Being open and frank about your finances is part of getting started improving them. Sometimes this can be hard to do, especially if you aren't on top of the details of your budget. There are a lot of ways to measure your financial health, but one efficient way is your net worth.
It answers a simple question, “How much wealth do you have right now?”
A positive number means the value of your assets are greater than the monetary responsibilities of your liabilities. A negative number means you owe more in debt than the total value of what you own.
It’s important to note your net worth doesn’t tell you much aside from what the situation is at the present. If it's negative it may have been much worse a year ago, while if it's positive it may have been a lot higher a year ago. Just because one is positive now and the other is negative won’t tell you everything about your finances.
Keeping tabs on your worth today and next month and the month after will help show you the progress you’re making in building wealth, in addition to how well you’re keeping to your budget.
Calculating your net worth is an easy three-step process and spits out a number you can track and compare over time. If you already have your accounts entered in Mvelopes you can see this in a couple of clicks by going to the Reports tab and clicking on the Net Worth Over Time report. For an accurate measure, you’ll be using some assets or liabilities that don’t show up in typical bank accounts. You can create offline accounts to show these on the report and adjust the value accordingly as time goes by.
1. List Your Assets and Their Value
Start with your cash-equivalent assets like your checking and saving accounts. Any 401(k), IRA, current values of stocks, bonds or other securities and the cash value of life insurance policies. Continue listing your assets by including the value of any real estate or property you own. You can use the most recent appraisal you have or ask a local realtor who can help determine the current value.
The third part of listing your assets includes personal property. Cars, furniture, jewelry, collectibles and other high-priced items. Consult any number of used car sources for the current value of your car. For personal property, the rule of thumb is to subtract 25 percent of the value for each year you have owned it. Jewelry and other collectibles usually maintain its value, so the purchase price is probably the best estimate. If something was a gift you can see how much similar items sell for on eBay or Amazon or get a professional assessment.
2. List Your Debt Obligations
Start with the current amounts you owe on your mortgage, home equity loans and other personal loans. Add to the list your vehicle loans or any RVs or boats that you have financed. For the final step, list your balances for consumer loans like your student loans, credit cards, personal loans, charge accounts or any other type of consumer debt.
Total the value of your assets. Total the amount of your liabilities. Subtract the liabilities from the assets. What’s left is your approximate net worth.
You may be surprised, startled or even disappointed, but make sure you have been honest with yourself and included all your assets and liabilities. Write down your number and today’s date and make sure to check each month or every quarter to see just how much progress you have made.
- List Assets and their Value
- List Debt Obligations
Complete a net worth statement and take stock of what you didn’t know or hadn't seen in a while.