How do I calculate my net worth?

by Patty Gallagher

Do you know how much money you would amass if you paid off all of your debts and sold all of your assets?

That number is referred to as your net worth. While we would all like our net worth numbers to be near those of Warren Buffet ($65.1 billion) and Bill Gates ($79.1 billion), the truth is there is no “magic” number we for which we should strive. Rather, we should aim for a year-over-year improvement upon that number.

Believe it or not, calculating your net worth is relatively easy. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. You will first want to put together a list of all of your assets. This will include things like your checking and savings account balances, the value of your stocks and bond holdings, any property you might own and expensive items like cars, jewelry, boats and valuable art. You can include whatever else you want into that mix, but for all intents and purposes, that list should likely suffice. (In other words, you might not want to include your DVD collection or that old guitar into this calculation.)
  2. Now it is time to figure out how many liabilities you have. Liabilities include any debts you have incurred such as: student loans, mortgages, credit card balances and car loans. Gather all of those numbers in one place and add them up.
  3. Now it’s time to subtract your liabilities from your assets. That difference is your net worth. No matter what the number is—positive, negative or zero—you should simply focus on improving it every year.

Be aware, that it’s not that uncommon to have zero net worth , as some estimates indicate as many as half of the country has zero net worth, meaning their assets equal their debts.

You might even have a negative net worth. After all, you might have just bought a new house and have a large mortgage or may have just graduated college or graduate school and are still carrying hefty student loans. Neither of those scenarios are necessarily bad things. The good news is that improving your net worth doable. Every time you chisel away at your liabilities, your net worth goes up. Similarly, every time you pad your assets, your net worth increases.

Facts About Current American Net Worth

Every quarter, the Federal Reserve calculates the net worth of American households. Most recently, the banking institution pegged that number at $81.764 trillion—the highest it’s ever been. Following the first quarter of 2009, collective American net worth stood at $55.71 trillion, meaning the number has increased by almost 50 percent in just five short years.

There are roughly 115 million households in the United States, which means that on a per household basis, Americans have $301,000 in assets and are free and clear of debt, according to CNN. Of course, those at the top of the proverbial financial food chain skew those numbers. In fact, America’s median net worth is $45,000. So while the country ranks fourth in the world in terms of average net worth, it ranks 19th in the world in terms of median net worth.

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