It has been said that the first step to improvement is measurement. This is especially true of personal finance. value of net metering is the first step to increase net worth. My husband and I started tracking our net worth nearly five years ago. This simple spreadsheet exercise has helped us tremendously in achieving our goals of personal finance in recent years. When thinking about personal finances the same way that a company builds its balance, it is easy to see the big picture and achieve the long-term financing.
Like a company’s balance sheet, “equity” is calculated as assets minus liabilities. ” Our spreadsheet is constructed with a list of assets such as our investment in Verizon stock, and debts in the first column and the monthly date at the top. Every month or two, I enter the value of each account in the appropriate column. Since my husband and I are types of accounting and geek no subtotals also list for each of the following sections:
Assets and Stocks
We started our spreadsheet by listing our assets. We started with “liquid” assets. These assets that are readily convertible into cash such as our stocks and bonds. Our liquid assets include: checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, mutual funds and individual stocks. Liquid assets may also include bond funds, bonds, treasury bills and savings bonds, to name a few.
Next on the worksheet that our list of “retirement” of assets. These include our 401K and IRA accounts, and any linked stocks. We have been slow to turn over former employer 401K accounts, so we have accumulated a good collection of accounts in this section. Finally, we will do the right thing and consolidate them, but meanwhile our monthly equity exercise has forced us to track the locations and quantities of these accounts.
Following retirement assets that the list “university” active. Our son two years, currently has two savings accounts for college listed in this section. We monitor account college tuition pre-payment and escrow of our son in this section.
After the assets of the university have a section of “fixed” assets. This section includes our home, cars and furniture. Other common assets may include boats, motorcycles, coins, holiday homes, etc. The values of cars usually updated a few times a year, looking for value in the calculator the Kelly Blue Book value. This value is depreciated over time based on age, mileage and vehicle condition. The value of the house I can update once or twice a year with our best estimate of what the house would sell. There are many real estate websites that can help with this assessment.
Now comes “responsibility” of the balance sheet. Similar to a balance sheet of enterprises starting with “short term” liabilities. Our short-term liabilities include our two credit cards, our car loans and the loan of my husband graduates from school.
Fortunately, the credit card debt is at a level that can be paid every month and car loans are now non-existent, but that was not always the case. Had a strong fiscal discipline and our exercise of equity to reach that stage.
Finally we come to our mortgage loan portfolio. This is a very easy to follow and that the outstanding amount every month is the mortgage statement. That’s all for liabilities. Other examples of liabilities could include commercial loans, credit lines, storage, and loans from family members.
Subtracting liabilities from assets given net. The beauty of this simple exercise is the point of view the overall picture gives personal finance. With a bit of fiscal discipline, increase savings and reduce the debt each month, giving a higher total value of equity.
For our family, this spreadsheet has been an excellent tool for monitoring investment performance and measuring our progress on the debt. In addition, by regularly checking on investments and credit card accounts, we are protecting identity theft and surprise changes in the return on investment.