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I waylaid and delayed calculating my net worth. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be happy with what I saw when I finally calculated the total of all my accounts to give the sum of my net worth. Similar to crossing the street to avoid chatting with the ex’s latest girlfriend upgrade.
I didn’t want to go there.
I put it off until I came to a point where I had little choice. Even though I had collected titles including, saving queen and active investor. The last piece was measuring my progress.
Just like a calorie counter, a net worth was how I would track ups, downs, and everything in between, even if it started with disappointment.
How I doubled my net worth in 3 years began with a dive into discomfort.
On a day of insignificance, I opened a new tab in my budget and called it net worth.
I’m also the queen of cleverness.
Then, I started to add rows for accounts and columns for months. I opened my banking and financial institutions holding my money and entered their totals.
I had 12 accounts spread across a cacophony of establishments and that alone took up most of the page. Unfortunately, that is where the impressiveness ended. Once the rows and columns were totaled, I felt sick.
A lifetime of employment and my assets reflected enough to buy a truck. Not a fancy truck with a sunroof, leather seats, and butt warmers but a standard, good-luck-chuck kindof model.
It was a low point in my financial journey. I had successfully saved and budgeted for years (years!), and to be worth so little felt like a blow to everything I had achieved.
Before I had no reason to be grumpy about my net worth ignorance. As soon as I changed my ignorance to knowledge, I had to do something about the mess I made.
Next stop, painful motivation.
Even though I loathed the net worth tab like I loath cleaning up someone else’s explosive diarrhea, I kept tracking.
I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to because I was determined that this starting point would not be my finishing point.
Over time the pain became an ache that motivated many financial decisions. I made better choices, adjustments, and, most importantly, kept tracking even when I didn’t feel like it.
I had turned into the dreaded financial coach whose actions were all tough love, all the time.
Three years later, I adore tracking my net worth. Sometimes my enthusiasm runs away from me and I track my net worth earlier in the month instead of the very last day.
I get a thrill when with the muted leaps or the giant jumps with each month’s change.
Though it’s exceptionally better than it used to be three years ago, I feel less tied to it because it’s not a blemish on my finances. Instead, it’s a passion I feed and tend better than the house plants.
Don’t tell my house plants!
How I doubled my net worth in 3 years can be boiled down to:
I tracked my net worth even when I didn’t feel like it.
Feelings are fleeting. If I would’ve let my inner grump take over, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.
Consolidation is queen.
I had 12 (!) accounts when I started three years ago. Today, I have 7.
Having so many accounts made it hard to keep track of my net worth because of how widespread it was. There is value in diversification and too much is a bust.
To consolidate the cause, I rolled over retirement and brokerage accounts into institutes with the lowest fees and most flexibility. I stayed with my employer’s retirement platform (TSP) and Vanguard.
Along with leaning into my mighty Millennial minimalism, money grows faster with more friends. Like the adage, you can go fast alone, but if you want to go far, go together (with a million of your little green friends).
I saved, saved, and saved some more.
As a federal employee, I’m fixed on what I can make. When it comes to saving, there is unlimited opportunity.
Once I learned how to save, it’s not like it becomes less useful with time like that one time I bought a beanie babies. That was money, time, and ego I’ll never get back.
I can start saving today while making more, demands time.
Whether it’s saving or learning a new skill, I start with easy effort. I avoid spending by
- Not going to my favorite stores
- Putting purchases on a waiting list before buying
- Trying not to pay full price for anything
- Waiting for coupons, sales, or discounts, even if it takes a long time
- Having free hobbies
Small adjustments can leveraged big savings. “Fulfillment and a better life are not on-sale at a department store.” States the Becoming Minimalist sage, Joshua Becker and I heartily agree.
Eventually, I started making more.
When I couldn’t save anymore, I started poking around with making more.
I leveraged my employer by accepting overtime, holiday, and whatever else was offered outside of normal working hours.
Paid surveys, credit card rewards, cash-back apps, and dog sitting where different options I cycled through to figure out what fits and what fails. It took time and patience, but the results were worth it.
Eventually, I did get a raise, but that was 2.75 years into the 3 years it took to double my net worth. Making more is a valuable way to increase net worth. However, this statistically average human, it took more time and effort than saving.
What I measured, got managed and that’s how I doubled my net worth in 3 years.
If I didn’t measure my net worth, I’d have no idea I doubled it. That’s bean counter power. A soft powdery substance that looks suspiciously like an illegal drug.
Outwardly my life stayed the same. I drive an older car that’s a few years older, I wear similar clothes that I bought from a consignment shop, and I still inhale coffee like the liquid gold it is, yet there is a subtle difference below the surface.
Confidently, I donate 5% of my income. I treat myself to an occasional massage using my tax-free discount (FSA). Once a month, I visit local coffee shops and museums.
I’ve crafted a life where I don’t crave stuff, mostly experiences. My values have shifted from quantity to quality. Cushion crafted by tracking net worth is worth every ounce of yesterday’s disappointment for today’s pound of success.