A Cash Fasting Reveal: My Net Worth

Prior to this summer, when I paid off my student debt, I didn’t think about my net worth. Why? I’ve been using Mint as a budget calculator for over four years, and the site couldn’t account for my loan balance because I owed my parents, not the bank. However, now that I’m done with debt, things have changed.

Why am I sharing my net worth?

I debated this for quite a while. Part of me doesn’t agree with being too open about my finances, for security purposes. The other part of me wants to be transparent about what I’ve been able to achieve with ~3 years in the workforce. This is my compromise:

My retirement accounts make up 84% of my total net worth (sum across all 401K and IRA accounts). My Roth IRA is the largest account because it includes rollover funds from my previous employer; I contributed almost entirely on a post-tax basis while I was there because I lived at home and had low living expenses. My current employer does not have a Roth 401K plan; I’m limited to contributing on a pre-tax basis only. Still, with almost two years at my current job, my 401K has grown to a sizable share of my total net worth.

I opened a personal investment account at the end of 2016, as part of my financial goals for 2017. I’m happy to see that it now makes up 12% of my net worth; the account has almost reached $10K in value which is fantastic for me.

To calculate my cash assets, I took the value of my checking account and subtracted my total credit card balance. I have multiple savings accounts that I set aside for different goals, but the overall balance is low, thanks to a huge two-week trip to China that I just got back from.

Many of you might have more categories than me. I have no outstanding debt, nor do I own any property, so calculating my net worth is extremely straight-forward.

What is my total net worth?

$81,963.36

As of November 2017, my net worth is $82K. In a typical month, when I’m not Christmas shopping or going on vacation, this number increases ~2-3K. In my first two years working, net worth spot checks weren’t as exciting. I was making less, and my retirement account was brand new. Now that I’m nearing a six-figure number, I monitor my net worth far more closely. My prediction? I’ll reach $100K around next June, maybe slightly earlier if the markets hold up and I don’t frolic off to any more countries.

How do I stack up against other people my age?

I know I have more saved than the average college graduate three years into their career. Do I think my number is unreasonably high? Not at all. The average student loan debt in 2014 when I graduated was $33K, (I had $35K). I easily saved thousands by not having to pay interest on my loan, but I would’ve paid it off just as aggressively regardless.

Having the vast majority of my net worth in retirement savings isn’t surprising to me. Workplace retirement programs are, in my opinion, the most effective way to help recent grads save money.

This infographic looks specifically at retirement savings, but I find it incredibly useful. How do you stack up?

Compared to other bloggers; mainly the Rockstar Finance Net Worth Tracker Directory, $82K puts me in the 300s (bottom 30%) across all personal finance bloggers who publicly share their net worth. Compared to bloggers in their 20s who share their net worth, I’m 63rd out of 121 (smack dab in the middle). It’s not the most realistic sample to measure up against, but it’s still informational.

What are my net worth goals?

Other than making the number as big as possible (duh), my main focus is on the distribution across accounts. In the next 5-10 years, I want to add some property (real estate, not a car) as a category. While I expect to max out retirement contributions every year from here on out, I want the overall share of retirement funds to go down, meaning the share of savings and personal investments, as well as any other new categories, needs to go up.

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Knowing your net worth is a great snapshot of your finances (as is your savings rate), but a single number doesn’t dictate your financial health. Over time, charting your net worth shows your trajectory towards financial independence (or whatever your financial goal may be). From there, tweaking the different levers that affect your net worth (income, debt, expenses, investments, etc.) can help you get a sense of what’s achievable given your situation.

Pro tip: use others as a benchmark if it’s helpful, but only compete against your past self and your historical rate of growth. Otherwise, pursuing an increased net worth gets incredibly demoralizing.

Comments

    1. Author

      Thanks, Erin 😊
      I credit the blogging community for being so accepting – I wouldn’t have had the guts to share my net worth otherwise.

  1. This is awesome! Keep it up! $82K three years out from college is very impressive and takes some real effort and commitment to achieve.

    1. Author

      Thanks 🙂
      I was lucky enough to have a father who stressed starting my 401K account ASAP. He even offered to delay student debt paybacks if I needed in order to put more in my retirement funds (I didn’t need the offer, but even just knowing that was on the table made me more focused). From here on out, I feel that my net worth rate of growth is only going to increase. I’m tired of watching it grow 1K at a time… looking forward to bigger increases!

  2. This is such a wonderful post and an inspiration to anyone, especially those that are at the same place in their lives. Dr. SoS was not sure how much she would care about calculating our net worth, but it is now her favorite time each month. As for sharing it with the world, it was one of the main reasons I became a blogger. Seeing the net worth of others inspired me to do the same and to begin tracking how we are doing financially to hopefully inspire others. Thank you for taking the leap and I look forward to seeing you to $100K and then to $1M and beyond! Keep up the great work!

    1. Author

      Now that I’ve done it once, I want to do it again and again, but I also want the next update I share to be a big increase haha. I do find that these types of posts can be motivating. Everyone can be successful in their personal finances goals, and it’s good to have all different types of bloggers showcase what that can look like. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Impressive savings and well thought-out financial goals! I am a big fan of your intention to add real estate to your asset mix. It could also help rebalance your portfolio if you tap into your IRA $$$ without a withdrawal penalty as a first time homebuyer. Another great tool for purchasing real estate is taking a loan against your 401k, where you are paying the loan with interest back to yourself. You are a young and dedicated saver, and a solid earner, so you don’t need so much $$$ tied up in your retirement accounts while owning no real estate. Either way, you are doing great on the path to financial freedom!

    1. Author

      I’d consider withdrawing some money out of an IRA, but I have no plans on taking out a loan against my 401K. Since I’m already maxing out retirement contributions, over the next few years I plan on increasing investments – that’s what I’ll tap into for down payment needs. I love seeing my retirement accounts grow too much to take anything out, haha.

      1. In 2005, I borrowed $30,000 from my 401k to put a down payment on a $128,000 town home. In 2011, I bought a new single-family home and decided to rent out my town home. It took me six months to find a good renter. I rented it for several years and then decided to sell it because I had too much going on in my life to deal with renters. I sold it for $103,000. I agree and would not recommend borrowing from your 401k. Care to guess what that original $30,000 would be worth if I had not touched it? I just checked and it would be worth over $205,000. Not only did I end up having to sell the house at a loss of $25,000, but I I lost out on additional $175,000 of growth in my retirement account. Every circumstance is different, but from my personal experience borrowing against my 401k was detrimental to my wealth.

        1. I am sorry for your real estate misfortune. I had an opposite experience of borrowing $50,000 from my 401k to purchase a home for $260,000 and then put about $20,00 of rehab into it. One year later it appraised at $439,000. I believe the loan against the 401k has an interest rate of around 4% and the principal and interest is going right back into my 401k. No other investments in my 401k earned even close to a 30% return for that year. The property cashflows as a rental, earning extra income and provides tax relief in the form of depreciation. One of my better investments to date. Real estate, like all investments, can be risky, and the timing and location of any investment is always important to the outcome.

  4. Paying off $35k in debt plus that much savings in your 20s is already crazy. I ran some recent stats and the FI community seems to be in the top 5-10% of money-people in most things financial – and that chart seems to confirm it based on the Rockstar Finance list. At least being smack in the middle of it is still being well ahead of the curve!

    1. Author

      There’s an interesting chart from the Credit Suisse 2017 Global Wealth Report (page 21). Assuming I cross over into the the 100K net worth range next year, I’ll already be top 10% of wealthiest adults in the world. We spend a lot of time discussing how to save money, grow wealth, and become financially independent, but the truth is we’re already rockstars (and very fortunate).

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