I’ve never been successful at New Year’s Resolutions. Just never yet kept one. But I have a decades long record of calculating our net worth every January 1st. I get the current balance of every bank account/investment/CD/whatever – and the same for every credit card/loan/mortgage/etc. I count the cash in wallets and the ‘just in case’ hoard we keep tucked away. I get an estimate of the value of our house from my neighbor (she’s a realtor) and look the cars up. (Don’t assign any value to the furniture and clothes and such – really, unless you have antiques or something, they’re worth nothing.) Add and subtract and boil it all down to a single dollar and cents number.
The first year I did this it was very depressing.
We were not long out of college, had crappy jobs, and I had gone through a medium-level medical emergency with medical insurance barely worth the name, and had lousy financial habits when it came to spending impulsively. I didn’t like the negative number (WAY negative) I ended up with at all, but it served as a really needed wake up call.
Anyway, I’ve done that every January first ever since. Mostly we are cheered by improvements, though not always. (Damn the current market.) Man, we celebrated madly the year we first went positive!!
One thing that amuses me is how I still count and include even utterly insignificant ‘assets’ though they really don’t matter. For example, I include the value of postage stamps. No, not a collection, just the booklet or so I keep on hand. The various unspent-yet balances on gift cards. Oh, and I found a single gold coin in a huge jar of mixed change I ‘inherited’ when I cleaned out a deceased relative’s place. I added it to my list of assets in 2004…and I’ve listed it every year since.
Does anyone else do this type of annual tracking of their financial position?