Social Question

Linda_Owl's avatar

Do you know that our government says that the average median worth of individuals 65 or older is $170,494.oo? If you are this age, is your net worth that much?

Asked by Linda_Owl (7717 points ) November 7th, 2011

Personally, my net worth is not anywhere near this amount, & in my opinion this figure will be used by Congress to put Senior Citizens directly in their cross-hairs for cuts to Social Security.

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25 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

How are we defining “net worth” here? Montary yearly income? In that case. yes, it’s a lot. If you factor in housing and other property considerations, it’s not nearly so much.

Cruiser's avatar

Here is a net worth calculator. Do both the assets and liability calculations and you will have an approximation of your net worth.

Linda_Owl's avatar

http://news.yahoo.com/us-wealth-gap-between-young-old-widest-ever-050259922.html

the link above is the story that I based my question on. all of my limited assets do not amount to $170,494.oo (even when you factor in my life insurance policy ! )

JLeslie's avatar

I’m younger, only 43. That number sounds very possible to me as an average. The problem is averages never tell the whole story. People can be very below and very above to make that average.

CaptainHarley's avatar

OMG! ROFLMFAO!!!! I wish! Heh!

rojo's avatar

If we are actually discussing net worth, if you own, or will own, your house at 65; would that not put you close to that limit? I think the median home cost is running somewhere in this range. So, barring any further cratering of the housing market MOST homeowners should fall within the stated range without even including income. How could that be used to get to you? Hmmm.

CWOTUS's avatar

“Average” and “median” are two terms that help to establish “measures of central tendency” (along with “mode”), but they are not equivalent terms.

“Average” is “the sum of all of the members of the group divided by the number of members”, and “median” is “the middle value in an ordered list of values”.

So. Which do you mean?

This is one of the reasons why Social Security is such a gigantic ripoff.

smilingheart1's avatar

Wouldn’t that be the case for a homeowner with the house actually paid off. One would be worth much more than that?

This reminds me of the statement by Tony Robbins and guru types, that only 3% of the North American population could afford (with the economy in tact) to retire without government pension.

flutherother's avatar

I might be getting close by the time I’m 65 if you include the flat.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS All are averages. You are using the word average equivalent to “mean average.” It says in the originial question it is the median average.

janbb's avatar

Does anyone really expect that even someone with a total net worth of $170,000 (this means both liquid and non-liquid assets) at 65 is going to be able to exist on that for the rest of their lives?

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb That’s what I was thinking.

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie No, they aren’t all average. @CWOTUS is correct. If we have a median net worth of 170K for those 65 or older, then the average net worth is probably millions or more. Averages usually give the wrong impression, and that’s why we use median. It shows the middleth person’s net worth.

@janbb No. No one is expecting a person to live for the rest of their lives on that net worth. People will have to continue to work probably until they die. I’m guessing, and this is off the top of my head, that you net a net worth of upwards of $800K at age 65 in order to be able to retire without having to work any more. And that’s with a low standard of living—expenses of maybe 50–60K per year. People may choose to work in retirement, but I think most people are going to be forced to work in retirement. This is because most people don’t save nearly as much as they could (spend now, why worry about later?) and because the economy has killed a lot of people’s retirement savings.

I think this is a scary net worth. It means that the vast majority of people (I’m assuming a leftward skew to the net worth curve) will never really be able to retire. They will have to work, and when they become disabled, they will end up in nursing homes on Medicaid—which our children and grand children will have to pay for. Many will refuse to go, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an uptick in suicides among the elderly in the next few decades.

You’re only going to be able to develop a good retirement plan if you’ve been saving since you were in your 20s. By the time you are at age 65, it’s too late to develop enough retirement savings. You will have to work as long as you can. Retirement will only be for the upper middle class and the wealthy, and of course, these are the ones who will want to work. They have interesting jobs.

I hope I’m wrong. For myself, my wife and I have been saving since our thirties (when we married) and it has put us in a position where we may not have to work past age 65 if we don’t want to. Actually, my wife has “retired” already (she’s over 50 and quit a horrible job), but she’s looking for work that is a better fit for her. I had been planning to retire early, but due to the economy, that plan is on hold. A guy can dream, can’t he?

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t get it, are you saying mean, mode, and median are not all different types of averages? And, I said in my first answer averages never tell the whole story, even the median average.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I think the majority of America has no plan or clue about having enough money to retire. I have many many friends who think having $50k in the bank is a lot, and they make good middle class incomes. Obviously people who are poor practically have no chance, but my friends should be saving more in my opinion. Some do, some plan and save like crazy, don’t get me wrong.

YARNLADY's avatar

I am 68 soon to be 69, and my net worth is about 3 times that.

rojo's avatar

From a personal point of view, I can remember thinking “Meh, I probably won’t make it to retirement and even if I do, it will work out somehow”. The older I get, the more concerned I become that I might actually get to retire and the more pressured I feel to play catch-up and put something, anything away for later. I am such a grasshopper.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes @JLeslie, they are not different forms of averages. There is only one average, and @CWOTUS gave you the formula. He also told you what median is. These are all ways of looking at central tendencies, but they are not averages. There is no such thing as a “median average.”

Average does not, indeed, tell the story. We use median and mode depending on what we are trying to get at. With income, sociologists seem to prefer to use median. In addition to these measures of central tendency, you should also be interested in distribution and standard deviation, so you can understand something about the variability of the population you are looking at.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Well, when I was in school they taught it all as different types of averages. I am not saying I am right, just saying why I thought that. I just looked it up on wikipedia, and if I understand correctly it is saying the same as I am saying. Averages speak to central tendencies and mean, mode, and median, are all considered averages. Or, am I reading it wrong?

I know the differences between mean, median and mode, that is not what I am asking, just to be clear.

Judi's avatar

I’m not in my 60’s yet, but my net worth is more than that. It sure isn’t liquid though.

Linda_Owl's avatar

There have been some interesting responses to my question. For @rojo , I do not own my house (my ‘house’ is a mobile home on which I am still making payments). It is possible that my financial situation would have been better if I had made better decisions in my life, but I have no way of knowing. I retired in May of this year (on Widow’s Benefits from my late husband), otherwise I would not have been able to retire.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I guess some of the elderly I work with have a home and it would cost that low to sell it. But that’s not their income and their income is abysmal.

CWOTUS's avatar

“Mean” (which means the same as “average”), “median” and “mode” are measures of central tendency. It’s not correct to say that “they’re all the same”.

“Mean” or “average” can be insufficient, because the outlier values can really skew the curve. As @wundayatta implied, if even a relatively small number of people have exorbitant fortunes, then “the average person” may not be represented by the “average wealth” that such a number would represent.

“Median” is just a measure of “what is the wealth of the ‘middle person’ in the sample group”. In other words, in an ordered list of, say 1001 people ordered by their net worth, what is the net worth of the 500th person? That’s a “median” value. It may or may not be close to the average.

Finally, the “mode” is “the value that is represented the most in the sample”. Let’s say that you have a selection of 1001 people, and 100 of them have net assets of $0. If no other value is so heavily represented, then the mode for the group is $0. Obviously, that wouldn’t be the average for the group that we’re talking about.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS I did not say they are all the same, I said they are all averages. Of course they are not all the same. I know how to find median, mean, and mode. If they are not all considered averages, why are they all listed under the wikipedia page for averages?

Ron_C's avatar

Sure, if you take my house and money that I was able to save that is my net worth. All I need to loose all of it is a major accident or sickness. That is a very small cushion between me and homelessness. A younger person, with the same assets is in a much better position because they are less likely to become sick and more likely to find employment to increase their net wealth.

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