Let’s talk about Net Worth Updates

One of my favorite things for the last year or so has been watching my net worth numbers climb. I’ve posted about it every month since I started tracking it. It has been incredibly motivating to see how far I’ve come each month and to look back on where I was 1, 2 and sometimes 3 years before hand.

With that said, I’m planning to stop posting them or at least significantly alter how I present the numbers.

Here are my reasons why.

I selectively track my accounts

I decided to start tracking and posting my net worth as I was nearing the end of my loans. I enjoyed tracking my student loan balance and I wanted to keep tracking something to keep going. The primary goal of my tracking was to see how I was doing now compared to how I was doing when I was knee deep in debt. To reflect the shift, I only tracked the accounts where my newly available money would go. Where did the money go? It mainly went to my 401k, IRA, and House Fund, so I track those accounts.

I threw in my car loan and car value because I am technically still in debt, but I have an asset to cover it. The car is a depreciating asset, but it’s depreciating slower that I am paying off the loan balance.  I also track a fund I created to pay for car expenses.

I have a taxable account and I wanted to be aware of what that account was doing, so I track that. I’m also building my HSA account, so I track that.

There are a lot of accounts missing from here. I don’t track my emergency fund or my travel fund. I intentionally chose not to track these accounts because they are planned spending accounts. I spend the travel fund frequently and I hope to never spend the emergency fund. I don’t want to feel punished with a lower net worth if and when I use these accounts.

I also don’t track my checking accounts. That money is there to be spent or to buffer. It seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth to keep an eye on those accounts. Sometimes I have more cash, sometimes I have less. With paychecks hitting at different times than autopay, the account balances don’t tell you anything.

These accounts aren’t the whole story

Hubs and I have joint finances. One thing that is glaringly missing from my net worth posts is anything about him. I track his accounts, but I don’t post anything about them here. Those are his numbers, not mine, and I don’t feel comfortable sharing them.

We only have one pool of money and things get complicated because he contributes to the House Fund.  Earlier in 2016, he significantly increased his 401k contributions after I canceled the race. By increasing his contributions, there is less money to go to the House Fund and my monthly tracked progress slowed.

My progress also slowed over the summer as I increased our travel fund contributions to pre-pay for our Australia trip.

By not tracking the whole story, and I don’t want to track the whole story, I feel like I’m posting an inaccurate albeit consistent report.

We’re on cruise control

My 401k and IRA are set to max. I contribute a set amount per month. The only thing that changes is if I throw in a little extra to max out my IRA early. Everything else is left to the market. If it’s a good market month, my accounts will be up. If it’s a bad market month, my monthly growth will diminish or eventually get wiped out by market fluctuations. Soon will come the days when the market moves my account more than my contributions!

My car loan only has a 1% interest rate. I’m committed to only paying the minimum until its done. That provides for a really exciting update. It’s either down $377 or $376. Maybe soon it will be down $378! My car fund goes up $50 each month. Every few months I add $1 to account for interest.

I don’t contribute to my Taxable account. I get dividends twice per year and a statement at that time to update my progress. The account does what it does.

My HSA goes up by a set amount each month, plus a tiny influx with the market. Any medical bills come out of it.

The only real mover or shaker is the House Fund. Sometimes it’s up $3000. Lately, I’ve only been able to contribute a few hundred bucks. (Stupid Koalas. Being so cute and luring me down under). Once we buy a house, what will I show you?

Do I want to put it all out there?

I hate to contribute to keeping finances under wraps, but I’m not sure that I want to contribute to the post it all online movement much longer. These are my real account balances and it gets a more and more unnerving to post them the larger the balances grow.

I’ve thought about shifting to a percentage base system or posts graphs without numbers, but those thoughts are still bouncing around in my head. I’m not quite sure how I would do that.

My purpose here was to show that you can tackle a big bucket of debt and use the momentum to build a strong financial foundation. I feel like I’ve done that. I don’t want this to be a brag fest and sometimes it feels that way, as much as I try for it to not be.

What do you think? Any  tips on where things should go from here?


25 thoughts on “Let’s talk about Net Worth Updates

  1. This is exactly why I chose to share my savings rate, not my actual numbers (or my net worth!) Not that it’s like, anything to write home about, but I feel like savings rate is a metric that gives enough to start a discussion (“OMG but hoowwwwww do you do that?”) and not enough that it’s awkward among family, all of whom read my blog. Also, it still allows me to have frank discussions about the real things that impact my money month to month, and people can infer that if my savings rate is lower, my net worth probably went up less, haha.

    • Write home? You write to the whole internet about it! I like tracking the savings rate. It also helps that its the name of your blog! It also helps because its such a critical number. Absolute values are so relative.

      I kept tracking to 100k because that’s such an awesome milestone to reach. Changes in the works… changes.

  2. So. A coworker found my Twitter account. And I kinda sorta forgot that I put in my Twitter bio that we paid off $24k of debt last year. I completely understand why the idea of sharing numbers is so deeply personal NOW.

    As for net worth, I don’t really track ours in special ways. And I could make myself look like a money genius if I started posting them next year. Grad school will be paid off and we’ll both get sizeable raises from it. So out net worth is going to jump. If I start posting now when my savings account is bleeding tuition money, I’ll look like an idiot. Neither is true. So I say, do whatever feels best for you!

  3. I’m a firm believer in the “do what feels best for you” camp with Penny. I share numbers because I’m fine with it for now… I wonder how that would be as those continue to rise and real people I know keep finding out about it. Right now, I feel okay about it (my mom is terrible about not telling everyone she knows about the blog… oi!). But, as always, you make the rules around here.

    • I do make the rules! I wonder if sharing numbers is more appropriate around major milestones. I was so proud to get my debt to zero, but now as my balances grow to infinity (lol) I’m more uncomfortable. Having less negative is more normal than having more positive.

  4. I personally really like to see numbers until people hit the seven figure mark, and then I start to hate them. (I have issues with jealousy, especially when the six figure net worth is still a ways off for me). As someone who, similar to you, graduated from a professional program with a significant amount of debt, I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing your journey, although I can understand your reluctance to keep posting the numbers. I write about finances a bit on my blog, but the only time I’ve ever posted my net worth was when it hit zero.

    • That makes sense watching numbers climb to 7 figures. I’ve enjoyed that with other bloggers. I like major milestones in general, though. I’m not sure I’ve started to hate anyone for it, but it certainly gets less interesting!

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed whatever I’ve got going on here! 🙂

  5. I was advised by many of my readers not to bother to share actual numbers, or my real name, so that I could continue to be my most authentic self. I found it very interesting their preference was for less transparency but I think they know that I do feel less constrained when I don’t worry about people knowing me in offline life.

    I think it’s interesting that Solitary Diner’s only able to like seeing numbers up to a point. I personally love to see somewhat unattainable numbers, in most cases it lights a little fire in my belly to go make great things happen to our NW and of course to our level of comfort and freedom.

    • The problem I have is that many people with the seven figure net worth are my age (or younger), while I just recently paid off my med school debt because I went back to school late (age 29). There’s part of me that is acutely aware that I could have been retired by now if I hadn’t gone tinned school and had simply been really frugal!

    • I absolutely agree that more anonymity produces a different line of thought. It’s probably my favorite part of blogging: Thinking and writing about stuff that regular people aren’t comfortable talking about. My problem has been my increased reservation about sharing numbers and the way my brain thinks. It just wants to share numbers!

      Interesting to hear that crazy high net worths inspire you. After certain numbers, I don’t get it. I assume that I’ll never save that much because I’ll quit before that. No sense even thinking about those numbers.

  6. I’m quite possibly permanently done with net worth updates, except maybe annually? But this whole joining finances thing is complicated. Once you reach a certain point, I no longer think it is healthy to track it every day or month. You are better off focusing on the parts you can control, like your spending, cash flow, and savings rate.

    I think what you’re really saying is that you feel your finances are too boring to share with us because you have them together! 😉

    • This is exactly what I needed to hear. You are the best. I’ve got a few things in mind that I want to keep a closer eye on. Tracking those will be much more inspirational and motivating than tracking accounts set to max.

      • Happy to help! I’ve always liked tracking net worth as it encompasses all financial goals and shows that prioritizing one thing for a bit is okay because overall is still going up. I like tracking what expenses exactly 4% of my investment portfolio would cover – that one is fun. I’ve been making some good progress there lately.

  7. I posted that comment before I got to answering your question: where should you go? Maybe decide what growth is most meaningful to you and share that? I share our allocations and how they change, and also our change over time, because those are the metrics that mean something to me. The first is something I have to be better about and the second shows me we continue to make progress despite mistakes and setbacks, or raises a red flag if we’re no longer making progress.

    • Look at you actually following the homework 😉I’ve got some things in mind of what I want to track. I absolutely agree that it must be meaningful. Right now what I’m tracking isn’t.

  8. I applaud your decision! I guess I already flew in the face of the pf blogging community when I suggested that net worth doesn’t even matter that much- http://penniesanddollars.com/net-worth-even-matter/. My take is that as long as you have a sustainable cash flow (not taking on new debt, steadily paying off old debt, and concrete plan for replacing your primary income), your net worth really doesn’t matter.

    And as for sharing/not sharing numbers, I’ve definitely fallen on the ‘not sharing’ side. I very proactively advertised my blog among friends/co-workers, many of whom I know are struggling with debt and finances. While I wanted to provide useful tips, I didn’t want to come across as snobby.

    • Hi PnD, It totally makes sense that you wouldn’t share numbers, especially based on the format of your blog. I like your argument for how NW is not that important. I’m not that far along the spectrum, but it certainly doesn’t mean as much as we say it does.

  9. Congrats on all of your progress so far. I list all of my transactions and portfolios in real dollars. But, I see the other side. Never share actuals unless you’re 100% comfortable with the idea.

  10. I’ve only recently started tracking mine properly and plan to do it regularly – between mortgage and starting to invest regularly it really is a big motivator! I want to hit $100k by 30. Not sure if I want to join the blogging club and sharing numbers though. Plus tbh I’m probably too lazy to keep it up.

  11. I totally support this! I’ve always felt cagey about numbers anyway, but you know I’m a big believer in telling the story through charts and graphs minus the actual numbers. I can definitely see that you’ve hit a turning point in your finances, and that you are feeling differently about how much to share now. As many others have already said, go with your gut on this, and share only what feels right to you!

  12. Great post. It’s tricky to post openly when you have a partner to consider too, and I certainly respect that while spouses often share finances (as my husband and I do), it’s still respectful not to splash those figures over the internet! I’m in two minds about exact figures – in some respects it can be helpful for your readers to have a guide, in others, it can be demotivating for other people… So it’s always a balancing act. I think you should do whatever you feel comfortable with! Congratulations on your progress! – from an Aussie! 🐨

    • Hi Sarah! Welcome to my wonderful world of fun! I totally agree that numbers are tricky. They can be the shove someone needs to get moving or the blanket that let’s them climb back in bed and hide. I think mine have served their purpose. Time to track something else in a different way. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, all the way from down under!

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