Are You Normal?

In a recent conversation with a couple in their 60s, we were discussing their retirement plans, income needs and retirement account balances when they asked an interesting question: “Are we normal?”

I clarified the question and found out what they meant: Does our current financial situation look like most 60+ year olds getting ready for retirement?

In an effort to “fit in” most people want to know that there are others going through the same thing that they are.  They find comfort in knowing that others are in the same boat.

So what is normal?


In March 2017, the Pew Research Institute released a study regarding income levels in the United States.  The report shows that the median income of US households was 8% less when comparing 1999 to 2014.  The US National Median Income was $55,775 in 2016.

The report identified Middle class as households whose annual income is two-thirds to double the national median. It defined Upper Class as Households whose income is more than double the national median.

Here’s the breakdown depending on your family size:

Using this information, we can determine a retired couple with $125,000 of income is considered Upper Class. On the other hand, a married couple with three children earning $125,000 per year is considered Middle Class.

These benchmarks can help determine if you fit into a Normal Income category.

Retirement Accounts

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), around half of all American households have no retirement savings at all.  That includes 401ks, IRAs or ROTH accounts.  For households over the age of 55, 29% have neither retirement savings nor a pension.

According to the Census Bureau, the (median) average net worth for Americans 35-44 years old is $14,226, excluding home equity.  For those in the age range of 55-64 the average net worth is $45,447.

Using the information provided, you should begin to get a good idea of where you stand financially compared with other Americans.  Typically, at HFG Trust we have found that the majority of individuals that are financially “normal” and in position to be able retire normally thanks to a goal-focused financial plan.

■ T. Michael Tallman, CFP®

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