June 2011: Net worth

Financial Security Index survey chart

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Please think about your net worth, or your total assets including real estate equity minus your debts. How would you describe your net worth compared to 12 months ago?

  • Roughly one of every three of respondents with incomes of more than $50,000 felt their net worth was higher.
  • Only 15 percent of respondents 65 and older felt their net worth was higher, while nearly twice as many, 28 percent, felt it was lower.
  • Of respondents from 30 to 49 years old, equal numbers felt their net worth was higher and lower — 27 percent.

To say that their net worth has improved while the real estate market is in free fall just doesn't compute.

Frank Armstrong III, CFP

Investor Solutions, Miami, Fla.

About half of people feel that their net worth is about the same as it was 12 months ago. Of the remaining half, nearly half feel better and half feel worse. While there is some evidence that they have lowered their credit card bills outstanding, it is hard to see that the deleveraging has progressed to a point that people ought to feel better. Given the rate of unemployment, the vast shrinkage in the value of houses and the incomplete recovery in the stock market, it's hard to believe that most people's net worth has actually not changed or improved in the last 12 months. Maybe it just tells me that everyone is repressing it -- or like Scarlett O'Hara, 'I'll think about it tomorrow.'

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