How We are Growing Our Net Worth – January 2018

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How Did We Grow Our Net Worth to $618,110 in January 2018?One of my favorite things about personal finance (besides investing in dividend stocks) is calculating our net worth. We have been tracking our net worth and posting updates here on The Money Sprout for almost 3 years now.

During that time, we have only seen our net worth drop one time. How crazy awesome is that?

Looking at our net worth history (and the stock market) … it should be no surprise that we are reporting another big jump in January. We were able to grow our net worth by a little over 2% in January compared to December. And not all of that growth was from the stock market.

Based on this most recent net worth increase, we have continued our streak of positive increases every month since January 2017.

For the 13th consecutive month (starting in January of 2017) … we have grown our net worth.

What’s even cooler is that since our first report back in March 2015, we have grown our net worth by 42%!

That is an increase of over $183,000 in just 2.8 years. It is an awesome feeling knowing we are growing our net worth by thousands and thousands of dollars every single month (and year)!

Since first reporting our net worth almost 3 years ago … we have seen our assets really grow, while at the same time most of our liabilities decrease.

When you are building wealth and growing your net worth … that is exactly what you want to see. Grow your investments (i.e. assets) while lowering your expenses (i.e. liabilities).

If you can continue widening that gap (difference between liabilities and assets), there is more money leftover to buy assets and less money to pay for liabilities.

Now on to our latest monthly net worth update.

How We Track Our Net Worth

Before we move on to reviewing our latest net worth numbers, I wanted to point out that we are using our Personal Capital account to do most of the work.

We are tracking our net worth through this free account. This tool has made it possible for us to easily track our net worth at a moments notice.

Personal Capital

I highly recommend checking out Personal Capital and setting up a free account. It is the best tool available to help track your net worth and can even help with your spending.

So how did we do this January?

January 2018 Net Worth

As of January 31st, 2018 – our net worth is $618,110!

In past years, we didn’t want to post net worth updates every month. Instead we opted for posting updates every quarter or so. Since there are so many moving parts to calculating ones net worth, it seemed pointless at the time to go through the exercise every month.

But priorities change … and now we plan to provide an update every month. We started providing monthly updates at the start of 2017 and plan to continue for some time.

So why did we change our mind? Our focus is now on saving a lot more of our income each month in order to invest it. And by reviewing our net worth once a month, I feel that it will help us stay motivated with our goal to save (and invest) more.

Here is our most recent update, compared to our last net worth post in December.

Our net worth in January 2018 increased by a modest 2.03% compared to December (2017). This is on top of the 2.35% increase we saw between November and December.

December 2017 Net Worth = $605,832
January 2018 Net Worth = $618,110

Net Worth Change = +$12,278

A high level breakdown of our assets and liabilities are detailed below.

Assets

We report our net worth with 3 main asset categories that include – investments, cash, and home value. We don’t like to report our automobiles as an asset, so those are only included as liabilities. If we really wanted to get detailed, I should probably start thinking about adding these assets in the future.

Investments

This category includes our dividend income portfolio, 529 plans for the kids, 457 account, emergency fund accounts, retirement accounts, etc.

It is currently and likely will always be our highest valued asset. There isn’t a day that passes that we are not working to make this asset grow.

Once again, this past month saw another big increase in the stock market … which gave our investments an incredible boost. So the majority of the growth from our investments came from the bull market.

However, we have been quietly building up a new 457b plan from my employer each month. In less than 3 months, we have added almost $2,400 in assets to this account. In addition, we continue to buy individual stocks in our taxable accounts and earn dividend income each month.

The collection of these sources help to grow our investment balance each month.

December 2017 Investments = $463,768
January 2018 Investments = $482,889

Investment Change = +$19,121

The value of our investments increased by an incredible 4.12% last month!

Overall, the health of our portfolio continues to look strong as we have built a solid cash flow machine … that grows and grows each month!

Cash

Our current cash includes all of our checking and savings accounts. We don’t usually carry a high cash balance and like to move it into the stock market to purchase income producing assets. However, it is also important to have some cash on hand in order to cover unexpected expenses.

December 2017 – Cash = $9,876
January 2018 – Cash = $2,376

Cash Change = ($7,500)

Whoa … what the heck happened with a drop of $7,500 in our cash balance? We need to payoff several larger bills that all came due towards the end of last year and early this year.

The two biggest expenses included our property taxes ($3,800) and braces for our middle son ($6,600).

We had the option of paying for his braces over 30 months … but opted to save 5% and pay the balance upfront. Since we have a substantial emergency fund, we decided to give ourselves a loan and save a little money. So we slowly will be paying ourselves back now. Not only did we save 5% by prepaying his braces, we were able to charge the entire bill to a credit card and earn some awesome free travel!

Other than that, we had a lot of holiday related expenses and a Disney trip to pay for. I am looking forward to our expenses slowing down a bit here this spring.

Home Value

I have never been a big fan of reporting on our home value in our net worth. Many personal finance blogger’s don’t report their home value. I have gone back and forth on it.

But in the end, it is one of our largest assets so I think we need to include it … but I still don’t consider our home an investment.

We are currently using the Zillow estimate on our home, which is calculated directly through Personal Capital. This asset will likely see a bunch of ups and downs each time I report our net worth.

December 2017 – Home Value (est) = $342,205
January 2018 – Home Value (est) = $339,943

Home Value Change = ($2,262)

Kinda funny actually … our home value in January dropped back to exactly what it was in November. No big deal here. I just like to have a rough estimate of what our home could be worth.

Total Assets

Only 1 of our asset categories saw an increase last month … but it was enough to pull the other 2 way up.

Of course, investments increased by over 4% because of the market, but our cash dropped by over $7,000. And our home value dropped by another couple thousand dollars.

Total assets rose by 1.15% since last reporting.

December 2017 – Total Assets – $815,849
January 2018 – Total Assets – $825,208

Total Asset Change = +$9,359

Liabilities

There are 3 main liability categories that we will report on. The first and largest is our mortgage balance. Then we have our credit card balances … which is how we pay for almost every purchase we make.

The last category is our car loan(s). We are working to pay extra on one of our vehicles and hope to have it paid off by the end of 2018.

Mortgage Balance

One month at a time … we are working to pay down our mortgage debt. Fortunately, we have a reasonable mortgage rate and a monthly payment that doesn’t completely hold us down.

We have a 30 year mortgage on our home with a rate of 4.375%. That isn’t too bad of a rate, so we don’t normally pay any extra on the mortgage.

December 2017 – Mortgage Balance – ($178,746)
January 2018 – Mortgage Balance – ($178,320)

Mortgage Balance Change = +$426

Just a normal month of paying our mortgage. It helped dropped the principle on the loan by over $400.

Car Loan(s)

At the start of last year (January 2017), we took on a lot more debt after buying a second car … which I will refer to as “car loan #2”. My 16+ year old vehicle finally died, so I needed reliable transportation.

The good news is that we were able to purchase a new vehicle that gets over 35 mpg with a 0% financed loan. The bad news is that we took on $17,000+ in debt and a second car payment.

As far as our other “family car”, we have a very low rate and are on year #6 of the loan. We refer to this as “car loan #1”.

Since our rate on this vehicle is 1.56%, we haven’t paid too much extra on it … up until the past couple of months. We are anxious to get this loan paid off now that we have a second car payment. So for a couple of months, we have been adding extra money to help pay down our principal.

I have new goal to have our Car Loan #1 paid off by December, 2018. That will take a $500 per month payment. With such a low interest rate … this may not make much sense. But psychologically … getting this loan paid off will do a world of good right now.

December 2017 – Car Loan #1 – ($5,265)
January 2018 – Car Loan #1 – ($4,771)

December 2017 – Car Loan #2 – ($15,004)
January 2018 – Car Loan #2 – ($14,512)

Car Loan(s) Change = +$986

Credit Card Balance

Normally, our credit card spending is the biggest area for improvement when it comes to debt.

Recently, we paid for several large expenses using our credit cards … in order to earn rewards for free travel. We paid for a bunch of Christmas spending, Disney tickets and trip, property taxes, braces for our middle son, furnace repair, and more.

The good news is that we are not letting these payments slip past their due date … so we won’t pay any interest or fee’s.

Note – We have always paid our balance off every month on our credit cards.

December 2017 – Credit Card Balance(s) = ($11,002)
January 2018 – Credit Card Balance(s) = ($9,495)

Credit Card Balance Change = $1,507

Our credit card balances fluctuate a lot month to month. However, this past month we knocked off about $1,500 and that will continue to drop over the next month or two.

Note – The balances shown above are at a point in time and don’t reflect the amount we spend in a month.

Just an FYI – normally we don’t let our credit card spending get this high … but we just had all those large expenses due at once.

But on the bright side, we are finishing up our 4th travel rewards card and just signed up for cards #5 & #6 this week.

Check out our Travel Rewards page for up-to-date information on our pursuit for FREE Travel.

Total Liabilities

Since last reporting, our mortgage balance dropped a little – as expected. We also saw a nice drop in our car loan debt.

Our credit card balances also dropped by about $1,500. These balances should really drop moving into February and March as we pay them off.

Collectively our total liabilities decreased by almost $3,000. That decrease is just as good as growing our assets by the same amount!

Remember … growing your net worth is not just about increasing your assets. It is just as important to lower your liabilities at the same time.

The larger the gap is between your total assets and total liabilities is the key to financial independence and something my family is working towards.

December 2017 – Total Liabilities – ($210,017)
January 2018 – Total Liabilities – ($207,098)

Total Liabilities Change = +$2,919

Net Worth Summary

As promised … we plan to keep these net worth posts updated every month now. Not only does it keep us accountable in how we save, earn, and invest … it is great motivation when you see growth like we have.

After reviewing our net worth number for January, most of our gains came from our investments. It has been a crazy market and it is hard to complain about the growth. But it also makes it difficult investing a lot of new money all at once … at least psychologically.

Our net worth also grew because we were able to lower our liabilities. We continue to pay off part of our mortgage every month with our monthly payments. And we have been paying extra on car loan #1. We only have 11 months to go until that vehicle is paid off! Our second loan is at 0% financing, so we are not rushing to pay that one off just yet.

Overall, it was a great way to start off the new year and we continued to have good success with growing our net worth.

Do you track your net worth? What steps are you taking to widen the gap between your assets and liabilities?

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