And now for the requisite tracking net worth post…
Today we discs something that is both boring and exciting at the same time. After reading all of these financial blogs, it’s obvious that in this community no one is comparing their new Audi or home size. In the world of personal finance blogs, personal net worth is the holy grail. It is discussed, celebrated, and analyzed though not in a negative way.
Net worth is a big part of the equation of whether or not you are on the road to financial freedom or financial disaster. An item we sometimes place (and celebrate) transparently for the world to see and in fact the net worth of most personal finance bloggers is displayed at Rockstar Finance. So today we are going to go over how to track net worth. Tracking net worth is similar to setting up a budget or an expense report as we discussed here. It is simple to do and important because it lets us build confidence.
Why net worth?
By knowing that we are gaining momentum, even if it is a little at a time, we grow comfortable in our plan and continue forward with our actions to find freedom. Many of us, don’t want to know our net worth because it can be shocking and depressing. For me, it is like the Big Mac. I do not want to look at the calorie count because I know its not good for me. (For the record, a Big Mac has 563 calories. A Starbucks Frappuccino has 410 calories, no thanks but I will take my Big Mac any day!)
I was the same way. I knew one day I would make a big doctor salary and all of my debt would disappear. Magically it would be gone. But unfortunately, that is not true. With the income came the lifestyle and so I had an intervention (a self mandated one) and take a good hard look at myself and my net worth.
My net worth
So where was I? Well my net worth had been growing over years, but negatively. I had taken loans for college and medical school. Then I deferred all of these loans through residency and fellowship. They grew slowly but surely. “Who needs to worry about debt when I was going to be a doctor!”, I used to say. So if school loans were not bad enough, I decided I can use credit cards and loans to finance my bachelor days. I wasn’t going to let being broke dissuade me in my 20’s from having fun and going out. It was a bad state to be in, but similar to a lot of my friends.
The calculations begin
Then in 2014, after I was married and finally making a doctor salary for 2 years, I realized I was not making the progress I wanted. I started to pay attention to my net worth.
So how did I do this?
- I put together an excel sheet and separated my debts from my assets (401K, IRA, etc.). As you can see below I had very few assets. My debts, however, were huge. I was able to calculate that my net worth was negative $253,000.
Here is my 2014 Net worth:
- I started the climb to a positive net worth (and am still climbing). I tracked my expenses and paid down small loans first and month by month I made progress.
Here is 2015:
- With each month my confidence grew and I knew we were on the right track.
Finally in August 2016 I briefly made it into the green, but for just one month. Then I bought a house and bam the networth dived again. This is why buying a home is rough .
From June 2014 to December 2016 my networth went from -$253,032 to -$15,435. A $237,597 gain in 2.5 years. Not too shabby! I think by the end of March 2017 I will be in the green again for the second time in my adult life. It just took me 36 years to get here.
You can calculate net worth too!
So how can you calculate your net worth? Get together an excel sheet and do the following:
- Start a liabilities colum. In this column place all of your loans. I also placed the interest rates for the loans so that I knew which debts were costing me the most. This area will include your home mortgage, auto loans, student loans, and any private loans you may have.
- Start an assets column. In this area include all retirement accounts (401Ks, IRAs, 403bs, etc.). Also include your children’s 529 plan (though some people leave this out of their asset column). Finally add your home’s value. I used the price I paid for the house, but others use the Zillow.com estimate, while others take 80% of the Zillow estimate. Either way works, just be consistent month to month.
- Start calculating your month to month gains or losses. It will give you a better idea of how your financial plan is going.
I challenge each of you to get out there and start calculating your net worth. See where you stand. Are you at the net worth that the Financial Samurai says you should be here. I am not. Per Sam, my Net Worth should be $1,000,000 at this time, but he does not account for the late start for most doctors.
Let me know how it goes. Are you surprised as to how much you are worth?
6 thoughts on “And now for the requisite tracking net worth post…”
Did you make it into the green again by the end of March?
It certainly gets a lot easier once you get out of the red and start accumulating more dollars to start working for you.
I am in the green! It was quite the jump to, about $20K. A combination of contributing to our IRA’s and paying off more of the mortgage. It does feel good though, only the second time ever since I started college. Now to not make more financial mistakes and keep moving forward!
Question, I see a home as an asset in 2014. Then it’s a liability in 2015. Then it disappeared. What’s the stor there or is it just the vagaries of reporting?
Thanks for taking the time to notice. It is definitely how I varied reporting throughout the years. My way to document net worth is always changing. In 2014 I had the loan as a liability and the price of the home as an asset, so the equity I had in it was calculated between the two various labelings. In 2015 I had a separate home equity tab, and balanced out the sheets that way. In 2016, I did a similar thing. So it is a vagary of reporting!
Great job on digging yourself out of the red and almost into the black! I firmly believe there’s no “right” amount of net worth by age, there are too many variables at play. Did you stay out of the work force for a long time to become a doctor? Spend years in a low paying job, and then go back to college and finish in your 30’s? Did you switch careers, or opt to have one person be a stay at home parent? Then your net worth isn’t going to be what it “should” be. The only person you should compare yourself to is…yourself. If you’re making progress and hitting your goals, that’s what’s important.
Thanks for checking out the site again! To become a doc it is 4 years of college (debt), 4 years of medical school (more debt) and then 3 to 6 years of residency/fellowship (get paid but the per hour rate is poor)! So by the time I was working and making my adult salary I was 32. My wife was a student and then a child raiser, so we were on the single salary. So yeah, a slow and steady trod through the mountain of net worth.
You are absolutely correct that I should only compare myself to myself. But we all like to compare ourselves to the Jones and in personal finance that is the net worth of other bloggers!
Have a great day.