With the Mark Zuckerburgs and Michelle Phans of the world, it’s easy to assume that top Gen Y earners are raking in hundreds of thousands a year. But millennials might be closer to the top than they think.

To find out where you rank in comparison to other millennials, put your salary into this calculator and prepare to feel better or worse about your yearly price tag.

In the U.S., a salary of about $106,500/year will put young adults ahead of 99% of their peers. A salary of $50,000 will put you in the top 15% of earners.

By comparison, the average salary in Canada is just over $49,00 a year and a salary of about $191,000 will put you in the top 1% of earners in all of Canada (regardless of age). It’s not until you start looking at the top one-tenth of the top 1% that earnings reach into the seven-figure range.

Should millennials be earning more money?

A report released by the Conference Board of Canada in 2014 found that the income difference between 50- to 54-year-olds and 25- to 29-year-olds has jumped substantially in the past 30 years.

According to the report, the average disposable income of today’s 50- to 54-year-olds is 64% higher than 25- to 29-year-olds, compared with a gap of 47% in the mid-1980s. The report is based on 27 years of income data.

While cost of living is going up, salaries aren’t growing to match, and fewer companies are offering built-in financial planning like a pension or retirement savings plan.

Lower wages, unpaid internships and a competitive job market mean that millennials are living at home longer and getting married later. And if they are buying a home, 28% of first-time home buyers in Canada are getting help from the bank of mom and dad, especially in big cities (that number grows to 35% in Toronto and 40% in Vancouver).

I’m lucky to work for the government where I earn a decent entry-level salary that I top up with a good part-time job. But as I move into my late 20s, I can’t responsibly afford to live on my own. And for now, the only roommates I’m willing to live with are roommates that will pay the rent (thanks mom and dad!).

I think about money a lot. Should I move to a more affordable city? How long is too long to live with my parents? How much is too much to spend on rent?
Until my post-grad twenties, I didn’t consider how much money I would need to living the life I imagined. I must have assumed that once I started earning a salary, any salary, I would be able to live an independent ‘adult’ life. I assumed wrong.

Does money buy happiness? When I’m spending my commute to work dreaming about owning a dog and settling into the first home that I can call my own, I want to say yes. But for now, I’m trying to enjoy the luxury of rent-free living. The free groceries and occasional chauffeur service doesn’t hurt either.


Nicole Wray is a member of Generation Y and a regular contributor to Workopolis.
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