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How to Track Your Net Worth [+ My Net Worth]

You're probably reading this site because you want to see your financial life improve? Maybe move toward financial independence?

Good on you, my friend!

A great way to get better at something is to start tracking it. Let's talk about measuring and tracking your net worth.

Simply put, your personal net worth is equal to your assets (the things you own) minus your liabilities (i.e. debts).

The trick to getting an accurate number is to carefully examine what you have and what you owe. Don't just think to yourself, “Well, I have two thousand bucks in my savings account, so my net worth must be two thousand dollars.” There is much more to it than that.

For instance, your assets might be cash in checking and savings, investments, real estate, and cars. Your liabilities might be your mortgage, credit card balances, and student loans. These are some of the more common elements. You might have more or less and/or different items.

See my net worth spreadsheet from 2011 at the bottom of this post to get an idea of the things you can track. Or, plug your numbers into Personal Capital.

So how is the net worth actually calculated? Simple. All you have to do is add up the value or balances of each category (assets and liabilities) and simply subtract your liabilities from your assets.

Ideally, this will equal a positive number. But it's okay if it doesn't initially. Most people start out their journey in the negative. I did.

It may seem a little weird to reduce your entire existence into a mere number, and it can be truly bizarre to actually see the number once all the calculations are complete.

Keep in mind it's just a number that indicates how much your assets are worth, and really has nothing to do with you as a person.

Why is it important to know your net worth and to track it?

It's always good to take a moment to understand why you want to do something. Knowing your net worth will:

  • Bring clarity to your financial life. Instead of living in ignorance, you will see the truth. Knowledge is power!
  • Motivate you to see the net worth number improve. I promise you, your mind will instantly be drawn to how you can increase your assets and decrease your liabilities. It's natural. Don't turn from this feeling. Embrace it.
  • Allow you to set a specific goal towards improving your net worth. If you don't know where you are it's hard to know how to get to where you want to be.

What should your net worth be?

As much as possible!!! I'm joking (not really).

Try not to think in terms of a static number. Don't get caught up in comparisons either. Simply put, your net worth should be moving in a positive direction. Once you get it going in a positive direction and set goals around that, you've found the sweet spot for understanding this simple little calculation.

Of course, at some point, you might want to set a goal of financial independence (that point in which you are able to live off of the income produced by your assets). In that case, your net worth needs to be roughly 25 times your annual expenses, or enough so that you can withdraw 4% (the Trinity study's safe withdrawal rate) of your assets to live on each year (e.g. $40k on $1M). If that's your goal, get crackin'.

It's hard not to compare though. And if you'd like to do some comparing, check out these three resources:

1. Here's a guide from Personal Capital that will show you how you stack up against the average 401k balance (for many people this is the biggest number in the asset column). If your around my age, it doesn't take much in the positive to be ahead of the average.

2. Secondly, here's a list of the entire personal finance blogosphere's net worths.

3. Finally, here's a nice video from Denis at TruFinancials where he shares his monthly net worth update:

How do you track it?

My wife and I used to track our net worth using a simple Excel spreadsheet (see below). You don't have to use Excel though.

There are plenty of online-based calculators out there that will help you get to your net worth. The one we use now is Personal Capital.

If your net worth isn't a positive number, or isn't as high as you'd like it to be, set a goal. Put it on paper. Make both a short-term and a long-term goal. Decide how long, based on your ability to save or pay off debt, that it should take you to reach your goals.

Consider using Personal Capital as a tool to hold you accountable. Best of luck, and stay positive!

How to Track Your Net Worth

My Net Worth Tracked in 2011

Back in the Fall of 2011, fresh off of my first FinCon where I was inspired by “coming out” to all of my money nerd friends I began to share my net worth monthly on the blog.

Initially, I found the process fun and revealing. Then I realized after 6 months no one was commenting anymore on the updates (so it felt useless and uninspired) and I felt once again a little exposed by sharing such detail.

By this time I was no longer an anonymous blogger and so I stopped sharing the specifics publicly.

You can still piece together my net worth by going through my annual savings goals post and my annual rental property analysis. But those don't even include my business net worth, so it's still off. But still, I suppose if you are that desperate to know you can hunt around and find it. Or, come to FinCon and buy me a beer and I'll share it with you. Ha!

Here's the ole Google Doc I used to track my net worth:

On the next few pages, you'll find the commentary from five months worth of data (don't ask me where the July and September commentary are).

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Last Edited: May 28, 2018 @ 9:43 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a former practicing CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of FinCon, the conference and community dedicated to helping other financial influencers and brands. He created this website back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money, hold himself accountable, and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

PT uses Personal Capital to keep track of his financial life. This free software allows him to review his net worth regularly, analyze his investments, and make decisions about his financial future.

PT keeps a portion of his emergency fund in Betterment, the automatic investing tool that makes investing super simple. Betterment focuses on what matters most: savings rate, time in the market, investing costs, and taxes. PT recommends this service to anyone looking to get started investing for themselves.

All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.

Comments

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  1. The Physician Philosopher says:

    Interestingly, I have my first networth update getting posted tomorrow! Six months out of training as a doc. I am encouraged by it and have some ideas where we can continue to build. Hoping to have a zero dollar net worth (started with NEGATIVE 308,000) in the next 12 months.

    Tracking your networth is definitely a good exercise!

  2. The Physician Philosopher says:

    I actually have my first net worth update coming out at the beginning of February. As a physician who just finished training my net worth is not pretty, but it is sure to improve and hoping to be at zero in less than a year after training.

    I should be on good pace to make all of my financial goals, but tracking my net worth is fefintiely a motivator!

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Peter Luke Baptiste says:

    True. A clear vision of what our net worth should be will avoid unnecessary expenditures thereby affording us comfortable fallback with a sound state of mind and body.