How Do YOU Compare To The Average American, Financially?

Are you above or below the average American?

I am often spending time reading about finances, as financial independence is my goal. The best information is found on personal blogs, but I sometimes stray to the MSM personal finance sites to see what is going on.

I often regret it as it is full of low level, basic stuff. Or whining. Or some combination of the two.

But sometimes I find an interesting thing or two. The other day I found a few interesting bits of information about the ‘average’ or ‘median’ American in regards to their finances.

I found myself mentally checking where I was in relation to the responses. Here is where I stand. Read along and think about where you are, financially.

The Median U.S. Home Value Is $205,100

(not my house)

According to Zillow, my home is worth $177,000. So I live below the median, which is fine by me. I also think my house was a great investment, unlike what you will repeatedly hear on some personal finance sites. Purchased during the summer of 2014 for just over $98K, I spent a few weeks and around $10K to update it.

This is a return of 64% from the purchase and renovation costs.

The Average Indebted Graduate Owes More Than $30,000

Me? $0

I have never had a student loan in my life. Feels good man.

The Median Household Income Is $59,039

My family is single income and I earn a touch over $66K per year, slightly over the median.

The Median American Salary Is $30,533

However, the median is much lower than the average U.S. wage that brings in just shy of $46,641 a year.

My salary of $66K is 43% above the average.

Most Americans Will Retire Broke


Good news! I am well on the way towards a healthy retirement. I might have started later, but I just surpassed the $100K milestone of investments! This puts me in the top 26% of my age group.

Most Americans Don’t Think They’ll Retire in Their 60s

Neither do I.

No, I plan to be able to FIRE in just over a year, at age 37. That seems to put me in the 11% of Americans who expect to retire before 50.

A plurality of Americans Don’t Know How They’ll Finance Their Retirements

The article states that 39% of Americans have no idea where they will get the money to retire on.

I plan on a pension plus dividend income. Throwing in whatever Social Security will have for me as an extra.

29 Percent of Americans Believe They’ll Become Millionaires

Count me in that percentage!

The Root of Financial Stress Varies by State

Apparently, the main cause of financial stress in my state is debt. The only debt we have is a mortgage of under $60K. I am as stress-free as can be.

Retirement Is the Biggest Financial Fear

The survey found that 22% of Americans fear they will never retire. Another 20% fear they will always live paycheck-to-paycheck.

I am not found in either of these groups.

Most Americans Have More Savings Than Credit Card Debt

64% said so, to be exact. However, it was cautioned that respondents tend to include retirement savings in this calculation.

As I check my credit card balances, I see that it totals to a few hundred dollars. Credit cards are just free rewards to me as they get paid off every month with no interest. So yeah, I easily have more savings than credit card debt.

In America, Debt Is the Norm

Household debt is now at $13 TRILLION in the U.S. Wow, that is a big number. Sadly, I add to that number.

The average indebted respondent owes $140,113.

I am below the average at $60K in debt. It’s just the mortgage though. I plan on being completely debt free.

Most Americans Save Their Tax Refund or Use It to Pay Debt

This was surprising given the poor overall financial picture that Americans seem to be in. Mine gets invested.

Beware: The season of “Spend Your Tax Refund Here!” is coming.

The Average American Spends $688 on Rent

My mortgage payment is $715, so about $1/day higher. But since my salary is 43% higher than the average, the percentage of my income that goes towards housing is much lower.

I like to have no worries about paying the bills.

The Average Car Payment Is Now Greater Than $500

In 2016 the average car payment hit $503 with an average length of 68 months! Holy bejeezus Batman!

That’s a total of $34,204 for something that is probably worth $6,000 by the end of the loan. But that doesn’t matter as I am sure you will be tired of driving that ratty ol’ car around by then. Time for an upgrade! Treat yo self!

The dealer will be more than happy to roll whatever it is you have remaining into the new car loan. What could be better than that – you can pay for something you don’t even own anymore!

You know what I do? I buy that “old” car of yours for $6K and drive it five more years before selling it for $3K.

  • My depreciation cost for 5 years? $3K
  • The average persons? $28K

It doesn’t take long to build wealth when you aren’t paying for it to literally drive away.

Americans Spend Twice As Much Time On Social Media Than On Their Finances

The average American spends 5.3 hours per week on social media and 2.6 working on their finances.

These numbers surprise me. Wherever I look, people are nose-deep in their phones. I would think that number should be twice as large.

As for the time spent on finances, it seems ok. Time spent doesn’t really matter. If you have everything running smoothly it shouldn’t take much time at all. Unless you are a finance nerd like me, that is!

I hardly spend any time on Facebook, maybe 15 minutes per week and most of that is replying to messages. I spend a bit more on Twitter as I have been promoting my articles on SeekingAlpha and on my Steemit Blog.

I am probably reading about finances. Investments. Personal development. Not really working on my finances, but learning how to be better at them. I don’t think that counts towards what the survey was asking though. I maybe spend 30 minutes per week actually ‘working’ on my finances.

So there ya go – me in a financial nutshell.

Where do you stand? Let me know in a comment below!


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  1. fin$avvy panda

    I sometimes wish I could live in a more affordable housing city, but I would just be away from all my friends and family. When I see those overall average numbers, I’m thinking “holy moly… so relatively cheap.. u can live like a king there assuming your salary stays relatively the same or just a title but lower.”

    Unfortunately, that’s not my case! 🙁

    Btw, that’s awesome that you’re spending more time reading finances. Self development and learning is great way to get richer haha… it’s okay to binge in brainless TV shows once in a while (I’m not a fan at all.. I actually get bored) but I find too much of it can stray us away from doing more meaningful things. I hope I don’t offend anyone who reads this >.<

    Anyway, great write up here. It’s always nice to know these stats ?

    1. MrDD

      Hey, if the richest people in the world read a book a week or even 3 hours per day I think I better do that too. Books are great, of course, but there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained on the internet if you know where to look. Me? I start looking on your blog. 😀

  2. JoeHx

    According to your post, I have a below average house value (yay?), above average student loan debt (ouch!), and above average income/salary. No car payment, thankfully. No credit card debt, although I do have credit cards (for the cash back and security).

    I definitely spend more time on social media than I do with my finances, but I do spend a lot of time on my finances. I just spend a ton of time on social media!
    JoeHx recently posted…January 2018 Blog StatisticsMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Hey, with a below average house payment and above average income you should have plenty of ammo to wipe it out rather quickly if that is your main goal. You appear to be ahead of the pack!

  3. Cody @ Dollar Habits

    Thanks for sharing these numbers, Mr. DD. It is easy to get discouraged if we only compare ourselves to others in the microcosm that is the personal finance blogging space. The perspective offered by these real world numbers is refreshing.
    Cody @ Dollar Habits recently posted…How to Harness the Power of HabitsMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Those interested in personal finance are very often way ahead of the crowd – even if they still have lots of debt.

  4. Cato @thedollarbuild.com

    I think it’s always interesting to see how we stack up against the rest of society. And like Cody mentioned above, it can be a refreshing reminder that we’re actually doing well compared to average folks. Sometimes that gets lost when comparing ourselves to others in the personal finance blogging space. In any case, it’s definitely a fun and entertaining exercise!

    Plus, even personal finance enthusiasts, like ourselves, can come away with an area or two where we can stand to improve. Personally, I came away with a little extra motivation to push myself to climb into the top 10% of millennials in terms of retirement savings. going to law school gave me a late start getting to the accumulation phase, but I have a few years of millennial-hood left to go!

    Oh, and that $500 a month car payment — Yikes!!
    Cato @thedollarbuild.com recently posted…A Guide to Grass Roots Investing: How to Select Individual StocksMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      I used to have a $500 car payment… 🙁

  5. FIbythecommonguy

    Really interesting to look at all those numbers are the same time. Can really start to put things into perspective. I am not a big social media guy, maybe 15-20 minutes a week (if that). I think if people who spend hours on end could even take a portion of that time and apply it any where else in life, I think we would all be better off.
    FIbythecommonguy recently posted…DIY Basement StairsMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Social media can be a huge time sink. Think of all the people nose-deep in their phones all the time. While they could be reading educational material, I doubt it. Mostly it is looking at what their friends are doing and all that. It can be useful to keep up, but there has to be a limit somewhere.

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