What is a Net worth?
A net worth is how much a person is worth in monetary terms after taking away everything they still owe money for. It’s a snapshot of a person’s financial position in that moment of time. The value of assets can go up and down day to day, sometimes minute to minute whereas liabilities are designed to reduce over time (it’s not always the case) but these factors can alter your net worth day to day.
The calculation to work out your net worth is:
Assets – Liabilities = Net worth
What’s an Asset?
An asset is something owned by a person or a company that has an economic value, basically its worth some money. It could be sold for a profit either now or in the future.
Assets are; cash in bank accounts, savings, retirement savings (pensions), bonds, vehicles, plant and machinery, shares, property, dividends, artwork and jewellery.
What are Liabilities?
A liability is something that a person or a company owes money for. For example, a loan taken to buy a car would be classed as a liability. Credit cards, personal loans, pay day loans, student loans (although in the UK, these are generally not included), overdrafts and mortgages are all examples of liabilities.
You can include whatever assets and liabilities you like, but the most common ones I have already listed.
How to work out your Net Worth
I make two separate columns, one for assets and one for liabilities and list each one. Add each column up and then take the liabilities away from the assets. This will leave you with your own personal net worth.
A positive (+) net worth is one that is in credit, so you have more assets than liabilities (the position we all want to be in!). A negative (-) net worth shows that you have more liabilities than assets.
Most people that have a mortgage would have a negative net worth. I always thought it was seen as the ‘norm’ to have this debt as an adult who wanted to own their own home. Although over the years I’m seeing a shift in peoples’ attitudes towards debt including mortgages and find it’s becoming more popular to try and pay mortgages off earlier than the previous 25-year term.
Remember if you put your outstanding mortgage amount in as a liability to include the value of the house as an asset. If you only put the mortgage amount in your liability column it won’t accurately reflect your net worth and will show a negative. You can get an approximate value for your house through Zoopla https://www.zoopla.co.uk/home-values/. Also do this for any loans taken to buy assets, for example car loans and loans for plant and machinery.
Is knowing your net worth important?
In the whole scheme of things, it all comes down to personal preference, but it may be something you want to look at if you are looking to focus on your overall financial position. Whether you want to increase your wealth or to use it as motivation to pay off debt. I think it can be an important tool to access your assets v liability ratios and to make sure you’re not over committing yourself with debt.
Also, you can use it to check the diversity of your financial position. Diversification is a way to make sure you are spreading your risk and not putting all your eggs in one basket. So not putting all your money into one asset, like all your money being held only in cash products, or conversely putting all your money into shares or property.
There are many tools out there which will tell you to keep X amount in cash, X amount in shares. But it’s important to realise that there’s not one size fits all because it all depends on how much risk you want to take. It also depends on what age you are, what your immediate, medium and long-term plans are too. For example, there’s no point in putting all your money into long term investments if you want to buy a house in 12 months-time.
Up until this week, I’d never looked at my net worth. But when I started reviewing my pension and see what pensions I had frozen from companies I’d previously worked for, I was pleasantly surprised.
The reason why is because for a first time I have a positive net worth.
I couldn’t believe it. Even with my debt, I have a net worth of + £18,983.80.
This is what my figures look like at 25/10/2021
|Cash Savings||£1,468.00||Credit cards||£16,000.54|
|Assets Total||£34,984.34||Liabilities Total||£16,000.54|
|Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth||£34,984.34 – £16,000.54 = £18,983.80 +|
That’s because when I started work at 21, I paid into a pension with my employer straightaway. I was lucky that I started working for a bank and started my financial journey early.
As happy as I am having a positive net worth, I have decided to ignore it, for now anyway.
I know what your thinking, why would I want to ignore something that is so positive (pun intended lol) and I guess it’s because I don’t want to become complacent and lose my focus that I have to off my debt as quickly as possible.
But I will keep tabs on it every now and then as it definitely gives me a boost when I see the figures going in the right direction.
What net worth should we be aiming for?
I suppose this depends on what we want to do with the money, our retirement plans and how much we want to live off each year. Again, everyone will be different and even I haven’t got the magic number in mind right now.
According to the ONS, (Dec 2020) – the last reported figures in 2020 show the UK having an estimated net worth of £10 trillion, resulting in an average net worth of £150,000 per person. That doesn’t really seem that much at all when you consider how expensive everything is to buy and the problem with this average, it doesn’t consider the huge divide between rich and poor. The poorest people will have nowhere near as much as this and richer will probably have substantially more.
How to Increase your Net Worth?
The magic question, but the answer to this isn’t fancy or hard to do. I think it’s just a combination of:
- Paying off consumer debt (the bad stuff that doesn’t help buy you assets)
- Investing as much as you can whilst still enjoying your life
- Budgeting and being frugal helping you keep your finances in check and stop the overspending
- Increasing your earning potential by going for promotions
- Furthering your education if it helps you to get into the higher salary bracket
- Looking at passive income options; property, making products, books etc…
- Taking on extra jobs or side hustles
- Use tax efficient saving accounts
- Contribute to a pension either through your work or a personal pension
As I’m on my own journey of paying of debt and increasing my net worth, I can only give my perspective but believe success will happen when your consistent and you start getting excited about the numbers. If you’re not a numbers person like me, this can be boring. For you I’d recommend looking at the bigger picture of what those numbers mean to you.
With your numbers going in the right direction, will that give you the dream home, the car or financial security you want for yourself and your family?
Does it mean that you are changing your financial future and giving your children and their children the future you’ve always wanted?
Whatever it looks like for me and you, it’s all different for us all, but going for a positive net worth is definitely one to inspire for.
ONS (2020) https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/uksectoraccounts/bulletins/nationalbalancesheet/2020