How Rich Am I Relative To Others

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Relative Wealth Based on IncomeThe table to the right shows where your household stands, relative to others, based on how much income is earned per year. For example, if your household makes $50,000 a year you would be making more than 56% of American households. At $100,000, you make more than 81% of Americans. To be in the 99% percentile, or in the “1%” as the media likes to call it, your household needs to be earning more than $500,000 annually. On the other hand, earning less than $2,500 a year puts you in the bottom 1%.

An important distinction to note with the figures is that they reflect household income not personal earnings. So if a household has 2 or 3 people making over $50,000 it then puts their household income at $150,000 or in the 89th percentile. Even though. individually at $50,000, they make around the average median income. On an individual basis you need to make more than $388,000 to be among the top 1% of earners, according to the most recent IRS income data.

Now I know people will protest and say, income does not equal wealth. I agree. Income is just one measure of financial success and by itself it does not capture the entire picture. For example how does someone earning say $100,000 a year, but living in a house ‘underwater’, with car payments, etc and virtually no savings compare with another having a $50,000 per year income but owning their home outright, owning their car outright and with a ton of savings in their retirement and savings accounts?

If fact, among the two primary measures of financial well being, income and net worth, the latter is by far the most important. As the old saying goes it’s not how much you make, it’s how much have. So rather than get fixated with percentages and what you make relative to others, spend the energy and time trying to improve yourself, educating yourself, and working smarter. You will probably then end up making enough to comfortably support yourself, your family and even increase your chances of moving up the wealth ladder.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

gail September 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

This is a typical response from at least one end of the political spectrum. The “calculator” focuses on the number, as though the number were the issue. So what if the number is not 99%? Maybe the actual number is 80%. Maybe it’s 60%. It doesn’t matter. The point is that there are a bunch of people, a majority, who feel like there’s something really wrong with the power distribution in this country.

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Kurt @ Money Counselor September 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I’d love to see this on a global basis…

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gail September 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm

On a global scale at globalrichlist dot com. Worldwide half the people make less than $5000/year. In the US only 3% make less than that. I don’t think we know what poor is. Nor do we know what rich is. in the US I am in the top 18%. Worldwide I am in the top 1%. We have this advantage because of capitalism. The pressures of Occupy Wall Street will not destroy the wealthy, it will destroy everyone else including the American poor to point to where their income is more in line with the poor of the rest of the world.

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mikeg September 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

WTF. And I thought i was poor making $72K a year as a 30 year old. Based on the above table, that makes me richer than 70% of American households??? Really. I barely make ends meet with my income. We must really be getting poorer as a nation!

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rigix April 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

mikeg – I don’t know what you do or where you live, but don’t you realize that you make more than most other people in this country and almost everybody else in the world? I’m sure you have very high living expenses and lots of very expensive hobbies or maybe you just drink it down on the weekends, but most people have a hard time paying for food and an apartment and transportation to get to their $30K job while supporting a kid or two. But, I’m sure you’ve made all the “right” decisions and feel you are better than everybody beneath you. BTW, I make $50K and still have money to donate to good causes and the less fortunate. Grow up.

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