How the average person's wealth doubles from about age 30 to 40

Paying off study debts coupled with wage growth can make a big difference.

When you're 20-something, getting some money runs on the board can seem impossible. A little like your legs are stuck in "just-starting-out" cement.

But take heart, by the mid-30s, the average Aussie is off and away.

Australians aged 35-44 are twice as well off as those 10 years younger, shows research by finder.com.au.

By this older age bracket, the average net household worth is $573,300, according to the analysis of income, housing and assets data from the latest ABS Household Income and Wealth report.

At every age and stage

Age group Where to focus economic effort
25 - 34 Build a career
  Pay off student debt
  Save a house deposit
  Accelerate house repayments
  Insure assets, income and life
  $268,800 average net worth
35 - 44 Ensure commensurate pay
  Accelerate house repayments
  Start salary sacrificing into super
  Invest outside super (for safety)
  Insure assets, income and life
  $573,300 average net worth
45 - 54 Deploy potentially peak pay
  Discharge mortgage debt if any
  Tip money into super
  Invest outside super (for safety)
  Insure assets, income and life
  $944,900 average net worth

* Source: The Money Mentor Way

At least people aged 25-34 have something to look forward to while their household net worth is less than half of that (53% less), at an average $268,800.

This is the greatest wealth divide between any generation of Australians aged 25 and over. (Naturally those younger than that have far less.)

But in probably more reassuring news, there's an almost triumphant leap across the decade commencing in the mid-30s – far larger than any other same-length period of a person's life.

As Bessie Hassan, money expert at finder.com.au, tells me: "The 35-44 age group have often finished paying off study loans and it's the biggest jump in investment in shares than any other cohort. Wage growth coupled with financial investments really start to take effect at this age."

In fact, a pay packet usually 15% fatter than it was at 25-34 helps subsidise more than double the amount of property assets, with a far smaller mortgage. If you want the beat-yourself-up benchmark, the younger bracket has net housing assets of $106,400 versus $286,100 for the older.

And superannuation assets, which are typically mainly invested in equities, are also on average almost double – $51,100 versus $99,500.

This is Einstein's eighth wonder of the world – investment compounding, or earning returns on returns on returns over time – finally beginning to reveal its power.

Yes, you can expect to get comfier still between 45 and 54, but your bottom line will only grow by 65% on the previous decade (as opposed to 113% between that and the one before that) – to $944,900.

By then, you should be enjoying even higher income and owning more valuable assets (that magic compounding again). Income is typically up 8% at potentially a person's peak lifetime pay. And with mortgages and munchkins possibly gone, this is the time you can expect your disposable income to be highest.

There's an average 60% more wealth in housing, $458,400, and 81% more in super, $180,300. This age bracket is also the most likely to have wealth derived from private businesses; assets outside of super – prudent in case of future crackdowns on tax or access – more than double to $213,400 (at 25-34 they are $61,500 and at 35-44, $103,400).

And, if you're feeling relaxed and comfortable reading this, perhaps it's because the proportion of net millionaires – of any age – has increased dramatically in the past 10 years - 16% of us had no need for Eddie McGuire in 2003-2004, while 23% don't now (based on the most recent data, 2013-2014).

At least that's the theory. Of course the reality is different for all of us.

 

This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 October 2016. It represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

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