Bernie Sanders’ net worth is $528,014. Our Bernie Sanders net worth calculations come from analyzing his U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.
U.S. Senators aren’t required to disclose their exact net worth. The closest anyone can get to Bernie Sanders’ net worth is to dig through disclosure forms and do the math. Since senators report assets and debts within preset ranges, finding Bernie Sanders’ net worth means averaging reported max and min figures.
In August of 2015, Bernie Sanders reported net worth assets at a minimum of $187,026 and a max of $759,004. Sanders also owns a condominium in Vermont valued at about $100,000. He has debts of at least $25,002 and as much as $65,000.
Figuring Sanders’ maximum possible debt and minimum possible assets gives a minimum possible Bernie Sanders net worth of $222,026. Figuring lowest possible debt and highest possible assets gives a net worth a high as $769,002. Combining average assets with average debt gives an average Bernie Sanders net worth of $528,014.
Donald Trump has called Sanders a “wacko.” Sanders has argued that Trump is pushing policies intended to help only himself and other billionaires like him. Sanders claims Trump’s plan is to ride into office with the help of misguided members of the working class.
— The Nightly Show (@nightlyshow) January 6, 2016
Above the Rose Parade, a skywriter wrote, “America is great, Trump is disgusting, anyone but Trump.” On 1/5/16 on The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore accused Sanders of being behind the skywriting. Sanders defended himself, saying, “I don’t have to spend money to make Donald Trump look dumb. He does it all by himself.” Watch the clip below.
Sanders is at least tentatively on the primary ballot in several states, including Ohio, New Hampshire, Texas, Vermont, Alabama and Virginia. Sanders is the only candidate to get on the ballot in Texas through voter signatures rather than by paying a fee.
Bernie Sanders Net Worth Facts
- Bernie Sanders net worth: $528,014 (August 2015 average)
- Bernie Sanders net worth estimate from May 2015: $440,511
- Out of 100 U.S. Senators, Bernie Sanders’ net worth is #86.
- Bernie Sanders minimum possible net worth 2015: $222,026
- Bernie Sanders maximum possible net worth 2015: $769,002
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Jeb Bush net worth: 40 times smaller.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Carly Fiorina net worth: 112 times smaller.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Hillary Clinton net worth: 47 times smaller.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Bill & Hillary Clinton net worth combined: 230 times smaller.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Donald Trump net worth: 10,795 times smaller.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs median U.S. household net worth: 7.8 times larger.
- Bernie Sanders net worth vs Bill Gates net worth: 151,515 times smaller.
We estimate Bernie Sanders’ net worth at $528,014. That’s 7.8 times larger than the net worth of the median American family. However, since all senator net worths are estimates, it’s possible Bernie Sanders’ net worth is much lower. In fact, Bernie Sanders’ net worth could be as low as $222,026. That’s 3.3 times larger than the net worth of the median American family. Finally, the Bernie Sanders net worth average of $528,014 is about twice the net worth of others in his age group.
Compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s combined net worth of $121 million, Bernie Sanders’ net worth of $528,014 is 230 times smaller. Compared to Bill Gates’ net worth of $80 billion, Bernie Sanders’ net worth is 151,515 times smaller. Finally, Jeb Bush has an estimated net worth of about $21 million. That’s 40 times larger than Bernie Sanders’ net worth.
Bernie Sanders Net Worth Over Time
According to Center for Responsive Politics and Money Nation data:
- Bernie Sanders Net Worth August 2015: $528,014
- Bernie Sanders Net Worth May 2015: $440,511
- Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2014: $330,408
- Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2013: $330,506
- Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2012: $460,506
- Net Worth 2011: $308,005
- Net Worth 2010: $429,004
- Net Worth 2009: $105,003
- Net Worth 2008: $219,504
- Net Worth 2007: $345,503
- Net Worth 2006: $188,504
- Net Worth 2005: $128,001
- Net Worth 2004: $115,501
Bernie Sanders’ net worth has fluctuated over time, from $115,501 in 2004 to $345,503 in 2007. The 2008 financial crisis may have caused a drop of 36% of Sander’s net worth in that year. Sanders’ net worth sunk as low as $105,003 in 2009 and has gone as high as $460,506 in 2012.
Our figures above show a rise of $87,503 in Bernie Sanders’ net worth between May and August of 2015. However, only part of that rise comes from an actual change in Bernie Sanders’ net worth. Most of the change comes from amendments to disclosure forms. In other words, Sanders didn’t suddenly make an extra $87,000.
Bernie Sanders Net Worth in the News
Some viewers of a recent democratic debate called Sanders out for claiming he’s the only candidate who’s not a billionaire. In fact what Sanders said is he’s the only presidential candidate who’s not a billionaire and who has raised significant campaign money and who doesn’t have a super PAC. The fact checkers at PolitiFact verified Sanders’ statement. Watch Sanders’ statement on his non billionaire status and other factors in the video above.
Why is Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth Reported as an Average?
U.S. Senators don’t have to share their exact net worth. They must report their net worth each year within a range. Senator Sanders has reported 2015 assets at a minimum of $187,026 and a maximum of $759,004. This gives him an average asset value of $473,015.
Senators don’t have to report the value of personal, private residences. However, Sanders has a condo in Vermont valued at about $100,000. Adding that to his average asset value gives total average assets of $573,015.
Net worth is assets minus liabilities. Sanders has a minimum possible debt of $25,002 and maximum of $65,000. Averaging these two figures gives Sanders an average debt of $45,001. Subtracting this from Sanders’ average total asset value arrives at an average Bernie Sanders net worth of $528,014.
What Does Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth Mean Politically?
For a republican, a net worth as low as Bernie Sander’s $528,014 could be a liability. For example, when Jeb Bush left office as governor of Florida, his net worth stood at $1.3 million. Critics have asked how a republican and businessman with such a relatively low net worth can win the nomination in a party that counts job growth and the economy as its biggest issues.
However, Bernie Sanders is an avowed democratic socialist. A democratic socialist with a net worth in the millions could easily be accused of hypocrisy.
It’s possible some critics could still use Sanders’ net worth as a mark against him, since his net worth is 7.8 times larger than that of the median American family. However, according to U.S. Census data, those in Sanders’ age group have an average inflation-adjusted net worth of $203,804. That would put Sanders at a little more than twice the net worth of the median American family of his age. With his U.S. senate salary of $174,000 per year, Bernie Sanders’ net worth can’t earnestly be called extravagant.
More Marks for Sanders
Of 100 U.S. Senators, Bernie Sanders’ net worth is #86. According to OpenSecrets.org, the average U.S. Senator has a net worth of $10,866,000. That puts Bernie Sanders’ net worth well below his fellow congressmen.
Also see: What is Hillary Clinton’s Net Worth?
Where Does Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth Come From?
Bernie Sanders’ net worth comes almost entirely from his 44 year career in politics. Sanders has been mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He has also held positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and as a United States Senator. As a senator since 2006, Sanders has earned a salary between $165,200 and $174,000 a year.
Bernie Sanders Net Worth Breakdown:
The table below shows the total assets reported by Senator Sanders in his required annual financial disclosure forms from August 2015. Below the table, we’ve listed other, non-reported assets, as well as estimated debt.
|Bernie Sanders Net Worth From Assets|
|Average Bernie Sanders Net Worth Asset Value||$473,015|
|Bernie Sanders Asset||Asset Type||Min Value||Max Value|
|Spouse Retirement Plan||Retirement Plans||Undisclosed||Undisclosed|
|CREF Stock Account||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|CREF Growth Account||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|CREF Equity Index||Mutual Funds||$0||$1,001|
|CREF Global Equities Account||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|TIAA Access Mid-Cap Growth (T$)||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|TIAA Real Estate Account||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|CREF Bond Market Account||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|CREF Inflation-Linked Bond Account||Mutual Funds||$0||$1,001|
|CREF Social Choice Account||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|TIAA Traditional Annuity||Mutual Funds||$50,001||$100,000|
|Bernie Sanders' Spouse Retirement Plan 2||Retirement Plans||Undisclosed||Undisclosed|
|Valic Core Equity||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC SOCIALLY RESP||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|VALIC STOCK INDEX$1,001||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC MID CAP INDEX||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|VALIC SMALL CAP||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|VALIC SMALL CAP INDEX||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC SOCIAL AWARENESS||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC INT'L EQUITIES||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC SCIENCE & TECH||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC AGGR GROWTH LI||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC ASSET ALLOC||Mutual Funds||$15,001||$50,000|
|VALIC MOD GROWTH LI||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VNGRD LI FGRO||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VNGRD LI FMOD||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC GOVT SECURITIES||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC INTL GOVT BOND||Mutual Funds||$0||$1,001|
|VALIC STRATEGIC BOND||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VNGRD LT TRSRY||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VNGRD LT INV GRADE||Mutual Funds||$1,001||$15,000|
|VALIC MONEY MARKET II||Mutual Funds||$0||$1,001|
|Peoples United Bank IRA||Retirement Plans||Undisclosed||Undisclosed|
|Bernie Sanders' Pension||Retirement Plans||Unascertainable||Unascertainable|
Average Bernie Sanders total asset value: $473,015
Bernie Sanders Debt
Bernie Sanders’ net worth is affected by $25,002 to $65,000 in credit card debt. Sanders lists two Visa Card debts, one from $10,001 to $15,000 and the other from $15,001 to $50,000. Sanders must keep up with his payments, because the interest rate on the first card is only 8.5% and the second is 10.25%.
Senator Sanders has an average debt of $45,001.
Why is Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth So Low?
One of our readers pointed out that since Sanders has been drawing the salary of a U.S. Senator since 2006, his net worth should be a lot higher. So what does Sanders do with his money? It’s an excellent question.
Historical salary figures for U.S. senators are publicly available. In 2006 when Sanders was first elected to Congress, his salary was $165,200. He declared a net worth the previous year of $188,504.
|Year||Bernie Sanders’ Salary||Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth|
Looking at the table above, Bernie Sanders’ net worth took a big jump in 2007. In 2008, Sanders’ net worth dropped. The graph to the right shows he’s not alone. The net worth of all U.S. senators as a group (shown by the yellow line) took a nosedive at the same time.
The logical conclusion is that the financial crisis of 2008 hit most senators in their investments, dropping their collective net worth considerably through 2008 and 2009. By the end of 2009, Bernie Sanders’ net worth had shrunk to its lowest level on record: $105,003.
The period between 2013 and 2014 is a little more of a question mark. It seems like Bernie Sanders’ net worth should have grown a bit more during that time. However, averaging those years out, his holdings did grow by about $100,000 a year, which isn’t small. Looking at the net worth of the U.S. Senate as a whole, Bernie Sanders’ net worth does follow a similar path.
Should Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth be Higher?
Several readers have commented that our Bernie Sanders net worth numbers would be a lot higher if the candidate had any investment sense. We wanted to see if Sanders’ net worth should indeed be higher.
Sanders’ income from the time he graduated college in 1964 through his election to Congress in 1990 was likely low. During that time, Sanders lived on a Kibbutz in Israel, took various low paying jobs and worked as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
However, in 1991, Sanders’ Salary as a member of the U.S. Congress was $101,900. From 1991 through 2014, his salary increased incrementally, finishing at $174,000. According to public records, Sanders has earned a total of $3.6 million in federal salary in 24 years of service. He paid an estimated $1 million in taxes and $1.5 million in expenses (assuming median U.S. household cost of living of $64,000 per year). He also donated an estimated $181,000 to charity.
The senator’s net earnings gain during those years should have been $895,000. Growing that at the same rate as the S&P 500 index would have left him with a net worth today of $1.15 million.
|How High Could Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth Be?|
|Total Sanders Salary 1991-2014*||$3,627,800||(*Sanders’ annual salary from ’91 to ’14 is publicly available.)|
|Total Taxes at 28%||$1,015,784*||(Estimated based on federal tax brackets.)|
|Total Expenses ($64,000 x 24 years)*||$1,536,000||(*Based on national household average.)|
|Sanders Charitable Contributions*||$181,390||(*Based on % of Sanders’ income donated to charity in 2014 tax returns.)|
|Sanders Net Salary Gain in 24 years||$894,626|
|Total Sanders Investment Income if Tied to S&P 500||$257,778|
|Highest Possible Bernie Sanders Net Worth||$1,152,404|
So why the discrepancy between the $528,014 Bernie Sanders net worth reported average and the $1.15 million dollar Bernie Sanders net worth estimate above? Sanders’ taxes or expenses could be higher or lower than our estimates. His investment income may have varied from the S&P. He may have unreported assets in his wife’s name. He may give more to charity than we know.
Some readers say if Bernie Sanders’ net worth is indeed close to $500,000, it means he’s an incompetent investor. However, Sanders’ net worth is more than twice the net worth of the typical American in his age group. Other readers claim Sanders’ net worth is actually closer to the $1 million mark as estimated above. Their contention is that Sanders is hiding income somewhere to appear more like the common man.
Either way, the Bernie Sanders net worth debate is likely to rage on.
How Much Does Bernie Sanders Give to Charity?
Some readers say Bernie Sanders’ net worth is lower than expected because he gives a lot of his money to charity. Reports indicate Sanders donated $26,000 to charity in 2011 and 2012 from the sale of a book he authored. Sanders also donated over $1,000 from sales of that same book in 2014, along with $8,350 in other charitable contributions.
Is the Bernie Sanders net worth total really dragged down by charitable contributions? It’s hard to tell. Assuming Sanders donates an average of $8,000 to $10,000 a year to charity, that’s about 5% of annual income. If Sanders donated that same percentage yearly since he entered Congress in 1991, he would have contributed a total of $181,390. After figuring investment income, those donations would have dragged the Bernie Sanders net worth sum down by 17%.
|Bernie Sanders Net Worth With and Without Charity||Bernie Sanders Net Worth Without Charity||Bernie Sanders Net Worth With 5% to Charity|
|Total Salary 1991-2014||$3,627,800||$3,627,800|
|Total Taxes at 28%||$1,015,784||$1,015,784|
|Total Expenses ($64,000X24 years)||$1,536,000||$1,536,000|
|Total Sanders Charitable Contributions||$0||$181,390|
|Sanders Net Gain||$1,076,016||$894,626|
|Investment Income if Tied to S&P 500||$320,101||$257,778|
|Possible Bernie Sanders Net Worth||$1,396,117||$1,152,404|
The table above speculates on the difference between zero charitable contributions and 5% per year. Sanders would have had to give 16% per year to charity to arrive at the $528,014 Bernie Sanders net worth number as reported. Did he give that much? There’s no way to tell.
Bernie Sanders Net Worth and Taxes
Even a U.S. Senator has to pay taxes. Based on his salary, Sanders earned a total of $1,552,500 from 2007 through 2015. However, his relatively high salary put him in a 28% federal tax bracket. Based on that percentage, Sanders paid $46,000 to $49,000 a year in federal taxes. Those big annual payouts siphoned off a total of $434,700 from Bernie Sander’s net worth. That’s not including cost of living expenses.
Cost of Living
With the median U.S. household cost of living at about $64,000 per year, Sanders would have spent $576,000 just to stay alive. That figure, added to the taxes, would just about account for our Bernie Sanders net worth figure of $528,014.
|Bernie Sanders Earnings 2007-2015||$1,552,500|
|Cost of Living||$522,000|
|Calculated Bernie Sanders Net Worth from Above||$595,800|
|Money Nation Bernie Sanders Net Worth Estimate||$528,014|
Note that there’s a difference of $13,786 between the calculated Bernie Sanders net worth figure above and our estimated Bernie Sanders net worth total of $528,014. This could be statistical noise or from the value of Sanders’ private residence. It could also be that Sanders lost some money in the stock market crash in 2008.
Is Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth Negative?
There has been some speculation in the media that Bernie Sanders’ net worth could be negative. This is certainly possible, as senators don’t have to report certain debts and assets in their financial disclosure forms. However, the chances of a negative Bernie Sanders net worth are slim. For the candidate to have a negative net worth, all of his reported assets would have to be at the very bottom of their ranges, and all his debts at the very top. Even then, Bernie Sanders’ net worth would be $222,026. The only way for Sanders to have a negative net worth is if his wife Jane had unreported net debts in excess of that amount.
Did Hillary Clinton Make More than Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth for One Speech?
According to her financial disclosure forms, Hillary Clinton earned $660,000 for just two speeches. That puts her earning more than Bernie Sanders’ net worth in just two speeches. Claims that Clinton earned more than Bernie Sanders’ net worth in a single speech could also be true. Clinton’s highest paying speech for personal income on record paid $335,000 in August of 2014. At the time, Bernie Sanders’ net worth was $330,408. That would mean Clinton earned more than Bernie Sanders’ net worth in a single speech.
Widening the scope a little, it’s even more probable Clinton earned more than Bernie Sanders’ net worth for a single speech. The Clinton Foundation reports Clinton was paid $500,000 to $1,000,000 for a speech she made for DMC Communications, Ltd., though that money went to charity. Finally, Bill Clinton earned $750,000 for a speech he gave in China in 2011, dwarfing Bernie Sanders’ net worth at any time.
The Future of Bernie Sanders’ Net Worth
Bernie Sanders’ net worth will likely skyrocket if he’s elected president. U.S. presidents earn $400,000 a year. That could double Bernie Sanders’ net worth in the first two years. Speaking fees and book deals post presidency could easily add millions to Bernie Sanders’ net worth. Even donating large amounts to charity wouldn’t shrink Sanders’ wealth too much. Even with the Clinton Foundation’s endowment in the billions, Bill and Hillary Clinton still have an estimated net worth over $100 million. That easily dwarfs current figures for Bernie Sanders’ net worth.
How Fresh Are Our Bernie Sanders Net Worth Figures?
Our Bernie Sanders net worth data come from U.S. Senate personal financial disclosure reports filed in August of 2015. Since that time, no further reports have been filed. Sanders’ net worth figures aren’t likely to change until late 2016, when the candidate will be required to re-file.
Also see: Barack Obama Net Worth
How Does Bernie Sanders Stack Up?
Apart from Bernie Sanders’ net worth, how does the candidate’s hourly pay stack up? We figured his hourly pay as a U.S. Senator vs several other professions. Figuring on working an average of 53 hours a week, Sanders earns $84 an hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average medical doctor in the U.S. earns $90 an hour for the same number of hours. Teachers earn $26 an hour, nurses earn $32 an hour and waiters earn $9. Finally, the average minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 an hour.
|Average Min. Wage||$15,064||$7.25|
Here’s how the data in the table above looks graphically.
On 1/26/16, the Grassroots for Sanders Reddit group announced that they’ve raised $1 million for Sanders’ campaign. While the money doesn’t add directly to Bernie Sanders’ net worth, it does get him that much closer to the White House. A win would boost Sanders’ net worth significantly. See their tweet below:
— Feel The Bern 2016 Ⓥ (@_feel_the_bern_) January 26, 2016
About Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders was born in 1941 and has made his career entirely in politics. An avowed democratic socialist, Sanders works on issues such as income inequality, campaign finance reform and climate change. He has held positions as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont and on the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Sanders announced his intention to run for President in April of 2015.
Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. – U.S. Census
Senate Salaries Since 1789 – Senate.gov