5 Steps to Estimating Your Net Worth

By Senior Vice President John Clausen, JD, CFP

When people hear the term “net worth,” they often think it’s merely a number for comparison among wealthy individuals. Actually, net worth can be a valuable metric for use by all individuals in retirement planning, estate planning or determining the amount of annual savings being added to your net worth each year. And it can be done in five easy steps.

  • Dollar assets

Gather records of all bank and retirement accounts, including CDs, IRAs, 401(k)s, checking accounts and cash equivalents. Add their values and enter the amount, preferably on a computer spreadsheet, as “dollar assets.”

  • Large property assets

Make a list of all your highly valued property, including real estate, vehicles, expensive furniture and collections (art and coins, for example). This collective value should be entered as “large property assets.”

  • Small property assets

Compile a list of items worth more than $500, but don’t include consumables or property that’s part of another list (appliances in a home, for example). The total value of these items should be entered as “small property assets.”

  • Liabilities

Now list all of the money you owe, including mortgages, credit card and loan balances. This number goes under “liabilities.”

  • Add and subtract

Add all of your “assets” and subtract your “liabilities” from them. This amount is your total estimated net worth.

While this number doesn’t constitute a legal estimate, it shows where the bulk of your wealth (or debt) lies, how liquid your wealth is and the true values of property.