in Thomas Stanley’s “The Millionaire Next Door”. You will be wealthy if you consistently save more than you spend, which is largely dependent on your lifestyle, and your income. The formula he uses for expected net worth is basically Age*Income divided by 10. That’s a good starting point but it does not account for the rapid growth in earning power many young people experience. I read this book in my early 20’s and was discouraged after calculating my own wealth estimate.

    This is a very loaded question and I think much more than a survey is needed to answer it properly.

  • MoneyGrubbingLawyer August 6, 2008, 9:13 am

    MJW, thanks for the 25-34 numbers. I am surprised at just how low the middle 20% numbers are, and that it only takes a net worth of $89,000 to make it in to the top 20%. It seems to me that my generation is going to have a lot of catching up to do…

  • Gates VP August 6, 2008, 4:16 pm

    MoneyGrubbingLawyer: It seems to me that my generation is going to have a lot of catching up to do…

    I’m not really sure that’s the case. Lots of lurking variables here.

    My income doubled from age 22 to age 27. The first years post-degree tend to be very growth-heavy, plus I know some people who didn’t get their degree until 26 or 27, so they’re definitely not helping the average.

    We’re on a 15-year boom for the housing market, so some of those housing numbers are likely quite inflated. I’m 27, make 75k and I can’t justify the cost of a new home. I have lots of friends my age and very few of them have mortgages b/c they’re simply too expensive. There was a time many years ago when an engineering or teaching-level job and a couple of years experience was enough salary to justify the cost of a home (especially as a couple). That’s simply not true any more. (there was a previous post about the median income vs. median home price, it wasn’t pretty)

    I also seriously question that 50% of the 25 year olds are receiving pensions. That number is much likely closer to 25%

    We also live in a generation where people are not fixed on retiring at 65. If you’re not racing to wealth at 65 (or 55) just so you can retire, then you’re not as worried about socking away tons of income. I know tons of people living the “vagabond” existence with lots of travel and working in different countries (even with kids). I just don’t think that building up a massive net worth and then retiring to the beach is really the way our 27-year olds view the world.

  • Jon Kepler August 6, 2008, 5:04 pm

    Glad to see the 25-34 numbers posted above. What about for people under 25? Is it safe to assume their net worth is zero or negative?

  • Telly August 7, 2008, 1:57 pm

    While not quite in any of those categories yet, we seem to be doing better than “average” in terms of higher net worth, lower mortgage value, & substantially higher RRSPs (those #’s are pretty dismal). Our home value (not a bad thing imo) and pension values (thus the higher RRSPs) are lower than average though.

    Congrats FT! I forgot to mention having read that!

  • Damien August 18, 2008, 4:55 pm

    These numbers mean nothing. If you live in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, your competitions will have much higher cut-off line than the numbers above. Just like any other competition, you will always want to compare with higher standard

  • Roger September 8, 2011, 9:24 am

    Hi, I am 35 years old but live paycheck to paycheck. Being a renter and not a homeowner, I am not building any equity whatsoever, and I have no RRSP’s or TFSAs contributed since I am making $12.00 an hour which pretty much all goes to fixed expenses.

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