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When you're just starting out and juggling student loan debt and an entry-level salary, it's not surprising if you don't have much to your name. But as you move into adulthood and grow in your career, it's likely your net worth will grow, too.
Of course, age isn't the only factor in determining net worth, which is calculated by subtracting how much debt you owe from the total value of your assets (cash, investments, property, etc.). It varies widely depending on a person's income, employment status, life stage, cost of living, inheritances and more. But this number can be helpful to know where you stand financially, and where you want to go.
According to the Fed, the median net worth for people under 35 is $13,900. The average net worth is $76,300. Very high net worth Americans skew the average numbers higher, so it's helpful to look at the median to have a better sense of where most Americans fall on the net worth spectrum.
Here's a breakdown of both median and average American net worth by age, according to the Fed's latest Survey of Consumer Finances from 2019.
Source: The Federal Reserve
Your net worth is fluid and constantly changing as you borrow, save, invest and pay back money. In your later years, after life's biggest (and most expensive) milestones are paid for, your net worth has the potential to keep growing thanks to the stock market and the value of your assets appreciating.
Use a net worth calculator to plug in your numbers and find out where you stand today. This will be your starting point and help you think big picture about how the financial choices you make right now might impact your future.
Budgeting apps such as You Need a Budget (YNAB), Personal Capital and Mint make it easy to track your net worth. Users link their financial accounts, including checking, savings, money markets, CDs and retirement accounts. This also goes for liabilities: Add any credit cards and/or loans so that you have an up-to-date snapshot of your net worth as you pay off debt and see your debt balances down and your net worth go up.
To grow your wealth, make saving and investing a priority at an early age. Think about how much you want to have saved in the future and break it down into smaller payments you can afford today. Thanks to compound interest, saving 15% of your paychecks every month starting when you get your first job could help you earn up to 10 times your income by retirement age.
Beyond savings, real estate is a common way that people build their net worth. While renting affords you flexibility and could save you on home repair and maintenance costs, putting equity into a home helps your net worth grow as property values increase. It's not completely without risk, but the real estate market does tend to give back if you're patient.
Think ahead and take advantage of high-yield savings accounts and/or CDs to earn higher interest on your savings. The five-year Ally Bank High Yield CD ranks on Select's list of the top CDs and has a fixed 0.85% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) that's nearly three times the national five-year CD average.
Check out our full roundup of savings products to find the best fit for your needs.
A popular travel rewards credit card for those with good/excellent credit:
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If you have no credit history or fair/average credit:
- Earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away and up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments; plus, 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants.
If you're looking to refinance your student loans:
- No application fees, no origination fees and no early payoff penalty; plus, SoFi members have access to free career coaching and financial advice from planners. SoFi also offers the SoFi Credit Card, rewarding cardholders when they use the cash back earned from eligible purchases to pay down their SoFi Student Loan.
If it's time to upgrade your savings account:
- Strong Annual Percentage Yield and no monthly fees, plus 24/7 customer support. You have easy access to your money and there's no minimum balance requirement. American Express also offers some of the best cards.
Terms Apply. Products featured here are partner offers. Opinions expressed have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Information about the SoFi Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
Petal 2 Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank.
*American Express National Bank is a Member FDIC