Do you have a clear picture of your personal finances? Your net worth is a measure of your financial health. It also is a tool to evaluate your financial progress over time to help you reach your goals. Learn more about why you should track your net worth and get started with our net worth tracker spreadsheet.
Why Track Your Net Worth
Whenever you hear what amount of money someone is “worth,” it’s referring to their net worth. But the truth is, measuring personal net worth isn’t just for millionaires. Despite the rosy picture some people paint of their net worth, many people start out with a negative net worth. That’s okay! As long as you are working to get out of debt and grow your net worth, you’re making progress.
However, if you aren’t tracking your net worth then you don’t have a real picture of your personal finances. Net worth is the big picture, whereas monthly budgets are more granular and help you understand and reallocate your spending.
Everyone should know and track their net worth. It helps to identify where you can improve and puts you on the path to achieving your financial goals.
How To Calculate Your Net Worth
Now that you know why you should track your net worth, the real question is how do you calculate your net worth?
Net Worth = What You Own (Assets) – What You Owe (Liabilities)
It sounds simple enough, but of course there’s a little more to it than meets the eye.
What You Own: Assets
This gets a little tricky because you probably own a lot of things that will lose value, or depreciate, over time. Most experts agree that when measuring net worth you should only include assets that should gain value, or appreciate, over time. Ultimately, you’re tracking your net worth for your own purposes so you can include what you want as long as you’re consistent (and account for depreciation, such as of cars).
Assets include: cash and money in bank accounts, investment accounts and real estate
Can also include: cars and other vehicles, jewelry and other collectibles
When you calculate assets, be sure to use the market value. This means that even if you paid $250,000 for a house, you should use an estimate of its current value. You can check a real estate site, like Zillow, for an estimate. The same goes for cars, which you can check an estimate of the market value on Kelley Blue Book.
What You Owe: Liabilities
Liabilities are your debts. This is more black and white than assets. What you owe includes the outstanding balance of all loans (mortgage, auto, personal, etc.) and other debts, such as credit cards and retail cards. These are the things that bring your net worth down, for now, but remember not all debt is bad. In general, debt that increases your net worth over time is actually considered good debt. Learn more about good debt vs bad debt in our article.
Net Worth Tracker Spreadsheet
This is a lot to keep track of manually, so we made a net worth tracker spreadsheet, which you can download and it will open in Excel.
Here’s a preview with sample data for each quarter of 2020 filled out:
The first sheet shown above, Net Worth Overview, pulls from data you will enter on the second sheet, Assets & Liabilities. There are spots for you to fill out through the end of 2030.
You only need to change the info on the second sheet based on your bank accounts and lines of credit. For each quarter, check each account and fill it in. Then the tracker on the first sheet will show your net worth on the graph.
Some people suggest tracking your net worth on a monthly basis, however we personally feel that this is too frequent. Instead do a monthly check-in on your budget and a quarterly check-in of your net worth.
You may find that you want to pay some of your debt off faster because you recognize that so much of your monthly payment goes toward interest rather than principal. Observations like this are hard to come by without seeing your assets and liabilities over time.
You can set a recurring calendar reminder for the quarterly dates so that you don’t forget to fill in your net worth tracker. Remember, tracking your net worth is a helpful tool for you to measure your financial progress. It should help you set and evaluate your financial goals.
Increasing Your Net Worth
The point of tracking your net worth is to watch it increase as time goes by. There are many ways to do that, but in general you want to increase your assets and decrease your liabilities. Find out the average net worth targets by age.
Pay Off Debt
If you have multiple lines of high-interest credit, you should make a repayment plan in order to lower your overall debt. Credit cards usually have high interest rates, especially compared to that of mortgage and auto loans. Learn more about debt repayment strategies in our article, Paying Off Debt: Snowball vs Avalanche Methods.
Save More Money
This starts with understanding how you are currently spending your money and then managing your money more efficiently with a budget. We recommend using a zero-based budget, which gives every dollar of income a job including expenses, savings and paying off debt. To get started read our article, Make A Zero-Based Budget & Save 18% More Money.
One method of ensuring you can achieve your financial goals, whether it is paying off debt or saving more money, is by creating SMART goals. Learn more in our article.
Are you going to start tracking your net worth? Let us know in the comments!
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com