Do you track your net worth?

#1:  I really don’t.  Our long-term finances are kind of a mess.  We have so many different accounts with different providers.  (The paranoid part of me thinks this might be a benefit if the fascist government cracks down on dissidents– we might be able to get to Canada or another safe harbor and transfer at least a subset of our accounts before they figure out all of them… hopefully.  We’ll see.  Or hopefully this won’t actually happen.)  I do track some of our accounts on mint (but mint often double-counts things or can’t log into things, so even that number isn’t accurate) and I monthly track our savings and checking account because I need to know whether or not we’re on track for the unpaid summer.

I think I’ve calculated our entire net worth 3 times in the past 11 years.  (Back in graduate school it was easier– our networth was just our checking and saving (and DH’s student loans…) and then later a few etrade accounts).  Each time it’s come as a bit of a pleasant shock.  I think that’s what happens when you wait a long time between calculations and keep spending less than you earn.  (Markets going up has also helped.)  Knowing it is above a number has helped me loosen up on spending, so it’s probably just as well I don’t look more often (assuming it is going to keep going up… I might need to recheck in case of a major market meltdown).

#2:  I have never done so before. Well, back before retirement accounts I guess I did because there wasn’t anything to track. Retirement accounts are worth such a varying amount from month to month. Thinking about retirement account balances is stressful, so I just put money in and don’t think about it too much.

Do you track your net worth? If so, how often?

32 Responses to “Do you track your net worth?”

  1. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    I check Personal Capital, which displays net worth on its front dashboard, about once a day. It’s more out of sheer anxious habit than any other reason. If I was more reasonable about it, I’d still probably check at least once a month.

  2. becca Says:

    I don’t exactly. I check retirement balances about once a month via a spreadsheet, and mint can tell me where my cash is at. I never count property, and rarely the accounts I share with my partner.
    I’m mostly tracking the retirement accounts to see the balances go up. Pretty soon market returns will swamp my monthly, which is kind of an exciting milestone in an anticlimatic way.

  3. CG Says:

    My husband tracks ours weekly, as far as I can tell, as part of his personal finance maintenance work (checking credit card statements, balancing checkbook, etc.) and updates me when we pass some noteworthy milestone. He uses Quicken and it does it automatically for us. He’s a big personal finance geek. For us a big part of it is that our house has gained an enormous amount of value since we bought it, which is just down to luck.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Given how much property taxes go up everywhere that isn’t California I’m not even sure that’s necessarily good luck…

      • CG Says:

        Michigan. Our property taxes can’t go up very much either unless we sell the house and then they would get reset at the current state equalized value for the new owner. Part of the reason we have failing schools, crumbling roads, and unsafe drinking water.

  4. SP Says:

    Yes, monthly. If the economy was going the other direction, I might take a break if it was stressing me out. (At this stage, I think/hope I could be emotionally removed enough not to stress out, but it is hard to say for sure.) It is a manual process for me. I’m less good about tracking my spending because it is also manual and take much longer – and I also think it matters a bit less to me.

    I like to watch us hit various (somewhat random) milestones in our net worth, or comparing asset classes. Also, it is basically the only PF stat my husband is interested in, and he is always amazed and thanks me for all my diligent savings work over the years. He obviously had a big part of it, but his role is less in planning and more in just never caring about buying anything. :)

    For #2, why is thinking about retirement account balances stressful? For the past many years, they mostly have been going up with a few exceptions.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I went to an econ talk several years back in which the main finding was that people look at their accounts less when the stock market is going down than when it is going up!

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        That’s interesting – was it an avoidance tactic or was it just because it’s less “exciting”? My behavior changes with volatility in my life, not the market, because I wouldn’t know what to do with most market shifts anyway other than buying when some stock I wanted already hits a price point I approved.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        he framed it as avoidance, but he didn’t really do anything to show why

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      why is thinking about retirement account balances stressful?
      Because they are not high enough to envision retiring anytime within shouting distance of now. I’m intimidated by how much SHOULD be in there and isn’t (grad school, etc.). I look in my accounts, and I think about what I need to live on each year, and I think about how many years I can reasonably expect to live, and that money doesn’t go very many years (assuming I don’t live in some shit-hole rural nowheresville).
      Healthcare is so expensive, too!

      • SP Says:

        Ah, that makes sense. I don’t think about them in great detail, but like to see them going up!

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Once a year, when I do my tax forms, I add up the balances on my retirement accounts, my savings and checking accounts, and the Zillow estimate of my house value. The only part of my net worth that is hard to check is the cash value of my defined-benefit pension plan.

  6. rose Says:

    Retired and fixed income. I know, all the time, where I am financially because I have to. I no longer generate job income so I no longer have the luxury of floating on job earned income through big negative economic times; though I certainly have tried to be in a position of being able to wait huge temporary things out without desperation. A life time of spending less than I earn, and being the sole support of children now adults, teaches habits and values that you do not give up.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s good about the habits and values! I worry about a future in which most people’s fixed income is just social security, and SS has been cut. Hopefully people will be able to work longer, but for those who can’t…

      • becca Says:

        Apparently one of the reasons the elderly tend to be conservative is that the poor die off.
        I suspect support for SS will continue to erode, because of the same phenomenon.

  7. Leigh Says:

    Monthly these days. I update the spreadsheet with the end of month numbers on the 1st every month and show my husband at some point. It takes me less than an hour to do that. It’s fun watching the milestones together! Quarterly, I write up a detailed report with charts like I used to blog. He likes reviewing that.

    I used to check more than monthly, which had no value. I don’t think I would ever switch to quarterly since every month is pretty unique in what happens. Now I ignore the net worth most of the month and just watch the cash flow throughout the month, which is much healthier.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    Our “net worth” is almost entirely in retirement accounts, although within 12 months (8 or fewer if I can manage it) we will own our property free and clear. That is “worth” approx. $48K, which is chicken feed in California, and we might never be able to sell it *or* build on it, so it’s more like “pitch a tent here if apocalypse” insurance.

    I check my retirement accounts roughly once per quarter. It’s not a heart-warming number (though a pleasing multiple of the national savings average) but it’s somewhat reassuring, in view of #TrashFire2018.

  9. Candi @ minhus Says:

    I do, 1-2 times per year. I find the long-term growth motivating, at least so far because it continues to trend up. Since I paid off my mortgage and am trying to keep less in savings (I had been keeping way too much in low-interest accounts) it helps to see the overall picture. The only property I include is my house, valued on the low side.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Congratulations on the mortgage! We’re keeping more in savings now that the mortgage is paid off– our expenses are a lot more variable now, mainly because we’re not paying as close attention to them now that both mortgage and daycare are gone as monthly expenses. Plus I’m bad about saving strategically for annual expenses like property taxes and insurance, so I basically save it all in the account and pay it when it is due and refill it as soon as possible even though I could theoretically time that better.

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Every month! And sometimes twice a month when I can’t resist plugging in a couple of numbers … I just like playing with my spreadsheet and making sure that the choices we’re making are really adding up to progress and not just a waste of time.

    That said, I am aware I have a propensity for spending time daydreaming in spreadsheets, developed when we were deep in house buying/reno/selling and I needed to be positive every bill was paid and that I knew where every penny was, so I try to avoid opening up the net worth portion of the spreadsheet more than twice a month. Tracking is fun, but I can’t let the obsessive part of my nature turn it into a timesink.

  11. First Gen American Says:

    I probably average about once every 5 years to do a deep dive on all the accounts including pensions, home equity, etc, its usually when I know I should rebalance or just check in because I have some looming financial goal ahead. Most of our cash is tied up in 401k, but our home equity has grown a lot in part because we’ve been pouring money into fixing our place.

    When I used to check my accounts monthly, there was too much variability in the stock market month to month to see growth and it was a little depressing to see all my contributions that month get wiped out in a day with a stock downturn. It was more healthy for me to only look every 6 months to a year. I distinctly remember getting to $10,000 in my 401k, then $50k, then $100k. But after that, i don’t remember any real biggies because of job changes and my money ending up in a bunch of different places. It was harder to see a grand total in one place.

    Time has also been scarce. I used to have more time to allocate to number crunching. I am sure it will ramp up again when kids are in college as that’s also the time we want to start working less.

    • becca Says:

      How do you evaluate your home equity based on renovations? I have some realtor friends or could get my place appraised, but it’s just really hard to get a feel for and I don’t want to over value it.

      • First Gen American Says:

        My house wasn’t habitable when we bought it. Essentially we we paid for the land value plus $100k for the House that’s on it. I am just assuming we will get back what we put in to this place as homes around me are much much more expensive. The guy next door just built a house over $1MM and has an elevator.

        The last town we lived though, it was possible to over spend on renovations and never get the money back out. It is very dependent on the neighborhood you’re in.

  12. Xin Says:

    I do track and see the updates almost every day, but mainly because YNAB and Personal Capital both have that feature. (I find the PC tracking a little bit annoying though, because not every transaction posts and/or is tracked at the same time, and I now have a few accounts that I can’t link to PC and have to do manually.) I generally don’t get stressed out about the fluctuations, at least not at this time, maybe I’d feel differently if the market was doing poorly. I don’t think there’s much purpose to my checking in so frequently.

  13. Debbie M Says:

    Monthly. Not sure why, anymore. I used to have goals like have enough retirement savings that my house value was only 1/3 of my net worth. Even after I paid off my house, I still have not been able to catch up, even when I was maxing out my Roth IRA and investing extra. (Currently, my house value is more than half my net worth.)

  14. eemusings Says:

    I do, monthly! I find it motivating since having a mortgage, and also with my current job which has awesome employer contributions so the growth is always healthy (when we hit a downturn I may dial it back…)

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