Calculating your Net Worth

I’ve helped quite a few people get a handle on their finances. It can be a big job. But the starting place is always the same: calculate your net worth. What is your net worth? It’s what you have minus what you owe. Why do you start with your net worth? Because you want it to go up, and the only way to tell if it’s going up is to keep track of it.

Whether you’re in debt and trying to get out, doing ok but want to know if you’ll be able to retire, or just starting out on your own, knowing your net worth and being able to easily keep it up to date is essential to understanding your finances. And it’s easier than you think. Continue reading

Motivation at the Margins

If you’ve read anything about retirement planning, you’ve probably seen the “skip the latte” example. The numbers vary, but it goes something like this: Assume you buy a latte every day at work for $5. If you skipped that latte and invested the $5 in an account that averages 4% return per year, you would have over $95,000 after 35 years. The example is meant to inspire you to make small changes in your spending habits to secure a glorious retirement. If you are capable of absorbing the example and using it to alter your spending habits in one fell swoop, congratulations. You don’t need to read the rest of this article. But I wasn’t able to do it so easily. And I couldn’t figure out why $95,000 was not sufficient motivation to get me to make such little changes until I realized buying coffee isn’t a $95,000 question. It’s a $20 question. Continue reading