Topics like credit scores, retirement plans and debt are popular conversations in the U.S.'s uncertain economy, but you might not know how your financial status compares to that of your fellow citizens. Take this quiz to find out how you measure up against other Americans, and learn some informative facts behind the statistics. (Learn more about credit cards and improving your credit in 6 Major Credit Card Mistakes.)
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1) How much credit card debt does your household have?
A) Less than $5,000
B) Less than $10,000
C) More than $15,000
If you answered C, you are in the same boat as the 54 million American households that have credit card debt. The average credit card debt total per household is $15,788.
2) How many credit cards do you have?
C) 3 or more
If you answered C, your stack of credit cards is the same size as the average American with 3.5 open credit cards. Approximately 51% of the U.S. population has at least two credit cards.
3) What kind of credit card(s) do you have?
A) American Express
If you answered B, you have the same credit card as more than 270 million Americans. The second most popular form of plastic cash is Mastercard with 203 million card carriers. In 1958, American Express became the first widely accepted charge card, but now it falls behind Visa, Mastercard and Discover (54.4 million) with 48.9 million in circulation. (For additional reading, take a look at Expert Tips For Cutting Credit Card Debt.)
4) What do you spend most of your annual paycheck on?
If you answered A, your annual expenditures match those of the average American. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008), the average American consumer spends 34% of their income on housing costs which include shelter, utilities, household supplies, and home furnishings and equipment. Transportation expenditures such as vehicle purchase, gasoline and public transportation take up 17% of the average annual budget. Food, both at and away from home, comes in third at 13%.
5) What percentage of your annual income do you save?
If you answered A, you are right on target with the average American. At 6%, American savings habits are ranked last among China (30%), Switzerland (14%) and Germany (13%). Less than half of Americans report that they save regularly. The highest rate of savings was during World War II when Americans were stashing away 26% of their earnings. During the Great Depression in 1932, Americans weren't saving at all with a rate of -1.1%.
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6) What is your annual household income?
A) Less than $20,000
B) Less than $30,000
C) More than $40,000
If you chose C, you are earning as much income as the average American household. In 2009, the median household income in the U.S. was $49,777. Income tends to be highest in the Northeast and West part of the country at a median of $53,073 and $53,833 respectively. The Southern region of the U.S. has the lowest annual income median at $45,615.
7) What is (or will be) the source of your retirement income?
A) Social Security
B) Employer sponsored retirement savings plan
C) Employment income
If you chose A or C, you expect to get retirement money from the same source as 77% of working-aged Americans. Nearly the same amount of Americans, 75%, will use an employer-sponsored savings plan for their retirement income, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. (Learn more about retirement in our Retirement Planning Tutorial.)
8) What is your credit score rating?
A) Less than 600
B) 600 to 700
C) Greater than 700
If you chose B, your credit score is within the range of the average credit score in the U.S., which is 692. This is considered to be a fair to good credit rating. A credit score below 600 is generally labeled as a poor rating. A score in the 750-850 range or higher is an excellent score that will usually qualify you for the best interest rates on loans. According to Experian, residents of New England have the highest credit scores in the country at an average of 712. The West South Central region of the U.S. has the lowest average credit score at 673.
The Bottom Line
Comparisons between yourself and the average Americans can be useful to determine your financial weak spots and strong points. Hopefully completing this quiz allowed you to understand where you fit in the American financial landscape.
For the latest financial news, check out Water Cooler Finance: The Post-Stimulus Slump.