It’s 2020, a new year, a new decade so let’s say we start right by getting our financial house in order.
The first thing we need to do is take stock of our financial health. Whether we think the results are good or back in our opinions the only way we can plot a course forward is to face the reality. For some of us our reality might be that we have positive net worth, and for others we might have a negative net worth.
What’s a net worth?
Simply put net worth is your assets minus your liabilities.
“So what are my assets and debt?” Assets are anything you own and are not paying, and liabilities are the opposite, these are things that you are paying for and you don’t own. A few examples of assets are cash in your bank account, a retirement account, or a vehicle you own. Liabilities are credit card debts, student loans, or a home mortgage. Your net worth is what would be left if you were to sell all your assets and pay off your liabilities. Now hopefully we are all like Rich Uncle Pennybags above and have handfuls of cash. There are many net worth calculators on the internet you can visit. They are easy to use and help to remind you of assets or liabilities that you many have forgotten. Investopedia is a great website for financial information and has a net worth calculator, however I like the one at Kiplinger because it already list typical assets and liabilities, where as the Investopedia calculator only has a few of each, and I couldn’t get it to calculate for me.
Dang! I’m broke…
Me too don’t worry… me too. That’s OK, because we are going to make a plan to pay off some of our debt. As an example, let’s take a look at an average American’s household debts.
So to break this down into bite size morsels, we are going to have to assume a few things. I’m going to assume we just bought a brand new house with a 30 year mortgage with insurance and taxes included, and we bought a used vehicle with a 48 month note, and our student loans is on a 30 year payment program. These values come from different articles about the median or average debt in the U.S. The next image will have our debts broken down into monthly payments.
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]
If we break down the U.S. Median income into monthly income, then every month we are receiving $4801. I am excluding taxes and interest for the sake of simplicity. Our total debt for the month is $2400. That leaves $2401 left over for the month. Realistically, we won’t be able to use the full $2401 unless you don’t need food or gas for the month. So courtesy of my trusty spreadsheet skills, I present a few option with paying off our credit card debt.
What is debt worth to you?
We’ve come face to face with our debts. We’ve calculated different options on how long it will take to pay off our debts. Now we have to choose how quickly we want to pay off the debt. I excluded interest rates earlier to make our calculations easier, but now we have to consider the interest rate. If we assume you got a great credit rate at 7.49% APR, then the one month interest for you will be $42.75. It doesn’t look like much, but let’s look at what happens if you just pay the minimum amount of $110.
Interest is a powerful tool depending on who is wielding it, and in the case of credit cards we aren’t wielding jack! Don’t worry. Let’s take a look and see what happens if we pay more than the minimum balance.
By paying $33 more than the minimum payment, we would bring our expected payoff time back down to 58 months instead of 80. If we were able to pay $600 a month with interest, then we would have the debt paid off in 12 months. The quicker we can get this debt paid off, then the quicker we can increase our net worth.
Just the beginning…
Taking a look at our entire financial picture is one of the first steps in determining where we are financially, where we want to be financially, and how we get there. As a bit of confirmation as I was writing this blog post (it was over a course of a few days), I checked the mail with my little boy and I received a letter from Personal Capital. At the top of the letter it says, “Let’s be honest, do you know how much money you really have?” I have a Personal Capital account, but I haven’t used it in a long time. I plan to log in and track my net worth, and see what else they have to offer. To me the letter signifies that people who come to Personal Capital haven’t taken a broad look at their financial picture, and don’t know if they are close to their financial goals. This particular piece of mail was about retirement, and we will talk about my borderline obsession with retirement in a later article.
It’s important to track your retirement, savings, and other financial goals just like you track your bills. Even if you have all your bills and savings automated, you still need to keep an eye on your accounts to make sure your money is going to the right place.
Let’s get our net worth figured out, and see if we can do better this year with debt pay off and savings. Leave a comment and let me know how you track your net worth, and keep up with your financial goals. Cheers to 2020!
1. Net Worth Calculator | Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/net-worth/demo/.
2. Net Worth Calculator: How to Calculate Net Worth. http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/saving/T063-S001-net-worth-calculator-how-to-calculate-net-worth/index.php.
3. Median Sales Price of Houses Sold for the United States. 4 Sept. 2019, https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS.
4. Bureau, U. C. Median Household Income in the United States. 14 Sept. 2017, https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2017/comm/income-map.html.
5. College, N. Average Student Loan Debt in the U.S. – 2020 Statistics | Nitro. https://www.nitrocollege.com/research/average-student-loan-debt.
6. Jones, J. Average Car Loan Debt Statistics 2020 | LendingTree. 8 Jan. 2020, https://www.lendingtree.com/auto/debt-statistics/.
7. El Issa, E. NerdWallet’s 2019 Household Debt Study. 2 Dec. 2019, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/.