Have you ever wondered how much money you’ve made… over your entire lifetime?
We see those little black numbers on our pay stubs — or, let’s be real, in our bank accounts after direct deposit — regularly enough to feel like we have a handle on our earnings.
But our wages (hopefully) change over time, and it’s easy to forget about side gigs, tips and other irregular income.
So if you could see, at a glance, the total amount of money you’ve earned over the course of your life, would you?
As it turns out, there’s a website that lets you do just that. And it might teach you a lot about your personal finances.
How Much Money Do You Make… Really?
Seeing your total lifetime earnings in actual, numerical form is kind of like checking the bottom of your shoe after you squish a particularly nasty bug.
It’s gonna be gross — and maybe even a little scary — but you’ve gotta make sure it’s really dead.
Your total lifetime earnings might shock you with their low total.
But more likely, you’ll wonder how you squandered the thousands and thousands of dollars you’ve made.
As Reddit user palmermarc handily summarizes, “I’ve actually made significantly more than I thought… And yet, I’m broke.
“[Expletive deleted] my life.”
Either way, you know you want to take a peek.
Take a deep breath. When you’re ready to satisfy that morbid curiosity, head on over to My Social Security. Make an account, and then click on the “Earnings Record” tab.
See those big numbers in the final column? Grab a calculator and add ‘em up. If you’ve been working for a while, you might want to use a spreadsheet.
The grand total is your lifetime earnings, before taxes and obviously not including any money you don’t report. (Don’t cheat on your taxes, kids.)
So there it is, revealed, for better or for worse.
And no matter how you feel about your total, it probably gives you a sense of how much more you could be doing with your money.
(Friends to the north, you can check the Canada Revenue Agency for this info.)
Money Management, Budgeting Help and More
Even if you make a pretty decent wage, it’s easy to feel like it’s never quite enough.
After all, living within your means is hard work. Even millionaires have to budget if they want to keep the title.
If you can’t believe how much money you’ve earned when there’s always next to nothing in your bank account, keep reading. We have some great ways to help you finally get ahead and save some serious cash.
Here’s how to save your first $1,000 and break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Once you’ve got some cushioning in your account, you can start to get serious about budgeting and setting financial goals.
One quick way to save a giant chunk of change? Start spending your grocery money more carefully. Here are some of our favorite ridiculous (but effective!) ways to save money on groceries.
Alternatively, you might be disappointed by how low your total is after working hard for years on end. But not to worry: We’ve got resources for you, too.
If you want to see your total earnings increase… you need to earn more money.
That low-ball total got you feeling really radical? Consider switching to one of these high-paying careers that don’t require a college degree… or taking the plunge and finally getting your freelance business on its feet.
No matter what you decide, congratulate yourself on confronting the truth and making some decisions.
It wasn’t that bad, was it?
Your Turn: How much money have you made in your lifetime? Did your total shock you because it was too low… or way higher than you expected?
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a freelance writer whose work has been featured at Ms. Magazine, BUST, Roads & Kingdoms, The Write Life, Nashville Review, Word Riot and elsewhere. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida.