I ran across an interesting website the other day. It's called the Global Rich List and if you type in your annual income, it tells you just where you rank among the 6 billion people on earth, in terms of wealth. For example, if you're a public school teacher earning, say, $50,000 per year, you'll learn that "You are the 59,029,289th richest person in the world!" It also tells you that you're in the top 0.98% of people, by wealth.
Knowing that half of the people in the world get by on less than roughly $2 per day, I tried typing in $700 as an annual income, and learned that "You are the 3,771,428,572th richest person in the world!" The percentile? In the top 62.85%. It took an annual income of $850 to put me at the 50 percentile mark, ranked about three billionth.
So given all this, for most of us, the answer to the title of this article is probably "pretty darn well!"
The smaller picture
So that's the big picture. But if you live in America and you hope to buy a home or pay off your mortgage while providing for your family, eating out now and then, traveling a bit, educating your children, and enjoying a comfortable retirement. well, being in the top 63% just won't cut it.
Here are a few more statistics to help you figure out where you really stand.
- Some 70% of Americans own their home. If you're among them, congratulations! Owning a home offers many benefits and some security.
- About 42% of Americans own retirement accounts.
- The average savings rate for Americans is ... zippo. That's right -- in 2005, the national savings rate was negative, meaning we're spending more than we're saving. So if you've even saved just $5, you're ahead of the game.
- According to the American Payroll Association, 65% of Americans depend on their next paycheck to meet current living expenses.
- According to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey, 68% of current workers say they and their spouses have accumulated less than $50,000 in retirement savings. Yikes. If you're 50 years old and have saved just $40,000 for retirement, it will grow to just $167,000 by the time you hit 65, at an annual growth rate of 10%, the market's historic average. Try living off $167,000 for another 25 years! A more reasonable goal is retiring with $2 million, which can yield an annual income of $80,000.
What it means
So what can you take away from this kind of information? Well, if you find that you're fairly flush with funds, you can pat yourself on the back -- while you shudder for many of the people you know and love.
Odds are, you realize that you're far better off than many people on the planet. (And by the way -- please join us in supporting some amazing charities that are helping those less fortunate, via our annual Foolanthropy drive). But you probably also realize that your situation has considerable room for improvement.
What you can do
Don't settle for your status quo. You can improve your lot in several simple but extremely powerful ways:
- Save more
- Spend more wisely
- Invest more
- Invest more effectively
Know that you don't have to tackle these tasks alone. We would love to help you in each of them. The following articles will give you some great ways to start:
I also strongly recommend our new, low-cost Motley Fool GreenLight service. It offers a terrific blend of basic investment advice coupled with personal finance guidance. You'll get loads of tips on where to find bargains and how to maximize your money, among other things. Try it for free with no obligation. Whether or not you're ready to invest, GreenLight can help you learn to effectively pay down your debt, save money each month, and make sure your bank account is working for you.
And here's one final tip that I'll whisper in your ear: mutual funds. Find some outstanding ones and they can offer you growth rates that top the market's 10% average. The Thompson Plumb Growth Fund
Selena Maranjian owns shares of Time Warner and Coca-Cola. Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Coca-Cola and First Data are Inside Value choices. Thompson Plumb Growth Fund is a Champion Funds selection. The Motley Fool isFools writing for Fools.