Net Worth: How to Add Up Your Assets

Friday, August 14, 2015, AM | Leave Comment

Whether you’re planning an early retirement or you just want to know how you stack up against your peers, knowing your true net worth is a valuable tool for assessing your overall financial health. Your net worth will, in part, determine your income in retirement and can also give you clues about how to streamline your finances and eliminate debt now.

Net Worth: How to Add Up Your Assets

If you’re ready to find out where you stand, here is the process for calculating your total net worth.

  • Setting up Columns

    Net worth is determined by a simple equation. After adding all of your debts in one column and all your assets in another, you will then subtract your obligations from your assets. This will tell you precisely where your net worth stands. You can use a computer spreadsheet or a few sheets of note paper to do this, whichever way is most comfortable for you.

  • Locating All of Your Assets

    At first, you may feel as if you own very little beyond the balances of your checking and savings accounts. However, there are a lot of areas you may be forgetting in your calculations. Here are some often-overlooked assets:

    • Retirement Accounts. Add in the balance of your 401(k), IRAs, HSAs, and the cash value of your pension. While these items may not be immediately available, they are part of your assets and should be counted.

    • Investments. Stocks, bonds, CDs, your Christmas Club account, mutual funds, and your FOREX account should all be tallied. You may also want to count your balances in Bitcoin and the futures market, if any.

    • Collectibles, antiques and other small valuables. Collections of stamps, coins, dolls, antique silver, jewelry, or vinyl records all hold some worth. If you don’t want to pay for an appraisal, you can get a general idea of how much your valuables are worth by researching online.

    • Automobiles and recreational vehicles. You can check the Kelley Blue Book to determine the worth of your automobiles and check other sources for the current market value of any motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, golf carts, or boats you may have. If you are still paying on these items, list the amount still owed in the liabilities column.

    • Land and properties. Find comparable properties in the area to form an estimate of the current worth of your home, land, and secondary properties such as a vacation house. Companies like Ellis Equity can help you find the worth of your raw land or even commercial properties you may own.

      If you own a timeshare, include its current worth, too. You’ll be subtracting the amount still owed later. By adding in the fair market value, you’re adding in all your equity as assets.

  • Tally Your Liabilities

    After you’ve listed everything you own, you’ll need to turn your attention to extrapolating how much you owe. Add up the balances of all your credit cards, the amount left on your mortgage, any payments outstanding on vehicles, student loans, and any personal loans that you haven’t yet retired.

    Make sure you are only figuring the amount owed, and not including interest for years to come unless you know you will not be paying down the balances early.

  • Interpreting Your Net Worth

    After you’ve subtracted your liabilities from your assets, you may be depressed by the figure. However, many perfectly on-track people have a negative net worth, especially under the age of 45.

    If you have enormous student loan debt but command a high salary, your net worth can correct itself over time. The same can be said for those who have heavily invested in a home.

    Think about your future earnings and how they might be able to offset your debts now.

Calculating your net worth can be an eye-opening experience. By laying out your entire financial situation in an easily digested manner, you will be able to see where you can make improvements, and make any corrections you’d like in your budgeting or investing plans.

Information Credit: Ellis Equity

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