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10 Best Income Survey Questions to Use When Asking About Finances (+ Example)

Parvathi Vijayamohan

24 June 2022

4 min read

How do you get details about a person’s finances from a survey form? By using carefully crafted income survey questions.

To help you out, we have created a list of income survey questions below. These questions are designed to measure four different income components – wages, supplemental income, transfers, and assets.

Check out this income questionnaire example by SurveySparrow.

To create more customized forms like this with omnichannel sharing features, you can sign up for a free account below.

10 income survey questions for questionnaires and forms

#1. Which of these categories describes your personal income last year?

  • Less than $10,000
  • $10,000 – $50,000
  • $50,000 – $100,000
  • $100,000 – $150,000
  • I prefer not to say

This income level survey question provides an overview of the respondent’s income. This information can help sort your audience into income segments. Given the diverse types of audiences you could be reaching out to, it’s best to word this question in a way that resonates with them.

#2. What is your total household income? Pick a category.

  • Less than $50,000
  • $50,000 – $100,000
  • $100,000 – $150,000
  • $150,000 – $200,000
  • I prefer not to say

Household income is the total net income of all members in a housing unit above a particular age, regardless of whether they are related. Household income survey questions are helpful for financial institutions for underwriting loans, economists for indicating an area’s standard of living, and market researchers for segmenting their audience.

#3. Which of these categories describes your personal income last month?

  • Less than $5,000
  • $5,000 – $10,000
  • $10,000 – $50,000
  • I prefer not to say

This income question is a discreet way of asking about salary or monthly personal income. This question is often asked by financial institutions, companies who want to determine the average compensation for employees, and businesses to determine product pricing.

#4. Do you receive income from sources other than a salary?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

‘Income from other sources’ excludes income from salary, house property, capital gains, or a business/profession. Furthermore, this includes one-time revenues such as winnings from lotteries, horse races, crossword puzzles, card games, gambling, or betting of any form.

#5. Did you receive social security benefits or disability income in the last year?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

Asking about social security benefits or disability income is another way to ask about age and health status. Again, these demographic details can help you personalize your communications with that respondent and provide a product/service more tailored to their needs.

#6. Did you earn money selling stocks/bonds/real estate last year?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

This income survey question assesses capital gains. Capital gains are the profit one earns from selling an asset – like stocks, bonds, or real estate. Capital gains are made when an asset’s sale price exceeds its purchase price.

#7. Have you received any monetary contributions (like rent or utility payments) from someone who does not live with you?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

Personal income can come from more than one source, and the most common sources are salary and supplemental income sources. This question is a way to help respondents separate salary income from extra income like rent payments or utility payments.

#8. Did you receive alimony in the last year?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

This income survey question is a discreet way of finding out the respondent’s marital status – a detail you wouldn’t ask upfront in person, let alone on a survey! We’ve included this question because alimony can sometimes be a source of supplementary income.

#9. Did you receive monetary contributions for child support in the last year?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable
  • I prefer not to say

This income survey question is an un-intrusive way of learning if the respondent is a parent or guardian to a minor.

#10. Please list all the sources of income that apply to you.

If you want to help respondents itemize income sources they may have missed, use this income survey question. Moreover, you can frame it as an open-ended question, multiple-choice question, or a dropdown question type like in the survey example we shared above.

Income survey questions - data dashboard for data visualization
SurveySparrow’s data dashboard – a great tool if you want to visualize income trends over time

FAQs about income survey questions

What are the five sources of income?

Income sources can fall into five broad categories:

  • Employment (wages and salaries)
  • Self-employment (independent contractors, sole proprietors, partnerships)
  • Property (dividends, interest, and rents)
  • Transfers (alimony, child support, worker’s compensation, education, financial assistance, public assistance and welfare, retirement, unemployment compensation, and veteran’s benefits)
  • Other (capital gains, betting, etc.)

How do you ask about income level on a survey?

According to Moore, Stinson & Welniak, there are two major challenges in measuring income in surveys. The first is that there are plenty of potential sources of income, as well as losses that impact these earnings. Recalling all of these is a major hassle for respondents

Secondly, few of us like to spill the beans on how much money we earn! So asking lots of income questions can feel invasive. 

Consequently, around 10–15% of the income data on surveys goes unanswered because either the respondent refuses to answer the question or because they don’t remember. So it’s best to frame the answer options as ranges instead of forcing respondents to provide an exact number.

Wrapping Up

That’s all, folks. Any questions we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

Fledgling growth marketer. Curious about all things SaaS. Aunty to a naughty beagle.

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