What’s the secret to watching your net worth grow like crazy?
Actually knowing your net worth, so you have something to watch!
Last week, I applied for home loan. Guess how long it took me to complete my application?
About 3 minutes.
My loan officer was stunned with how quickly I was able to answer every one of his questions.
Why was it so quick and easy? I just opened my net worth worksheet that I had updated a few days before. This is the same worksheet I’m going to give you here in this post.
A typical person will calculate their net worth only a couple times in their life. When they do, it’s a huge headache finding and gathering various financial documents.
Bottom line, your net worth isn’t just useful for getting a loan. It’s the single largest indicator of your financial health and status.
I’m going to show you why and how you can calculate your net worth in 5 minutes or less.
What is Net Worth?
Let’s back up for a second. What is net worth?
To put it simply, your net worth is what you own minus what you owe.
Assets - Liabilities = Net Worth
The fancy financial word for what you own is “assets”. What is you owe is called your “liabilities”. Subtract your liabilities from your assets and what’s left is your net worth.
Why Calculate Your Net Worth?
Calculating your net worth gives you a clear and accurate picture of your finances. If you’re nearing retirement, knowing this number is absolutely critical. For everyone else, the actual number may not matter quite as much as how the number changes over time.
Doing this calculation periodically will allow you to determine how well you’re managing your money. If your net worth is higher next month than it is today, you know you’re on the right path.
Tracking your net worth is an effective way to stay on top of your finances. The Milk and Honey Money Net Worth Calculator will allow you to visualize your month-to-month progress to help you achieve your goals.
Use this worksheet and you will become more responsible with your money. It will simplify your finances and give you a wealth building advantage.
Step 1: Open The Calculator
Ready? Set your five minute timer and let’s get started.
- Open – Click the link to open the Milk and Honey Money Net Worth Calculator. Click “Use this template” to get your personal, secure copy of the spreadsheet. If you don’t have a Google account yet, get one! It only takes a few seconds to sign up.
- Date - Start at the top by entering today’s date.
Tip: Enter your numbers into the yellow cells. Don’t modify the white cells. They are set up to do your calculations automatically.
- Rename Tab – At the bottom of the sheet, you will see the tab that says “Current Month”. Click this tab and select “Rename”. Enter the current month and year. (Screen shot shows the tab already renamed to “Sept 2012″.)
Step 2: Add Your Assets
An asset is anything with a positive value. Assets get added to your net worth sheet.
- Checking – If you have online banking, log in and enter the balance of your checking account(s). If you get paper statements in the mail, enter the balance at the end of the previous statement period.
- Savings – Do the same with your savings account(s).
- Emergency Fund - Don’t have one yet? More on that in an upcoming post.
- Other Cash - Include all other assets like cash in your wallet, piggy bank, mattress, money market account, certificate of deposit, etc.
Tip: If you have more than one account for the same category, click on the cell and type “=$(Account 1)+(Account 2)”, then press enter.
- Stocks - Stocks, mutual funds, or index funds that you own outside of a retirement account.
- Bonds - Treasury, municipal, corporate, or any other bonds.
- Other Investments - Include all other investments such as REIT’s, ETF’s, or anything else that doesn’t fit in the first two categories.
- 401k - Traditional or Roth 401K.
- IRA - Traditional, Roth, self-directed, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA.
- Other Retirement - Include all your other retirement investments such as 403b, 457, Keogh, or any others.
- House - Use Yahoo! Homes and take the average of the Zillow and Eppraisal to estimate the value of your house.
Tip: The formula to get your Average Home Value = (Zillow + Eppraisal) / 2
- Car - Use Kelly Blue Book to estimate your car’s value. I prefer to use the “Private Party Value” option since I don’t plan on ever doing a trade-in with a dealership.
- Other Property - Include anything else that you could and would be willing to quickly sell for cash if needed. Gold coins, high-end electronics, jewelry, your brand new boat, etc. I recommend only including items worth $1,000 or more.
Don’t go overboard with this step. Be conservative and only include items with significant value. The idea is to set up a spreadsheet that allows you to quickly and consistently determine your net worth.
Congrats, you now have a total of all your assets. If you “own” a house or car, but still have a loan, don’t get excited quite yet. Your total assets number is going to be much higher than your final net worth.
Step 3: Subtract Your Liabilities
A liability is something with a negative value. Liabilities get subtracted to your net worth sheet.
- Credit Cards - If you have online access to your accounts, add up the current outstanding balance for all of your credit cards. If you only get a paper copy of your statement in the mail once a month, use your last statement balance.
- Mortgage - Depending on your lender, this may take a little more work. First, look on your last statement. Does it show your principle balance? If not, see if you can go online to find this number. Your last resort wwill be to call your lender to find out. While you’re on the phone, ask if there’s an easier way to access this information next month. Ask for an amortization schedule, which is a table that will save you time in the coming months.
- Car Loan - Similar to a mortgage, your car loan balance can be found a few different ways. Your monthly statement, online, or with a phone call. You can also use this calculator which will ask you to enter your original auto loan amount, term, interest rate and start date. After you click “Calculate”, click “Show/Recalculate Amortization Table” and scroll down to find the balance for the current month. If possible, scroll down to the bottom and click “Print” to save this table for future reference.
- Student Loans - Add up the balance of your student loans.
- Other Loans - Include any and all other loans in this category.
The Result: Your Net Worth
There it is. The number you’ve worked so hard to calculate. Your Net Worth.
If your net worth is a positive number, good work! You have a head start on the road to the land of Milk and Honey.
If it’s negative, don’t fret. Remember, this number is just a starting point.
With some hard work and time spent reading your favorite personal finance blog, you can get back on track toward the personal finance promised land.
Don’t use your net worth to brag to (or envy) your neighbor. It’s not about comparing to make yourself feel better or worse. What matters most is how your net worth changes over time.
Married? You should include your spouse’s assets and liabilities too. When you’re all finished, schedule a time to do a quick review together. This is also great opportunity to discuss your budget and goals as a family.
How to Increase Your Net Worth
Unless you’re already sitting comfortably in the land of Milk and Honey, one of your goals will most likely be to increase your net worth.
How is this accomplished? By obtaining assets that increase in value and paying off your loans and debts as quickly as possible.
Did you catch that? Assets come it two varieties. They can either increase (fancy financial term is “appreciate”) or decrease (“depreciate”) in value over time.
You want your assets to appreciate.
Here are a couple of examples based on actual historical data:
- Buy an index fund today for $100 and in 10 years it should be worth about $200.
- Buy a new car today for $20,000 and in 10 years it will likely be worth about $10,000.
The take away of this little lesson is be wise with how you’re spending and investing your money.
Above all, remember increasing your net worth should not by your ultimate goal.
For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
and her wages are better than gold.
If you feel yourself getting caught up in this, take a step back and refocus on what’s really important.
You may be wondering about those two extra rows at the bottom of the spreadsheet. These are bonus calculations that will get you even more in tune with your finances.
I use and recommend CreditKarma.com for getting your credit score.
As you may know, your credit score is yet another important indicator of your financial health. Credit Karma makes it easy to check your score. It’s quick, free, and won’t harm your score in the process.
Once you’re signed up and logged in, check out your “Credit Report Card” to get more information about how your credit score is calculated. You will be able to see if you have any issues with your credit history that may be hurting your score (and how to fix it!)
Depending on your age, financial status, or your goals, this number may or may not interest you. As you start thinking about retirement and figuring out how much money you will need to be able to retire, you’re going to want to keep an eye on this number.
The calculation in the spreadsheet uses the 4% safe withdraw rule. This rule says you can safely withdraw 4% of your net worth each year without worrying about running out of money at any point of your retirement. Since most people think about their spending in terms of $ per month, this is what is shown.
Tip: If this number doesn’t interest you and you want it out of your spreadsheet, click on the number 41 to highlight the row in the document, right click the 41, and select “Delete row”.
Next Step: Update and Review Monthly
From here on out, plan to update your net worth worksheet once a month.
For consistency, it’s best to pick a certain time of the month to do your updates and stick to it. Put it on your calendar every month and make it a habit.
While your brand new spreadsheet is still open, let me show you how to get set up for next month.
- Click the tab for the current month and select “Duplicate”.
- Click the new tab, then select “Rename”, enter the next month and year.
- Select the yellow asset cells from the “Current Month”, right click in the highlighted area and select “Copy”.
- Select the yellow asset cells for “Previous Month” assets, right click in the selected area and select “Paste”.
Tip: If you you mess up at any time, hold “ctrl” and push “z” to undo your last step. If you’re not a fan of shortcuts, feel free to do it the old fashioned way and just type the numbers in the “Previous Month” column.
- Repeat the copy and paste process for the yellow liabilities and credit score cells.
- Delete last month’s numbers from the “Current Month” column and you’re done!
If you didn’t follow along the first time, please scroll back up to the top of this post and do it! Maybe you’re at work or just don’t have time right now. Bookmark this post and come back soon. It’s worth it!
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