We recently conducted a survey with the Money with Katie audience on Instagram, and the results shocked us. We had asked for a handful of economic data points, like age, location, what people spend money on, and how much their household earns. I’m not sure what we were expecting to hear, but it wasn’t this:

The median income for married couples in our data set was $217,000; the median for single earners was $119,000. 

After we reviewed the results, we got on a call. “Wait,” one of our team members said, trailing off. “Are our readers…rich?” Well, it certainly appears that way for those who took the time to fill out the survey, huh?!

There’s a lot of selection bias at play, of course: This is an audience that seeks out personal finance advice, has the disposable time to fill out a survey about their money, and probably felt comfortable enough with sharing their data because they were proud of it. 

Still, it made me curious enough to go poking around for data that could help me make sense of the gaping disparity between the widely reported “median income” numbers and what I was seeing within our community.

Pitying the Joneses

Part of the reason the results were surprising in our #CurrentEconomicEnvironment is because the general consensus across society right now is that…well, the struggle is real. Every three years, the Federal Reserve tries to understand the economic wellbeing of consumers. They ask how they’re feeling about their own finances, as well as about the state of the economy as a whole.

Here’s the weird thing: When asked how they think everyone else is doing, survey respondents were quick to tell the Fed that the economy is trash. But when asked about their own financial situation, they felt decidedly rosier. The last time people felt this “okay” about their own finances, the number of people rating the national economy as “good or excellent” was more than twice as high:

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