If I’m committing a cardinal sin in the personal finance blogosphere, let me beg for your forgiveness right now. And please don’t kick me out; I’m really excited about going to FinCon, the conference for financial bloggers, in September. So let’s agree to excommunicate me after, okay?
Seriously, I have to be honest with you and admit that I don’t know what my net worth is. In fact, get ready for a really honest post because I’ve even got some reasons why I don’t know what it is.. and why I don’t care, either.
(Oops, I just gave away reason number one that I don’t know!)
I can’t join the many financial writers who keep a close eye on their net worth, update it monthly, and share it with readers. Here’s why:
1. I Don’t Care About My Net Worth
Honestly, I just do. not. care. what my net worth is at this point in time. Just like someone trying to find real, lasting good health isn’t worried about what the numbers on the scale say as long as their eating healthy, exercising, and feelin’ good, I’m not worried about the value of my nest egg because I know I’m working hard to make more money, save more money, and live happily on less.
Over time, the details will sort themselves out. I can rest easy knowing this because I understand I’m on the right path to financial freedom.
Another, possibly even more important reason I don’t care? Because my net worth can’t tell me anything about myself as a person. Same goes for you.
2. Do You Care?
Not to knock other bloggers who do share their financial details, but I can’t imagine too many people care what my finances look like. At least, they’re not interested in knowing because it will give them the warm fuzzies knowing where I’m at with my money.
Depending on what mood I’m in, I’ll browse through the monthly posts that are titled “my net worth update” or something similar. Some days I want to check out what someone else’s net worth is. Admittedly I’m usually more curious to check out income updates or savings fund milestones.
But no matter why I decided to click on these posts on any particular day, they never leave me feeling good. Sometimes I’m left feeling negatively about myself and start questioning what I’m doing wrong. I wonder why I don’t have that much money in the bank. I get panicky, wondering if I’m behind and if I am, what I’m going to do about it.
Never mind that I have absolutely no knowledge of everyone’s situation beyond what they choose to share with me. I may know specific numbers, but I don’t know anything about the intangibles: how hard does this person work? How long have they been busting their tail to build a successful career or business? How many sacrifices have they made to get to this point?
The truth is, it’s hard to remember, in the moment, that we’re all at different points in our financial journeys. Many of us have similar goals, similar means, and similar amounts of knowledge — but when you look at our community as a whole, there are more people I have nothing in common with than people I closely relate to.
And I think that’s an awesome thing, but it means that comparison is pointless. There’s nothing I can learn about myself by keeping a close eye on what so-and-so’s net worth or income looked like this month. I need to focus on my own journey, and that means not being sad I’m not saving or making as much as someone else — and it also means not feeling smug that I’m the one making or saving more.
3. It Doesn’t Matter
As I mentioned, I don’t know because it really doesn’t matter. I’m in the money game for the long haul, baby — and at 24, I’m too young to worry about what my investments are doing on a daily or even monthly basis.
That money is being stuffed away for a time that is decades down the road. Might as well just enjoy the ride to that point, rather than stressing myself out over what number posts as my net worth from month to month. All I need to do is keep up with my monthly contributions, and we’ll get there in a few years.
I’m much better served putting my focus and energy on figuring out how I can make and save more money, rather than giving my attention to my net worth at this moment.
That being said, it will start to matter as more time goes on. In fact, every year it matters a little more than it did the year before. Every year I’m one year closer to actually needing to live off all this moolah I’m squirreling away. So even though I’m explaining my 5 reasons why I don’t know my net worth to you today, there is a future post out there with my name on it, and it’s titled, “5 Reasons Why I Know Precisely How Much at which My Net Worth Is Valued.”
4. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That
I barely have enough time to dress myself every day, much less sit down and gather up all my documents and painstakingly track the value of every account with my name on it.
No, I’m not lazy. I think I just spend all my energy keeping track of my monthly budget, both with my personal finances and my business finances, with that kind of crazy detail. I can tell you down to the last cent how much I’ve paid in taxes, how much I’ll owe in taxes, what my gross revenue is, what my expenses have been up to this point, what I’ve contributed to investment accounts, and the amount of net profit I’m left with. I update this spiff daily.
And I can tell you exactly what client paid how much, when, and who still owes me money at any given day throughout the month.
I don’t say that to brag. (Most people look at me like a crazy person once they see my plethora of spreadsheets that record everything. Everything.) Just to explain that after doing that, I have zero interest or time to go back and do it all again with another set of numbers every month to see what my net worth is.
5. I Have a Different Message to Convey
I’m still finding my voice as a writer and, hopefully, a kind of role model or coach for others. I think that’s something I’ll always be working on — finding my voice and conveying my message in the clearest way possible so that it reaches those who need to hear it the most.
But I do know that the exact number that would pop up if I calculated my net worth has nothing to do with my message.
Because my message is that it doesn’t matter where you’re at now. If you’re like me and like most other Millennials, you’ve fought to get to the point you’re at today. Even if you’re behind where everyone says your net worth should be at this point — if you’re in debt, if you haven’t started saving, if you don’t have a friggin’ clue where to start — if you’ve made it here, good job!
Celebrate that victory, and don’t let your net worth drag you down or make you feel somehow less than what you are. Remember, your net worth can’t define you as a person with amazing abilities to do incredible things with their finances. And that’s what I want to focus on.
I don’t want you to worry about what you don’t have. I want to figure out how we can get you to where you want to be. And, yeah, we do need to have a sense of where we are before we know where that “want to be” place is. But I guarantee if you’re interested in doing more with your money, you probably already have a sense of what your net worth is. That’s really all you need.
Because if you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s time to go to work my friend. Your spreadsheets don’t matter. How much you can boost your earnings, so you can boost your savings… now that’s what matters.
So let’s get out there, hustle, and get to work together — after agree to meet back here in, oh, say 20 years when we can start diving Scrooge McDuck-style into the wealth we built.