Have you been wondering “What is my net worth?”, or how to track net worth? When it comes to calculating net worth, many people believe that ignorance is bliss, and there are also those who absolutely love doing it. Regardless of your viewpoint, it is a really important exercise to do to get a clear view of where you currently stand financially.
So what is net worth?
In order to answer the question, "what's my net worth?" you need to know more. Net worth is simply your assets minus your liabilities. Your assets are the things you own while your liabilities are the things you owe.
Why should you know what your net worth is?
Net worth shows how much money you actually have if all of your debts are subtracted and all the things you own are added up. It gives you a clear picture of how much money you truly have, but in very simple terms.
When you track net worth it can help you determine what moves to make with your money, whether to buy more assets to increase investments or when you need to take less risk.
Knowing your net worth based on your age can also help you decide on what money moves will be most beneficial to increase your worth based on your finances.
What are assets?
Any cash you have saved in your checking and savings accounts is an asset. However, assets are also things of value that can be converted to cash. That means even if something isn't in cash form right now, if you could sell it and make money, it's an asset.
Assets can include personal property such as the value of any jewelry or gems, collectibles, vehicles (less amount owed), etc. Investments such as stocks, bonds, annuities, retirement plans, also qualify. Here are some other assets:
- Certificates of deposit
- Mutual funds
- Any valuable household items
- Home electronics
- Commercial property
- RVs and campers
- Commercial buildings
- SEP IRAs
- Undeveloped land that you own
Your home or property is also an asset. Assets include any second homes or rental property as well, and it's a big part of how you track your net worth.
For houses, the amount of the asset will be the equity minus what is owed on the mortgage loan. If your house sells for $200,000 and you still owe $100,000, you will only receive $100,000, minus fees for the sale.
Your insurance as an asset depends on the type of insurance. Term life policies aren't assets but they do protect you. This is because they don't have cash value and are used only for insurance purposes.
A whole life policy like a universal life policy is an asset as far as the cash value of the policy. So the part of the insurance that is cash is part of your net worth. Speak to qualified professionals to find out more about the cash value of life insurance.
How to know what your assets are worth
How do you find out what your assets are worth? It depends on what the asset is. A house value is determined by an appraiser, and personal items such as jewelry will also likely need an appraiser to get an estimate on the value.
So, for expensive items, consult a professional to determine their value. You can then add your findings to your net worth.
What are liabilities?
Liabilities are any debts you owe. They are not things you own outright but have debt attached to them that must be paid back. Basically, any money you owe is a liability that will be deducted from your assets.
Examples of liabilities
The amount owed on your mortgage loan, vehicles if they are not paid off, credit card debt, and student loans, are all liabilities. Anything that adds a negative value to your net worth is a liability.
Another example of a liability is medical debt. But remember that your regular bills and expenses don't qualify as liabilities; they're just payments that need to be kept up to date.
How do I calculate my net worth?
So now you're probably asking, "how do I calculate my net worth?" and it's pretty simple!
You calculate it by subtracting your total liabilities from your total assets (Assets - Liabilities). You can do this on a simple spreadsheet or paper by making a list of all your assets, totaling their value up, and then doing the same for your liabilities.
Here's an example: let's say you have $400,000 total in assets and your liabilities are $200,000 total. After all of your liabilities are paid off, your total net worth would be the remaining balance of $200,000.
You may also find a net worth calculator online that can help you too. If you're interested, you can find a future net worth calculator to see what your money will be worth later on.
Best net worth calculators
Here are a few of our favorite net worth calculators to help you answer your burning question, "what is my net worth?" These interactive calculators can give you a better idea of your financial picture and help you start to track net worth. And you can also use a future net worth calculator online if you want to know what your net worth will be later on.
Kiplinger has a calculator that is quite comprehensive and easy to use. You can clear the calculator and start over, plus a description of assets is provided.
Personal Capital offers a very straightforward calculator that asks for assets and liabilities to get your answer.
The Ameriprise calculator is interesting because it lets you project your numbers years ahead, making it a great future net worth calculator.
How to track net worth
Now that you're aware of what it is and how to calculate it, how do you track net worth? It's important to monitor your net worth by tracking it at certain times, but how you do this will vary some by individual circumstances.
How to begin?
As discussed, you must start by totaling every asset you own, and then do the same with liabilities. Use a spreadsheet to track the numbers. Remember to add up everything, and then subtract the debts (liabilities) from the assets (what you own) to get your net worth answer.
Net worth changes over time, so you should be aware of how to keep up with it when it changes. Some people like to track their net worth once a year, others once a month. Decide how often you want to check up on your net worth and follow a plan.
To start, begin by tracking your net worth quarterly. That way you can make sure your yearly financial goals are lining up with the number you're working towards for net worth. Try this out and if you feel like net worth is something you want to track more or less often, adjust accordingly.
What is the process to track net worth?
If you want to have a general idea of your net worth at all times, you can use a personal balance sheet. It's a sort of net worth statement. Even if you don't look at this too often, it's a great way to get an at-a-glance look at your money.
Make a spreadsheet to track net worth, assets, and liabilities. Include things like personal loans, the current value of your home (if you own it, or how much you'd make in a sale if not), and retirement savings. Ask yourself, "what's my net worth?" on occasion to help you stay aware, and update your spreadsheet often.
How to meet goals with your net worth plan?
Your financial goals should line up with your net worth plans. First, decide on your big number - your net worth goal by retirement. From there, break it down into smaller steps that you can implement each year, or every five years, etc.
Even if your retirement net worth number seems out of reach, go for it anyway. Think about how much you can save this year for your goal, next year, and so on. You'll feel less overwhelmed if it's a little at a time.
Help: When I calculate my net worth, it's negative!
When you consider average net worth by age, many people start out with a negative net worth. If this is you, it is ok. It doesn't mean you have big personal finance issues. Given time, continuity of practice, and good financial habits, this can change and you can have a positive net worth.
Why is my net worth negative?
Negative net worth can be due to the fact that you haven't earned/invested enough income to offset your debt. For example, it is not uncommon for younger people who have student loans but have only earned a few years of income to have a negative net worth.
Keep in mind your income is not the same as your net worth. Your income is tied to actively earning money.
Another example of negative net worth could be due to overspending and having large amounts of credit card debt and not much in terms of assets to offset the debt.
How do I increase my net worth?
Maybe you're thinking, "after I calculate my net worth, how do I increase it"? Every time you make a payment towards debt or put money in your savings account or acquire assets, you are increasing your personal net worth.
Even if your net worth remains negative for a while when you make a debt payment you reduce your total amount of debt which in turn increases your net worth. So don't be afraid or discouraged by what you see if you end up with a negative number.
Here are some more specific tips to increase your net worth:
Make more than the minimum payments
The first thing to do when trying to increase your net worth is to create a debt payoff strategy and knock out your debt fast. Paying more than just minimum payments can help you rapidly pay down your debt and start building wealth.
This can also save you thousands of dollars in interest and that money can be used to bulk up your savings accounts.
Budgeting your money is one of the most crucial steps to increasing wealth and helps you track your net worth. Having a budget ensures you aren't overspending and you are saving enough money every month to reach your financial goals.
Try to decrease the amount you spend and increase the amount you save as much as possible. Also include monthly costs in your budget like auto loans that you're paying off.
When you create your budget you want to be sure you are budgeting for your savings, retirement, and investments. Picking the right budgeting method can help you successfully manage your money and pave the road to financial success.
Focus on building assets through investing
A sure way to increase your net worth is to build assets through investing. You want to diversify your portfolio as you do your income streams when it comes to investing. There are many ways to invest your money, such as real estate, businesses, treasury bills, commercial bonds, retirement plans, stocks, bonds, and more.
Remember to track the numbers
Increasing your net worth will involve staying organized with your total liabilities and annual asset growth, including the current total balance of your retirement accounts. In addition, consider the number of years until you retire, estimate how much you should save and invest each year, and don't forget debt pay off.
Net worth and your credit score
You might wonder if your net worth affects your credit score in some way. Does a high net worth make a good impact on your score? The answer is no.
Net worth and credit score are not directly related, though both are important for your finances.
You can increase your net worth
Remember, building wealth takes time and is a journey. It can be scary to ask yourself, what is my net worth?
However, the sooner you crunch the numbers, the faster you can start increasing your net worth. And if you need encouragement, check out a future net worth calculator.
Make it a goal to develop good financial habits, stay consistent with your debt pay off, savings, and investing, and most importantly, believe that you can. Increasing your net worth can help you achieve early retirement and give you a secure financial future.
To increase your net worth, start investing. You don’t need a ton of money to get started investing, and the sooner you start, the faster you can increase your net worth. Grab a copy of our bestselling book, “Learn how investing works, grow your money” to get started!