Five Easy Ways to See How You Stack Up Financially With Your Peers

On Wednesday, I discussed how keeping up with the Joneses can sometimes benefit you. Simply put, discussing money with your friends and family will help motivate you to pursue your money goals and make better choices. 

Don’t worry if you haven’t been able to muster up the courage yet to talk openly with others. Several options exist that allow you to compare how you stack up with similarly-situated people, without leaving the comfort of your couch.  

1.)   U.S. Census Bureau:  Yes, Census data isn’t the most up to date. But the depth of information is pretty useful. I love looking at stats like the percentage of the population in Chicago that have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the median household income, and the home ownership rate.  The census data can provide a useful starting point to see where you stand in the city that you live in and the nation as a whole.

2.) I initially found this site during my first review at work. It compiles data about salaries for different types of jobs in a wide array of fields. You can mine the free data by registering or pay for a full salary report.  I used it to show my boss how my salary stacked up to others in the industry. It can also give you a salary to shoot for when you are interviewing for a new job.

3.)   LearnVest – The Face of Personal Finance: I’ve come across a few cool surveys from LearnVest, a financial planning company that “helps people live their richest lives.” This survey in particular questioned a representative sampling of U.S. adults regarding their attitudes about money and where they stood financially (i.e., analyzing how much they had in retirement, savings, credit card debt, etc.). Here are some stats that I found interesting:

  1. The average amount participants have available each month for discretion spending varied from $631 to $1,180
  2. Fifty-three percent of women and 44 percent of men feel underpaid.
  3. Sixty-five percent of women and 72 percent of men with student loan debt still think the money was worth it  

4.)   Income Upshot: This has become one my favorite tool ever since I found it through Market Place Money.  It not only compares your income to where you live but also gives lifestyle attributes like whether you are more likely to be married, have a dog, or drink wine. Obviously those last few categories are fact specific, but it’s still an interesting exercise.

5.) Another survey site like the Income Upshot that takes you through a series of questions about your savings, spending, investing, debt, and planning. It gives you an immediate comparison to people in your same situation.  It even offers a report at the end to print off.

All of these sites can provide interesting context for where you stand financially, especially when you have a hard time talking with friends or family about your situation. Granted, no general survey can really speak to your individual circumstances, but it can give you a great starting point to where you may lag in your personal finances.