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Wealth Strategy: Track Your Net Worth

This post was originally published in early 2009, but brought to the forefront as I believe it’s one of the more important strategies for growing wealth.

For those of you who have been following my journey, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big believer in tracking and managing progress to help achieve desired goals.  I can’t believe I haven’t explicitly written about this strategy before as I’ve been publishing my net worth updates for several years now.

That is, if your aim is net worth (or any financial) growth, track and record it on a regular basis.

I started in late 2006 with a net worth of around $200,000 and it has grown over the years to approximately $960,000.  Tracking your net worth is like giving yourself a grade every month (or whatever interval you like) and helps keep your spending/savings for the month accountable.  The key is not to get down on yourself if you report a negative month, but to keep your eye on the long term trend and make adjustments along the way.

For me, just the thoughts of reporting my net worth publicly for hundreds of thousands of people to see keeps me focused on my saving, spending and investing habits.  As a result, I often think about ways to increase my income in conjunction with ways to reduce expensesthen sticking to my investment strategy.

How to Track Net Worth

To start, net worth is your (total assets) – (total liabilities).

Assets include:

  • Real estate – primary residence, rental properties.
  • Investment portfolios – RRSP/TFSA, non registered, pensions.
  • Business Value (if applicable) .
  • Cash – chequing, savings, GIC’s etc.
  • Tangible items – cars, collections etc.

Liabilities include:

  • All Debt – mortgages, line of credit, student loans, credit card etc.
  • Tax liabilities – business income taxation, large RRSPs, and/or capital gains owning.
  • Other Money Owed.

Net Worth Tracking Tools

There are many tools that you can use to track your net worth progress.  For me, I like to keep it simple so I use a spreadsheet to figure out the difference between my assets and liabilities at any particular point in time.  Here are some free tools that you can use:

Here is a free Excel based net worth spreadsheet that includes a nice looking pie chart.  This one is geared towards the US, but you can change the account labels to whatever works for you.


Net worth isn’t the end-all-be-all of financial status, but it’s a great place to start to see where you stand financially.  It’s not about what your number is relative to others, but that you are making progress in the right direction over the long haul.

Do you track your net worth on a regular basis?  At what intervals?

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FrugalTrader About the author: FrugalTrader is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 70 comments… add one }

  • Stock Investing March 24, 2009, 7:32 am

    I think this is a great tool to use. You need to know where you stand financially. Also, many banks require you to write out a financial statement of yourself to show your net worth.

    Definitely track this number.

  • Mockingbird March 27, 2009, 3:49 am

    I’ve been tracking my net worth since 1998 and I’ve been doing it semi-annually with excel.

    I agree with Kathryn, it can be great motivator for many. And also agree with Sampson – “it lets you know if you are on a reasonable path towards your goal”. As Sharlock pointed out, every business has various statements (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) and corresponding forecasts. So why not treat your personal finance as such? By observing them regularly, you can make informed business (personal finance) decisions.

    Four Pillars: I have to disagree with your comments about NOT having control over your house and investments. Of course, the house price fluctuation you cannot control, but you can always sell your house. No one is stopping you from doing that. Good example being US foreclosure mess. By keeping track of your net worth, perhaps some people might cut the loss when dropped 10% below your purchased price instead of finding out year later when dropped 50%. And you definitely should be able to minimize the fluctuation in your investment. You can always position yourself conservatively when the market volatility increases. In my net worth statement, it is more comforting to know that I’m down 5% instead of 50-60% that the market experienced recently. No one can look after your investments like you do. (At least I’ve learned something from 2001 Tech Bust…lol)

    Also, I’m not sure if I understand your $800k and $250k house example. If FT’s goal was $1 million in total net worth, then how he got there is irrelevant IMHO. Maybe he wanted to liquidate everything once he reached that goal. The crucial part is how he derived $1 million as his retirement goal. Your home can be a valuable investable asset. Many pull out HELOC for investments. The $$ discrepancies between the fixed asset (house) and liquid assets (investments) also seem irrelevant near retirement. If I need to feed myself, then I’m sure I’ll downgrade to a smaller home. Isn’t that what baby boomers are starting to do right now? Of course, you need to adjust your goal (total amount of net worth) if you want to retire in a 5000 sq ft home in West Vancouver. Why do people come to blogs like this? Isn’t increasing personal net worth the main objective?

    Lakedweller: Manulife here in Canada does offer something similar. It’s called “Manulife One”. Seems legit to me and doesn’t cost $5000 :)

  • Pete May 26, 2009, 1:00 am

    Just found this website today and find it very useful.

    I have been tracking my net worth since 1995 when it was $0.00 after just getting out of university and getting my first job paying less then 20K a year to now which is just over $600,000. Due to current real estate conditions it has gone down about 100K but I am positive on the investment.

    I was shooting to hit the Million before 40 but realistically with current conditions have reset goals for 45.

  • S Arun April 8, 2014, 10:15 am

    I started to track my net worth from last month (March 2014), am currently in $44900 net worth. My ultimate goal is to hit 1 million dollar net worth in 10 years.

  • Emilio April 8, 2014, 10:17 am

    Mint.com helps me track my networth daily.
    Every day I get to see my number.

    I can also trend over time, two years since I started.
    It has come to the point that before I open any sort of financial account I will make sure it works with mint. If it doesn’t I won’t use it.

  • J. Money April 8, 2014, 3:09 pm

    Yup, great thing to do!

    You can see how others track their worth too in the Blogger Net Worth Tracker I set up as well (shameless plug, sorry, but totally relevant and helpful! ;)):


    It’s interesting to see everyone’s interpretations of it, and how they set it up to better motivate themselves.

    If you’re a blogger and want to be added to the list, just shout! (You can compare yourself to FrugalTrader on it ;))

  • Miiockm April 9, 2014, 1:34 am

    Anyone else have a problem with the excel file? It opens for me but only after it repairs the file.

  • John Barleycorn April 9, 2014, 1:47 am

    I have been tracking all my assets and liabilities, income and expenses in Intuit Quicken for Home and Business for over 15 years. I update my account balances and stock prices daily and it calculates net worth for me, so I know my financial position every day.

  • K. Olson April 9, 2014, 2:54 pm

    I track mine continually using MS Money reports, but really only look at it quarterly, and update asset values (like house, car) yearly. Investment values and bank accounts are updated constantly. It’s very sad that Microsoft dropped this product as it really is very good and there’s no similar product out there currently that is any better.

  • The Wallet Doctor April 9, 2014, 3:32 pm

    Its so useful to track your net worth. I do so fairly often, but maybe not often enough. Its important to not let your net worth numbers totally consume you, since they may not reflect everything perfectly, but it is a really good way to check in where you are at. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  • Al April 9, 2014, 7:33 pm

    I’ve watched my household’s net worth go from -300K to +50K in 3 years – but we’ve only been tracking it steadily for about 9 months where it’s gone up by 85K. I dream of it going to 900K like yours but at this rate I’ll be 40 by that time!

  • FrugalTrader, you really got me into tracking my net worth. Twice a year I like to update my net work to see how I’m progressing. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet. It’s a good feeling to see your net worth increase every few months. My next milestone is to reach net worth of $500K before age 30. I’m well on my way!

  • S April 12, 2014, 12:26 am

    Kudos to you!

    I can’t help comparing you to a young man I know whose about to turn 32. He lives at home, has just completed his first year of participating in the labour market and now wants to quit because he’s tired. Mom cooks, cleans and buys his clothes. Dad drops him off and picks him up daily at the GO station. The parents are currently exploring investment avenues to fund his very early retirement because work is too stressful for him, poor lad.

    You’re going to reach 500k and this guy’s biggest achievement to date is being able to feed & dress himself. Wow…

  • Sampson April 12, 2014, 10:24 pm

    Wow. Some blast from the past. It is incredible how much things change in 5 years…

    blog is still going strong though.

    FT, when are you going to fess up and admit you have $1M. You keep adding new buckets to keep the number below. Soon you will impose unrealistic tax liabilities on all your investments just to stay under the bar.

    I guess this just means you just haven’t found a new name for the blog.

  • Inderpreet Kang April 13, 2014, 5:24 pm

    I use http://www.mint.com to track my net worth. Its very useful tool and there is app as well to view on mobiles

    I like the spreadsheet template mention in the topic

  • A Frugal Family's Journey April 20, 2014, 7:18 pm

    Great article, our family has been tracking our Net Worth for about 9 years, going from a negative $120K to $511K as of December 2013 (excluding the equity in our home).

    From our experience, we couldn’t agree with you more…Tracking your net worth allows our family to keep your eye on our finances and make adjustments if we need to. It tells us if we are moving forward or backwards. We’ve certainly have had negative months, but we always learn something from the bad months and therefore many good months tend to follow our bad months.

  • InvestAsian April 26, 2014, 12:03 pm

    Thanks! I’ve been tracking my net worth once every quarter. It’s a bit too time intensive to do it often and property, especially when you get to the “items of value” and collectibles part.

  • Alpha Centauri June 25, 2014, 2:44 am

    I’d recommend doing a net worth statement once a year. No need to fret over the short-term ups and down. Once a year will still give you enough of a big picture. I remember after the 2008 financial crisis, waiting for about 1.5 years do another net worth statement, as I was too disgruntled with my portfolio losses. Interestingly, my portfolio increased in value, not because my rrsp fully recouped, but because I was aggressive about making extra mortgage payments!

    Which brings me to an interesting conclusion: If you want the most mindless, risk-free way to increase net worth, then focus on debt reduction – especially debt that cannot be deducted from income taxes. This includes consumer debt and primary residence mortgage debt, for instance.

  • Steva July 3, 2014, 9:21 pm

    Nice article. We managed our family finances by tracking our net worth for more than 10 years. We started by using Excel worksheets, tried Mint as well (stopped because it couldn’t handle all of our accounts), but now we use net worth tracking software from the Blue plum software (theblueplum.com). We log our net worth at the end of each month.

  • Don Chogni October 1, 2015, 3:35 pm

    To easily track your net worth I recommend https://www.networthshare.com/ .

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