Understanding your net worth can help you make better financial decisions for your life – and knowing what you have helps get you what you want.
Your net worth is the sum of what you own (your assets) minus what you owe (your debt). Net worth can be much more than investments or savings alone. It’s important to understand everything that goes into your net worth because it might be different than you originally anticipated.
Let's look at an example
- Nancy and her husband have $1m in investment accounts, retirement accounts and bank savings accounts.
- They live in a home in New Jersey worth $750,000, plus a condo near the beach worth $400k that they bought a few years ago.
- Nancy's valuables, such as her jewelry collection and family's boat are worth about $100k.
The couple's assets total $2.25m. But they still have to account for their debt.
- The mortgage they have left on the beach home is $200k.
- They have a line of credit worth $150k to pay for home repairs and help cover tuition for their two children.
The couple's debts total $350k bringing their net worth to $1.9m.
- $1m in investment, retirement and savings accounts
- $750k for primary home
- $400k for secondary home
- $100k in valuables, including jewelry and a boat
Total assets: $2.25m
Nancy + her husband's liabilities/debt (what they owe):
- $200k for the mortgage for their secondary home
- $150K for a line of credit for primary home repairs, secondary home additions, and college tuition
Total liabilities: $350k
Nancy's + her husband's total net worth:
Assets ($2.25m) – Liabilities ($350k) = $1.9m total net worth
Know Your Net Worth Kickstart Guide
Before you can go anywhere you have to know where you stand. One of the first money moves you can make is to calculate your net worth. Net worth equals your assets (everything you own) minus your debts (everything you owe).
Use this Kickstart Guide to help determine what assets and debts might factor into your calculation.
- Checking, savings and other cash accounts
- Investment accounts
- Employer retirement plans (401(k), SEP-IRA, SAR-SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, 403(b), 457 Money Purchase)
- Individual Retirement Accounts (Traditional IRA, Roth IRA)
- Annuities and tax-deferred products (Fixed Annuity, Indexed Annuity, Variable Annuity)
- Education accounts (529 plans, UGMA/UTMA, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts)
- Employer stock awards (e.g., stock options)
- Deferred compensation plans
- Primary residence
- Secondary residence / vacation home
- Other real estate
- Collectibles / personal property
- Cars / boats
- Business entities
- Cash value of insurance policies (e.g., life insurance)
- First mortgage
- Second mortgage
- Lines of credit (e.g., against homes or investments)
- Car / boat loans
- Business loans and other securities-based loans
- Credit cards