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Monday, November 19, 2007

Why Track Net Worth?

If you read personal finance blogs, you have most certainly noticed that some PF bloggers post their net worth every month and track the increases (or occasional decreases) in public for anyone and everyone to see.

While I'm not quite ready to put my numbers out on the internet (I applaud those who do), I have started tracking my net worth in recent months, and I find it very interesting to follow and I also find that it's kind of an additional reminder to keep saving. It's nice to see that percentage increase every month. So at the end of every month, I fill out my little spreadsheet and figure out what has happened with my net worth over the past month.

What do I track? I track more than some people do, and less than others. I don't own a home, but I do own a car. I don't track the value of my car in my net worth though. Would I track a house? I don't know. It's a hard number to pin down, and I like that my net worth is pretty exact. I track all of my bank accounts, of course. I track my stocks and mutual funds. I track my CDs, but only list the value at maturity, not the current value were I to redeem them early. I also track my Roth IRA and my 401(k). Those are all pretty standard categories. But I do track a few other things:

Cash - this keeps me honest
Laundry card - in my building, we use pre-paid cards for laundry. If I didn't track it, I know I would be waiting to reload it until after the 1st of the month
Metro Card - same deal, though my job does most of the reloading for me
Gift Certificates - I found that putting these into the spreadsheet reminded me of what I had and also will help me control spending. Instead of thinking of them as "free money," I think of them as alternatives to using the money in my bank account, and I end up saving rather than "spending" double.

I realize that some people may not agree with my additional tracking categories, but this is what works for me. I find myself getting excited at the end of the month when it's time to update. I just hope that the market does a bit more rebounding before the end of November though, or I'm definitely going to reflect a loss this month.

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