Most people think of their value in terms of how much they have in their bank account. The term net worth simply isn’t discussed much outside of the financial world.
Yet net worth is an important metric that all consumers should actively think about as they build wealth and move through life.
Let’s take a look at how you can track your net worth, and why it’s important to do so.
What is Net Worth?
Net worth is the difference between what you own and what you owe.
This is a very personal calculation. As such, it’s nothing to stress over when approaching a lender about taking out a mortgage or an auto loan.
However, it’s a good way of tracking your true financial value, especially as you age and your financial situation becomes more complex.
Picture Todd, 40 years old with a house valued at $200,000, a $150,000 mortgage, $20,000 in checking, $10,000 in consumer debt, $10,000 in personal property, and $50,000 in mutual funds and ETFs socked away for retirement.
Add it all up, and Todd’s net worth is $120,000. Way to go, Todd!
Calculate Your Net Worth With This Template
There are many different ways to calculate net worth and tons of free tools floating around the internet. But not all net worth trackers are the same.
If you’re interested in figuring out your net worth, head over to Millennial Money’s free net worth worksheet, plug in your figures, and see where you stand.
Also, be sure to check out our free net worth calculator.
You just may be pleasantly surprised at what you learn. Or you may see that you have some work to do.
Assets vs. Liabilities
When you use our net worth spreadsheet, you’ll notice that the tool is split into two categories: assets and liabilities. It’s important to note the difference between these categories.
Assets refer to objects you own outright (e.g., your bank account deposits, investment accounts, retirement savings, valuable items, and so on). If your asset allocation is on point, it might take a while to round up every number.
- Checking Accounts: Chances are you’re using checking accounts for everyday purchases. Even if you don’t have a lot in checking, you should still add each account balance to your net worth.
- Savings Accounts: Make sure to include all your savings accounts from traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions, too.
- Money Market Accounts: You may be using money market accounts, which generate higher interest rates than regular checking accounts. Add these to your list of assets.
- Retirement Investment Accounts: Retirement accounts may include traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs), Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, or solo 401(k)s, to name a few. These are examples of tax-friendly accounts that let you maximize long-term growth.
- Brokerage Account(s): You should also include any personal investment you’re doing through brokerage firms like Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard.
- Cryptocurrency account(s): If some of your money is tied up in cryptocurrency, it still belongs on your list of assets. Head over to your cryptocurrency exchange, collect your total portfolio balance, and add it to your list of assets.
- Real Estate: Contact your lenders and ask for a valuation report on your personal home and any investment properties you own. The valuation report should give you an updated market value for your property. If you own your home outright and don’t have a loan, you can contact an independent appraiser to conduct an assessment for you.
- Vehicles: Any vehicles you own–including cars, motorcycles, boats, or heavy machinery like tractors or bulldozers–count as assets. Determine their current value and add each one to the list. Need help figuring out how much each is worth? Head to Kelly Blue Book.
- Jewelry: Take an inventory of any expensive personal accessories you have. This may include your engagement ring, family heirlooms, and watches. If the jewelry has substantial value, it counts as an asset. Don’t bother with anything worth less than $1,000 unless it has potential future value.
- Other Valuables: Include any other items of serious value. For example, this category could include farm animals, a piece of artwork, or valuable baseball card, or other collectibles.
Here are some common examples of liabilities to include in your net worth calculation.
- Mortgage: When you request a valuation report on your home, calculate how much you still owe on your mortgage and add that to your liabilities.
- Student Loans: Are you still paying off student loans? Each one is a liability. Count them as such.
- Credit Card Balances: Credit card debt is one of the most notorious and expensive types of liability. Add up all your credit card balances and add them to the calculation.
- Car Loans: Car loans also count as liabilities. Figure out how much you have remaining on each one of your cars.
- Other Debt: Make sure to factor in any other type of consumer financing that you have. This may include personal loans, televisions purchased on payment plans, or sofas. Don’t leave any other debt out.
Now, subtract your liabilities from your assets, and that’s your net worth. Fingers crossed it’s a positive number.
With Personal Capital, you can see your net worth, analyze investments, and discover any hidden fees you weren’t aware of before – as well as set spending and saving goals.
Tips for Increasing Your Net Worth
Calculating your net worth can be an eye-opening experience, leaving you wanting more. If you’re not happy with your net worth, here’s what you can do to increase it.
1. Pay Off Your Debt
High-interest debt is one of the biggest destroyers of wealth. To improve your net worth, start by paying off your high-interest debt or consolidating your payments by taking out a low-interest loan. The faster you get out of debt, the less you’ll lose on a monthly basis… and the higher your net worth will climb.
2. Buy Property
Buying property is one of the best ways to increase your net worth–especially if you buy a rental property in a great location. By doing so, you not only get a house to your name but an asset that can potentially produce a steady monthly cash flow.
3. Invest More
Consider putting yourself on an auto investment plan and pumping more money into your brokerage or retirement accounts at regular intervals. By funneling money out of your checking and savings accounts, you can potentially generate larger returns in the stock market. Over several years, this money can produce compound interest, increasing your net worth.
4. Start a Side Hustle
The fastest and most effective way to increase your net worth is to start a side hustle. If you’re in a position to do so, consider taking on a second job in addition to your full-time income. Starting a side hustle can be hard work. But the extra cash you generate adds up quickly. Work as hard as you can and be diligent about saving money. The more you bring in, the more your personal net worth will increase.
5. Consider Ditching Your Car
This may seem counterintuitive if your car is paid off. However, a car is a depreciable asset that loses value by the day. Unless you have a classic car in top condition, your car is probably worth a lot less than you paid for it.
On top of that, you’re paying for gas, maintenance, insurance, and maybe even parking. And there are also repairs, new tires, and accidents to consider. Add it all up, and your car is burning a hole in your wallet, costing most people hundreds of dollars every month.
Why keep this chain of reckless spending going? Sell your car and pocket the cash. What you lose in the form of a depreciable asset will come back to you as liquid cash, which you can invest and grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is good net worth?
Only you can make that assessment. Net worth is simply a calculation of what you own versus what you owe. There is no such thing as good or bad net worth. What you want to avoid is having a negative net worth or a very large number of liabilities. If your goal is financial independence, you’ll want to have a net worth in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars or more with very little debt.
What is the average net worth?
The average net worth of an American family between 2016 and 2019 was reported at $748,000 as of September 2020. While the median net worth is $121,700.
How much net worth do you need to retire?
The general rule is to have at least 10 or 11 times your annual salary saved up by the time you retire. So, if you earn $80,000 when you retire, you’ll want to have a net worth of around $880,000 at that time. Of course, this figure may change depending on your income level at the time of retirement and your future expenses. To hit your target number, keep debt to a minimum and focus on acquiring valuable assets instead of liabilities. Avoid things like expensive cars that depreciate in value.
Is budgeting good for net worth?
Sticking to a budget is one of the best things you can do to boost your personal finances. You can keep a budget in Microsoft Excel or by using online budgeting software.
That said, net worth tracking isn’t the same as budgeting. Budgeting is more about managing daily finances. Net worth is about gauging overall wealth.
The Bottom Line
If you want to reach true financial independence and retire on your own terms, then you need to track your net worth. It’s that simple. This is critical for financial planning and increasing your personal capital.
It doesn’t matter whether you use an Excel spreadsheet or a third-party app to conduct this important calculation.
Instead, do what you’re comfortable with. All that matters is that you track your total assets and liabilities so that you have a running score of where you stand.
Keep in mind that if your net worth isn’t where you want it to be, you can immediately make changes to improve your situation. Pick up a side hustle, ask for a raise, invest more, or buy property. All of these things can help your net worth increase.
By setting net worth goals, figuring out a course of action to get there, and sticking to it, you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom. Good luck!