There are several ways to measure your financial health. Your net worth can be an extremely useful
tool in gauging your economic status and overall financial progress from year to year.
According to the Federal Reserve, as reported by intuit.com
, the average family net worth by age group is:
|Age ||Net Worth Goal|
Understand these are general numbers not taking education and other factors into consideration. If you find yourself short
of your age group's range, don't panic and dont'despair!
It is never too late to significantly increase your net worth situation, even in retirement if you follow sound money management principles.
Your net worth is essentially a grand total of all your assets
minus your liabilities. In other words, your net worth is the
figure you get when you add up everything you own from the value of your home to the cash in your bank
account and then subtract from that the value of all of your debts which may include a mortgage, car or
student loans, or even credit card balances.
If you're wondering what your net worth is, learn how to calculate and interpret it.
What Does Net Worth Tell You About Your Finances?
Theoretically, your net worth is the value in cash you would have if you were to sell everything you own
and paid off all of your debts. In some cases, this number is actually negative, which indicates that you
own more in liabilities than in assets.
While this is not an ideal situation, it is very common for people just out of college or starting their
careers. In that case, your net worth is also a measure of how much debt you would still owe if you emptied
your bank accounts and sold everything you own to put towards your debt. Though neither is a realistic scenario,
what your net worth measures is more important than the (generally unrealistic) assumptions that are made to get to that number.
In fact, when it comes to your financial health, so to speak, there is no ubiquitous magic net worth number
you should be striving for. But, you should use your net worth to track your progress from year to year and
to hopefully see it improve and grow over time.
How to Calculate Your Net Worth
Calculating your net worth can be a simple process, but it requires that you gather all the information
surrounding your current assets and liabilities. Most financial planners recommend that their clients keep a
secure folder with information on all financial assets and liabilities to be updated at least once a
Gathering and organizing this information can be a bit of a chore at first, but ensures that you (and
anyone else who might need it like your spouse or financial advisor) have access to the information when
needed. Though such a folder can be turned into much more, calculating your net worth only requires basic
financial information regarding the things you own and the debt that you owe. Here's how to get started:
Calculate Your Assets
Start by listing your largest assets. For most people, this could include the value of their home, any
real estate properties, or vehicles like personal cars or boats. In the case of a business owner, this
list would also include the value of their business, which has its own more complicated calculation. Make
sure you use accurate estimates of market values in current dollars.
Next, you'll want to gather your latest statements for your more liquid assets.
These assets include checking and savings accounts, cash,
CDs or other investments such as brokerage accounts or retirement accounts.
Finally, consider listing other personal items that may be of value. These could include valuable
jewelry, coin collections, musical instruments, heirlooms, a rare wine collection, etc. You don't need to
itemize everything, but you can try to list items that are worth $500 or more.
Now, take all of the assets you have listed in the first three steps and add them together. This number
represents your total assets.
Calculate Your Liabilities
Again, start with themajor outstanding liabilities such as the balance on your
mortgage or car loans. List these loans and their most current balances.
Next, list all of your personal liabilities such as any balance on your credit cards, student loans, or any other debt
you may owe.
Now, add up the balances on all of the liabilities you listed above. This number represents your total
Calculate Your Net Worth
To calculate your net worth, simply subtract the total liabilities from the total assets. For this
exercise, it doesn't matter how big or how small the number. It doesn't necessarily matter if the number
is negative. Your net worth is just a starting point to have something to compare against in the future.
Repeat this process at least once a year and compare it with the previous year's number. By comparing
the two, you can then determine if you are making progress or getting further behind on your goals. You
may want to recalculate your net worth more often if you've embarked on an aggressive savings or debt
More Net Worth Tips:
Be conservative with estimates, especially with home and vehicle values. Inflating the value of large
assets may look good on paper, but may not paint an accurate picture of your net worth.
Keep liquid savings in high-yield accounts, which can help them grow faster if
you're earning a competitive annual percentage yield.
Make debt repayment a priority and consider refinancing or consolidating
debts at a lower interest rate to help speed up your debt payoff.
Review yourbudget to look for areas where you can reduce expenses and allocate more money to either savings or debt
repayment. If you have additional money to save, consider maxing out your emergency fund , then maxing out
your annual contributions to an individual retirement account.