How’s everyone’s Net Worths going?!

by J. Money -

A pretty slick comeback yesterday!

But wasn’t so hot days earlier when I finally logged in to update it…

Here was a live action shot of me at the time, lol:

sweating gif

The numbers didn’t come out good, but they also weren’t TOO terrible?!

I think I always build it up WAYYYYY too much in my head that everything’s crashing and burning and I’ll log into like 50% down investments, but then whenever I actually check it’s only down a fraction of those numbers so I end up coming away pleasantly surprised…

So my over-fear basically squashes my *normal* fear and then I come out feeling okay in the end :)

Of course, none of this even really “counts” until the day you go to cash it out anyways, but it’s still pretty nerve-racking to live through despite how logical you are or aren’t.

So just a reminder that if you were a little freaked last week – or still are today – just know you’re not alone! It affects the best of us! And just repeat to yourself over and over again that YOU’RE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL!

It also might help you feel better knowing the next time you go to pick up some more funds they’ll be on quite the discount ;) So it’s not totally bad, right?!

But if you need a little more encouragement, try this idea too from my friend David Damron:

I’m thinking about including “controllable” / “uncontrollable” calculations into my monthly net worth spreadsheet – controllable being mortgage pay down, contributions, savings versus uncontrollable being market growth/fall – that way I stay motivated in down times by my actions

An excellent way to put things in perspective more! Especially if your net worth relies heavy on market swings than it does your own contributions, which of course is a good problem to have really.

So instead of just looking at that *one number* at the end of the month, try breaking it down like David suggests and see if that makes you feel any better.

Here’s how it looks if I do it for February:

Things in our control last month:

  • Spent less than we earned!
  • Put less on c/c for the month
  • Paid off more of our mortgage!
  • Maxed out my SEP IRA: $12,000
  • Created, and maxed out, my Traditional IRA: $6,000 (we made too much to contribute to a ROTH last year due to selling BAS)
  • Created, and maxed out, the Mrs’ Traditional IRA: $6,000
  • Threw extra money into our brokerage account: $5,000

(Now I’ll admit I WAS trying to time the market for the *best day* to drop in all those investments, so the second I saw the market crashing I dumped it all in thinking I was a genius, only to then watch it drop day in and day out for the entirety of the week and putting me in my place again ;) I really shouldn’t even try anymore, haha…)

Things outside of our control last month:

  • Markets implode: -$70,000
  • Storm door breaks in wind storm: (still looking for a replacement – $500?!)

Not the *best* thing to see, but a LOT better when I focus on that top half there and see all those wins compared to the big red scary numbers… We made some pretty great headway with the things we had control over, and the rest, well, was totally outside our control! And at the end of the day we can only do so much…

So maybe try this out for yourself and see if it helps calm your nerves any? You could easily just add a few extra lines to the bottom of your spreadsheet, or into an “info” tab or something for the month. Here are a few templates you can practice on too from spreadsheets we’ve made over the years:

In the meantime, just keep doing your best to stay collected! It’s scary out there, but if you believe in your PLAN there’s no need to change anything up!

Just a matter of finding ways to keep your self sane as the world around you is in complete chaos ;) It’s quite possible those Preppers might be onto something (and having a field day right now!), but for now I choose to believe in mankind and continue staying the course…

I hope you’re able to find peace in your strategy as well!

j. money signature

PS: while we don’t say it much here on this blog, or in other FIRE circles for that matter, remember that it’s also OKAY to change your plans too if you find the market turmoil is too much for you! There’s plenty of other areas to invest in outside of the stock market, but just make sure it’s TRULY a personality thing and not just cold feet :) This is the first time many of us have had to go through something like this, so if deep down you find it’s not for you, that’s totally fine! Just make sure you’re investing *somewhere* so over time you still have the magic of compounding working for you and you don’t end up doing it the hard way… It takes a while to finally nail down a strategy you’re comfortable with! But keep trying!

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josh March 3, 2020 at 5:38 am

I always do my NW updates on the 23rd of every month, and I did so in Feb. Literally the next day was the first 1000 pt. drop in the Dow. :p

I haven’t checked my accounts since. But whatever they are when I do my next update, I won’t be changing my strategy at all.

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2 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 6:52 am

Oooh interesting!! Wonder how much will change from now until the 23rd!

And why do you do it on that particular day?!

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3 Josh March 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm

It was somewhat happenstance how it occurred that way. I had started doing my NW updates back in 2013 after reading your blog for a little while. The very first one I did was on May 18th of that year. I got a pretty substantial backpay check a few days afterwards, and did my NW update again. That was on the 23rd of the month. I decided to keep going with it then, since that’s my birthday in Dec. :D

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4 J. Money March 6, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Haha…. love it.

And thanks for reading for so long! Like 1/4th of your life by now! :)

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5 whiskey March 3, 2020 at 7:26 am

I gave some serious thought to “can it get any higher”? If I sell some positions I could make some money. Greed is good…. but I did not sell. Missed opportunity….
Then I thought, “oh its dropping. Now’s the time to buy a few shares of some etf’s I’d been watching.” Strengthen my positions, add to them, capture the discount. Greed is not so good….
Ha ha ha… ughhh. Oh well. Lost a small sum on that buy.
We’ll see how the dividends fair. I suspect that some will be reduced.
Now considering topping off the Roth to hit the rise but a little hesitant as I keep thinking itll drop again. “Cant time the market” I tell myself; but its like sitting at the craps table. Just one more roll. Its the excitement of “Maybe”…
Probably what Ill do is wait till the end of the week and see how much bounce is going on and make the call then.

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6 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:38 am

Yeah, you and me both brother…

Nothing ever seems logical anymore – it’s at the whims of everyone’s emotions!

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7 Jacq March 3, 2020 at 7:48 am

In 2010 I had more in my investments than 2008, so I’m not going to worry about this dip. I looked out of curiosity late last week and just checked, Yay market yesterday for some bounce back. I’m finding it more interesting seeing the news that my former employer is working on a vaccine. At the same time, there’s a ‘oh boy they’d have me working crazy hours’ bit of relief that it’s ‘former’. I wish them all the best, and all the companies working on it for a successful vaccine.

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8 Francis March 3, 2020 at 9:02 am

I’m pretty busy as a supplier to the Biotech and Pharma industries as many of my customers are working on getting vaccines ready for clinical trials. Funding is flowing back into this sector again. Saw the pattern with the zika and eboloa virus panic a few years ago.
Today’s target is different as they have the genome sequence of the Corona virus. The gene therapy companies get target specific molecules into clinical trials within weeks. Unfortunately, the trials are the bottle neck and we won’t see a successful vaccine until after Christmas. if at all.

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9 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:40 am

Danggg – that’s scary!! I know we’re smart enough to come up with something that helps though…

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10 Francis March 3, 2020 at 8:56 am

I simplified my reporting and only do quarterly reporting of net worth, so I have not looked at the whole nut after these crazy market swings.
Cash flow gets reviewed twice a month and the monthly spend books gets closed on the last day of the month.

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11 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:40 am

The stuff you have the most control over! Not a bad idea at all to focus on.

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12 Adam March 3, 2020 at 9:22 am

I update my net worth, um, at least four days a week. Slightly neurotic, I suppose. And morbidly entertaining yesterday morning, when we were down $25k on the year after pushing $10k+ into investments since January 1. :P

I only record it for posterity on January 1 of each year. On 1/1/19 it was pretty low, so I inserted a note on that spreadsheet field: “Lower due to 18% market plunge the last two weeks of 2018; on the uptick as of January 1”. We’re all in the same boat and I’m confident enough now that by the time we retire it’ll be a significant multiple of what we’ve put in; the ups and downs along the way are fun to talk about on the internet but don’t affect us much.

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13 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:42 am

You’re definitely right on that last one, haha….

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14 Gene Roberts March 3, 2020 at 10:19 am

Net Worth was $1,048,000 – up $20k for the month, $45k year-to-date.

Would have been down about 70k last week if I hadn’t reduced my equity exposure (gradually over the past two years).

I’ve been able to maintain my (conservative) overall NW growth targets, so I will continue to rock my “scaredy-cat” portfolio until valuations come down to more reasonable levels.

Just dumped 7k into my Roth IRA to max it out for the year (2020). A big shout-out to my employee stock participation program for making that 7k only cost me 4.9k from my paycheck. Maximum investment efficiency achieved! :)

More on stock participation programs:
https://www.budgetsaresexy.com/reality-of-employee-stock-participation-plans-espp/

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15 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:43 am

Forgot about that post! Thanks for reviving it!

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16 Gene Roberts March 4, 2020 at 12:48 am

The mind-blowing part for me was when I looked back at what my net worth was in my mini-bio at the end of the post, $282k (in June 2012).

I’ve only been tracking my NW consistently since 2014. I don’t see back that far on my chart.

So I was shocked to realize my NW has, in less than 8 years, gone up by a whopping 3.7 TIMES!

I’m not saying it was all due to “Budgets are Sexy”, but that was part of the impetus to start tracking my NW regularly. I’m a big believer in “what gets measured, gets improved”.

And it’s been one HELL of a decade!

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17 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:33 am

Holy smokes man – that’s incredible!! And it’ll only keep compounding too over the years!

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18 J March 3, 2020 at 11:14 am

I did make some purchases since I was moving EJ funds into my Vanguard accounts and selling them in order to buy VOO ETFs . So long as the Buy & Sell orders took place on the same day I wasn’t concerned about the market drop. The last thing I would’ve needed was selling the expensive EJ funds on a day everything was really down only to have the buy order on V funds go through the next day when the market was swinging wildly back up. But I also did deploy some cash I had sitting in my Roth into VTSAX. The difference is I only put in smaller orders on one day, and then I waited another day or two to see if I wanted to buy more. The last few periods of volatility have only lasted 2-3 days, and I end up missing out (oh well). But this one sat around longer, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bounce. My new investments were still down a bit overall, but in another year or two I’m sure I will be sitting pretty. I’m still pretty happy with the $62 VTSAX shares that I bought in Dec 2018 when everything was going nuts.

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19 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 11:48 am

Yeah! Up to $76 currently it looks like :) I actually never even look at it when investing since I’m gonna do it anyways and you can invest by the dollar amount vs # of shares… This is probably the first time in a year I actually googled it, lol..

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20 Becky March 3, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I recently started calculating a portion of my net worth somewhat similar to what you described above. I wanted to know how much of my net worth was not held up in property values and my 401k. I have noticed that most of my net worth is in my 401k balance, so when the markets fluctuated, my net worth fluctuated, which really frustrated me, since I feel like I am otherwise making good progress on paying off debts and building up savings.

Anway, I continue to track my overall net worth, but I also have a spot on my spreadsheet that calculates my net worth, not including my home value (as well as mortgage, the $15k between the two in equity doesn’t matter if I’m not planning on selling soon) or my 401k balance. This number started out pretty negative as I started tracking it when we had just purchased a new vehicle (-13k). I’m proud to say that it’s only a year later and I am finally at a positive number!!! Onward and upward!! Slowly but surely, I will be debt free and will only have positive numbers!!

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21 J. Money March 3, 2020 at 12:20 pm

YES YOU WILL!!!!

You keep going with your bad self! :)

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22 JoeHx March 3, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Did my debt/asset report to my wife on the first (aka spreadsheet day).

Our retirement accounts dropped by $17k, almost $18k.

At this point, though, I’m used to it fluctuating more than our income.

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23 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:34 am

Your wife married well ;)

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24 Vinncent - Betering.nl March 3, 2020 at 1:40 pm

To my own surprise net worth was up a bit yesterday (€500). I guess i bought more (some extra than normal, trying to time the market just like you) than I lost. I do think we are going down another 10-15% this month. Not sure if I should invest even more extra cash in that case.

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25 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:35 am

I’ve got no advice for you since obviously I can’t figure it out for myself, lol..

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26 Moneybee March 3, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Currently writing my monthly financial update in my journal– most of my 401(k) contribution for the month was canceled out by the drop! And MOST annoyingly, my latest contribution went in on the 24th. One day later it would have been invested a lot lower, which would be nicer for the monthly numbers and in the long run. Grumble. Just my luck I guess.
I will be REALLY annoyed next month if the market causes me to miss reaching a positive net worth next month. For a milestone that low, it just wouldn’t be fair. Though I guess I’d rather go positive later and stay that way than go positive and then back to negative!

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27 Moneybee March 3, 2020 at 2:39 pm

By the way I’m glad you snuck in a dramatic ‘nickname’ for the drop. I’d been thinking about your previous labels on net worth updates and thought we were going to miss out on the nickname this time around. (MARKET SPIRAL! MARKET MELTDOWN! MARKETS IMPLODE! It makes it sound like an action movie!)

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28 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:37 am

Hahaha…

I love that out of this whole post that’s the takeaway for you :)

Congrats on almost being positive!! That’s a huge next step!!

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29 Mike S March 3, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Down about 29K for the week. But that is life. I have been expecting a recession for the last year, so this isn’t bothering me. This is not due to a recession, but the market has been going up for so long, that it is bound to come down again, then it will go back up and I’ll have even more than I did before.
I’m at the point that I don’t worry about it, just check that my allocations are where I want them to be. Since I retired at the end of last year, I have about 5 years of expenses in cash so I can ride out most any market.

If I were younger, this would be a great buying opportunity.
Just keep doing what you’ve been doing and stay the course, time is on our side.

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30 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:37 am

5 years – wow!!! That’s solid!

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31 Doug March 3, 2020 at 10:00 pm

I figure mine out quarterly but i imagined it dropped quite a bit. my dividnd stock tracker dropped $26,000 just by itself didnt check my thrift savings plan. but will at the end of next month unless the market continues to drop then i might do some rearranging and dump more in the C fund.

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32 J. Money March 4, 2020 at 6:39 am

That C fund is pretty good :) TSP options are so much better than most others out there.

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33 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life March 4, 2020 at 12:25 pm

I keep seeing “should you panic / is it time to panic” type of headlines and I’m puzzled because is it ever time to panic? No, panic never helped anyone!

I have put myself on a weekly investing schedule this year since last year’s experiment with lump sum investing told me that I decided that I’m terrible at it, and I’m sticking to it! Whatever the market does.

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34 J. Money March 6, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Good for you!!

And you’re totally right on the “panic” strategy, lol…

The media is having a field day with all this right now…

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35 Shawna March 4, 2020 at 1:04 pm

I too was surprised with how much my accounts went down, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!

I selfishly didn’t mind the market drop as it coincided with the week I deposited $6k into my Roth IRA for 2019 after finishing my taxes (I’m always a year behind in contributions because I’m nearing/in that phase out AGI range so I don’t want to risk anything. I need to figure out a backdoor IRA but it makes my head hurt so this is my compromise for now until I fully phase out haha) so I was able to buy things on sale! Woo woo!

But then again, I’m 30 and have many years ahead of me.

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36 J. Money March 6, 2020 at 2:57 pm

I hear ya on the phase out thing! Messed that one up a couple years ago myself maxing it out too early and was quite the pain to fix…. Though a good problem to have, of course.

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37 JoeTaxpayer March 4, 2020 at 3:47 pm

What occurred to me was that the market has been rising for most of the time since the March ’09 bottom. And that those who entered the market since, have only seen the market go up. (Not true, 2018 S&P was down 4.41%, but that’s nothing after a 22% up year.

Hopefully, it won’t scare them out of the market long term.

My end of Feb spreadsheet shows down 7% YTD, which includes the 2 month’s spending. FIRE or any flavor of R, had better include the right mix to get you through the ups and downs.
We are in interesting times right now.

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38 J. Money March 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Yup, and if your stomach can’t handle the turmoil then it’s perfectly fine to invest *elsewhere* too! Either temporarily or long term depending on how easy it is for you to sleep at night…

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39 steveark March 4, 2020 at 5:41 pm

So I lost a couple of hundred thousand over nine days, big deal. As my fellow Arkansan Sam Walton once said, its paper anyway. Of course Sam had more paper than I do!

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40 J. Money March 6, 2020 at 2:59 pm

More like electrons these days ;)

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