There are only two things that really matter when it comes to worth – self-worth and net worth.
How you feel about yourself and the value you place on your time are indicators of self-worth.
Remember the time you finally stood up for yourself at work and demanded credit for the projects you completed? Or how about the night you dumped the jerk who rarely returned your calls yet always expected you to be available? Those were times you knew you deserved more. You knew your self-worth.
But what about the day you decided to become a Lyft driver on weeknights to avoid taking on more debt? Or the nights you attempted to cook Pad Thai at home instead of having yet another night of takeout?
Those choices were in service of your net worth.
Feeling confident and killing it in all aspects of your life is directly correlated to your understanding of money. And in many ways, your net worth can be a useful way to gauge where you stand on your financial journey.
Unfortunately, 73% of millennials don’t know their net worth. So here’s the breakdown of what you need to know to calculate yours…
Your assets include money in the bank, investments and the current value of any big ticket items you own, like a car or house. (Sadly, your handbag collection probably doesn’t count.)
Your debt is any money that you owe — student loans, car payments, credit card debt, mortgages, etc.
Having a visual snapshot of where you stand financially at any given moment can be a powerful in the moment gut check when asking yourself questions like ‘Can I afford it?’ or ‘Is this purchase going to bringing me closer to or push me further from my goals?’
When I first calculated my net worth, I looked at the number and had one question, “How do I compare?”
Depending on who you ask, your net worth at age 30 “should” range from $3,000 to $150,000+.
If you just read that sentence and scratched your head, you’re not alone. $3k-150k is no small range. And whether the “experts” realize it or not, millennial net worth is different from that of previous generations.
Fourteen years ago, the Class of 2003 had an average of $18,271 in student loans. For the class of 2016, that average has skyrocketed to $37,172.
In the last fourteen years, the average student loan debt has risen by nearly $19,000.
Meanwhile, average earnings are in decline.
In 1970, 92% of U.S. 30-year-olds earned more than their parents earned at age 30. Today, that number is just ~50%, adjusted for inflation.
In other words, the financial landscape has completely changed. Making it hard to compare the average millennial net worth with the average baby boomer net worth at the same age. Today’s young people often need to pick up a side hustle to afford their rent, and their college degree no longer guarantees a full-time job with benefits. The struggle is real.
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Here are a few to get you started…
Even though it might be scary to look, it’s important to know exactly how much you owe.
Create time to sit down and look at all of your accounts.
Once you know the numbers, create a plan to pay it off. Your plan might involve extra payments towards your loans, refinancing your balance, taking on an extra job or even income-based repayment for student loans.
The most important thing is that you know the numbers and are ready to kick ass. You’ve got this!
Finding extra money in your budget can be hard, but not having the money when you absolutely need it is even harder.
An emergency fund that is three to six months of your living expenses is ideal. If that number isn’t doable, start smaller. $500-1,000 is an excellent starter buffer against emergencies.
If there is one thing that millennials have that other generations don’t, it’s time.
Regardless of whether you’re more comfortable with robo-investing, a traditional portfolio manager or index funds, the most important thing is that you start investing your money NOW. Compound interest is your best friend.
If you don’t have a purpose for your money, it can feel meaningless—just numbers that enter and leave your account.
To avoid the pitfall of apathy, give your money a purpose. Whether it’s a downpayment to buy an apartment or a trip around the world, determine the purpose before you start to save.
When you’re working towards your dreams, money is no longer boring.
Sometimes it’s not about saving more; it’s about earning more. Whether it’s through promotions at work or hustles on the side, earning more money can change everything.
Wherever you fall on the net worth scale, remember this: all that matters is what you do NOW.
Even if you’ve never invested a penny, or even opened up a savings account, you can reach your net worth goals.
Don’t throw in the towel because of where you land on a chart. You have the ability to re-write that chart, and to re-write your own financial story.
And you’ll probably find that as your net worth grows, so does your self worth.