Do you know how your income compares to others in the US that are the same age as you?

One of the biggest levers one can pull to accelerate their F-you money timeline happens to be income. It dictates how much you can save, invest, and enjoy your life!

As a younger Duke, I have become more and more interested in using income percentiles to gauge my potential earnings rate and current situation. Our annual salary differentiates how quickly we can traverse the path to build our kingdoms, so why not focus on managing the opportunities to increase it?

Determining Your Income Percentile

Before jumping into calculations – let’s define what a percentile is.


Straight from Google: “each of the 100 equal groups into which a population can be divided according to the distribution of values of a particular variable.”
In other words, the 100th percentile is the top income for your age, 0 is the least.

Calculating Your Income Percentile by Age

I’ve found a very easy to use tool that helps you quickly determine your income percentile by age: Income Percentile by Age Calculator. Once calculated, this very simple number can provide you with motivation to begin managing your salaries like true professionals and high earners do.

The reason I believe this provides motivation is two-fold. First, it puts in perspective where you currently are and second, it gives you an idea of what your potential earnings can be! Even those in the 1% percentile are making progress, and happiness isn’t decided by income percentiles…it is decided by you and what you already have.

I want to make sure to reiterate this because this article is to give you tips on raising your income, giving you another tool in your kingdom toolbox!

Related: Make a comeback like the Patriots did in the 2017 Superbowl

Action 1: Manage Your Career

Have you ever heard of Netflix? Probably. Did you know that they treat their employees and company culture the same way sports teams do?

A Netflix Story

During your orientation at Netflix, you are shown a slide with the following message:

“We’re a team, not a family

We’re like a pro sports team, not a recreational team

Coaches’ job at every level of Netflix to hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have starts in every position”

Woah there! What in the world does this actually mean for new hires? It means that Netflix doesn’t mind cutting employees who’s role on the team isn’t needed. Some may find this very disheartening, but that’s not the reason for their message. Would you want to keep working somewhere where your skillset isn’t needed or used? Probably not. One story goes that an early employee back in their movie delivery days worked there for years through thick and thin. She absolutely loved her job and the company and the team loved having her fill the role of packing discs for delivery.


Netflix stopped shipping DVDs and moved into the streaming world. The employee that was on the team was asked to leave as the team no longer needed that role! She wasn’t angry and felt it made sense for her, because there wasn’t a position in the streaming company for her anyways!

Summing up the story, the point we’re trying to make here is this: at any company, you are not part of the family. It doesn’t matter what the culture states, when it cuts right down to the chase you are doing a job that they are paying you for. Most of the time, your job is providing more value to the company than they are paying you, meaning that they are making money from you working there.

You have a job, you do that job, you get paid to do it.

So how do you get paid more to do that job?

Managing Your Next Promotion

Boiling it down, managing your career comes down to four steps:

1. Define the expectations for your current role

If you already have your job, whether it is new or not, the first step to getting your next promotion begins with expectations. Here’s the money question: What are your objectives and what is expected of you?

Once you and your manager have agreed on this (for the year, or quarter, etc.), make sure they are written down and documented.

2. Define the expectations for your next role

An employee looking to grow with a plan of action for doing so is how you change from luck of the draw promotions to making them happen instead. These should be defined with quantifiable objectives if possible.

Ask your manager what growth opportunities are available and what is required to get there. Document it. Document it. DOCUMENT IT :).

2. Set up meetings with your manager

After you have defined the expectations for your current role at the company (basically for the current salary you have), then set up weekly meetings to give updates to your manager on each of those objectives and expectations. Your manager can’t see you meeting or exceed them if you never tell him.

Updates should include quantifiable data to show your progress.

3. Exceed Expectations

You have defined your current role expectations and the expectations for your future one. Now put in the work to exceed your current role by starting to take on tasks or responsibilities for your next one!

Every single week (or 2) you continually update your manager on progress.

4. Demonstrate you’ve met the requirements for your next role

You’ve met expectations for your current role, your manager knows your interested in the next step, and you have shown them you met the expectations to be promoted.

The next step is really up to you and on your company culture. You can ask for your promotion, wait to see how your manager reacts, or talk to HR. Either way, you have factually proven you exceeded current expectations and met future ones. Increase that income percentile!

Action 2: Side Hustles

The second option outside of grinding out at your career is side hustles. Instead of listing these out on our own blog, we decided to link to three of our favorite lists instead.

  1. J. Money’s 70 Ways to Make Money
  2. Michelle’s Extra Money Series
  3. Side Hustle Nation

These are a bit more obvious for action. Make time to make money. By taking on a few side hustles to increase your annual earnings, you can begin increasing your percentile!

Short, sweet, and to the point!


Income percentiles by age opens the doors to realistic, data-driven benchmarks on progress in personal finance and in your life. By using metrics and real data, you can truly see where you are and by taking the two actions above, where you can be!

Thanks for reading!! Tell us what you think and if you are taking any actions to increase your income percentile this year!