Be Above Average – Steps to Increase your Net Worth

What is the best way to check your financial health?

checklist-3222079_1280

Your credit score? Blah! No, that’s just the banks way of grading on how well you handle your debt addiction.

You can have a credit score of 850, paying your bill every month on time, collecting those HUGE cash back allowances… and be broke with zip, nada, in your checking and saving accounts. No matter how much you see it advertised every day by the likes of Credit Karma and the like. Remember, when something is advertised, its because there is money to be made on YOU, not to help you. So, no, not your credit score.

Something the financial industry is not shoving in your face everyday is your net worth.

Your net worth is the best way to evaluate your financial health.

So what is your net worth then? In layman terms… your net worth is the difference between your assets and liabilities.

An asset is anything of value that can be converted to cash. Think, a home with positive equity, rental properties, businesses, stocks, bonds, savings, checking accounts, etc.

A liability is typically something that you owe to somebody else. Think, credit card debt, student loans, auto loan, home mortgage, personal loans, etc.

Net Worth = Assets – Liability

So what is yours? You can figure it out easily by trying out our free net worth health check printable in our new Free Downloads section.

Where do you stand?

So are you worth something? Or are you sitting in the red?

In accordance to a study performed by NerdWallet and reprinted by MarketWatch earlier this year the median and average net worth by age is below:

  • Under 35: Median net worth: $11,000 (average net worth: $76,000)
  • 35-44: $59,800 ($288,700)
  • 45-54: $124,200 ($727,500)
  • 65-74: $224,100 ($1,066,000)
  • 75+: $264,800 ($1,067,000)

I personally would not compare myself against the “average” numbers as they can be skewed heavily by your millionaire/billionaire buddies, think the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.

Don’t worry, no matter where you are in your financial journey there are always ways and time to improve your standing.

Live Below Your Means

You hear this one all the time, but are you actually doing it? Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Are you keeping up with the Jones down the street, you know, the ones who are maxing out their 5, 6, or 7th credit card buying that new iPhone?

Do you know where your money is going? If you don’t, give our Free Monthly Budget printable a try to see where your hard earned dollars are going.

young-791849_1280

After writing everything down, give it a a real hard look. What are your biggest culprits? Are you spending too much on going out to eat every night? Is that cable bill outrageous? How much are you paying every month for that new car?

If you want to see where you can cut back on your current expenses head on over to our Ultimate Budget Guide to learn some tips and tricks.

Attack your debts!

If you want to turbo charge increasing your net worth PAY OFF THAT DEBT. Any debt you have is acting like a vampire on your finances, constantly sucking money out of your pockets in  the form of interest payments. Every time you pay off a debt your basically paying your future self in saved interest payments, with a guaranteed return.

vacuum-cleaner-268179_1280

For example, we paid off over $160,000 in student loans in a 4 year span, about $60,000 this year alone. If we did the normal payment schedule we would be handing Sallie Mae almost $10,000 in interest a year! Now that money is going back into our investments and savings, turbo charging our net worth.

““Whatever interest rate you have — it might be a student loan with a 7 percent interest rate — if you pay off that loan, you’re making 7 percent. That’s your immediate return, which is a lot safer than trying to pick a stock or trying to pick real estate, or whatever it may be,”

Mark Cuban (Billionaire)

Automate Your Savings

One of the easiest ways to remove the temptation of spending your paycheck the second its pay day is by automating where you money goes. Take out the worry of trying to save X dollars every pay check. Have your paycheck automatically send money to your savings or investing accounts.

Give your paycheck a purpose! Take a look at our 35/45/20 rule to maximize your growth potential.

turn-on-2933016_1280

Maximize Retirement Accounts

If your primary income comes from a W-2 (your 9 to 5 job) a good chuck of your gross income is going to either Uncle Sam or your primary state of residence in the form of taxes.

You can put more of that money in your pocket by maximizing your retirement contributions, either through your 401k retirement plan or a traditional IRA.

You reduce your current tax liabilities by reducing taxable gross income by increasing your pre-tax contributions. By even increasing your contributions by even 1 to 2 % you could end up putting thousands of dollars back into your retirement “pocket”.

money-2696234_1280

Give Yourself an Allowance

One of the greatest concepts that helped us turbo charge our net worth this year was giving ourselves money to spend on whatever we wanted.

Yes, we gave ourselves an allowance. A fixed amount of money that we could spend on anything!

That $4 Starbucks coffee? Yup, went for it. New video game? Fancy pair of pants. No sweat. As long as it fitted within the allowance.

By not depraving ourselves, we didn’t feel like we were punishing ourselves on our financial journey.

piggy-bank-2889042_1280

Remember its a marathon, not a sprint. Think of it kind of like how folks typically fail a dieting, because they deprave themselves of simple pleasures instead of doing what is right by developing a long term, sustainable, life style change to achieve their goal.

By creating a balanced sustainable system you are sure to succeed.

What you set as your allowance is up to your given scenario. Could be $20 a week or $500, you may have to play around it until you hit that sweet spot. I recommend cranking it down until it hurts and then adjust upward.

Invest in Appreciating Assets

Make your money work for you by creating multiple streams of income.

Rental properties, stocks, bonds, high yield savings accounts, starting your own business.

All of the above investment instruments have their own barriers of entry and each come with their own levels of risk.

The lowest barrier to entry and lowest risk is definitely a high yield online savings account. In a Federal Reserve interest rate cutting world, what we define as “high yield” is around 1.90%. Look into online high yield savings providers to get the best rates. I recommend Synchrony Bank, but there are plenty of alternatives, just be sure that they offer FDIC insurance!

stock-624712_1280

The second lowest barrier to entry to grow your money would be in the world of stocks and bonds.

It’s actually even cheaper and easier than ever, as of October of 2019, many of the major trading houses have reduced their commission fees to $0. The risk increases though, stocks and bonds can go to zero, so due diligence is required here, but the growth potential is huge. If you are unfamiliar with the stock market start with Investopedia.com and SeekingAlpha.com to get investing savey!

new-home-1664302_1280

Investment properties are another method of increasing your wealth. You’ve probably seen the infomercials or YouTube videos of 20 year old millionaires flipping or renting out houses, sounds almost too good to be true!

When you step up to looking at investment properties the up front cost and risks amplify. Do you have $200,000 laying around? No? Okay looks like your taking out a loan. Oh shoot, the kitchen needs to be gutted? $20,000. Plumbing problems? $10,000. New roof? $15,000. But wait! You can rent it out for $1200 a month! Wow a 30 year pay back period!

Obviously I am being a little harsh here and plenty of folks are successful with investment properties, but there are plenty of horror stories, so due diligence is required here as well. You may end up being a millionaire on paper but when you only have a net worth of $100,000 and have $900,000 in mortgage liabilities, do you really want that hanging over your head?

Avoid Expensive Liabilities

Do you really need that $50,000 Silverado? You a business owner? No? Office job? Then why are you driving a $50,000 truck? Oh I am sorry your driving a $45,000 BMW sedan, my mistake.

credit-squeeze-522549_1280

New cars are money pits that add very little value to building your net worth. Since most folks are financing the crap out of these new cars its a double whammy. Getting whacked on terrible depreciation, long 7-8 year loan terms leading to being upside down on a depreciating asset. These are anchors on your net worth growth.

When it comes to most consumer goods if you can’t by it in cash, you shouldn’t be buying it at all.

If an automobile is a necessity in your next of the woods, look into to a reliable low mileage used one. If you can pay for it in cash, even better!

Delayed Gratification

Did you see the new Iphone 11 Pro? Wow what a looker! Three cameras you say? No Way! How much?

$1100.

Well… that’s a sure fire way of going in the wrong direction in increasing your net worth.

Do you really need it? Like REALLY really? How about just holding on to that old iPhone 8 just a little while longer.

One of your best tools to increasing your net worth doesn’t have to be how many dollars and cents are coming in to your home every week. Its your mindset in the form of delayed gratification. Resisting the temptation of an “immediate reward” for your long term growth goals is key to your success.

smart-725843_1280.jpg

Bring it all together!

By living to the above topics we were able to supercharge our net worth growth by over 50% this year alone!

Remember, it’s never too late to change your mindset! Take charge today and stick to it. In 3 – 6 – 12 months from now you’ll be amazed by your progress.

Let us know your ideas, tricks, success stories below!

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.

 

Does it still make sense to “cut the cord” in 2019?

You may be asking yourself… “Wait…2019? Why didn’t you cut the cord like every other millennial 10 years ago?”

Short answer – We did.

computer-1583432_1920

Long answer, we cut the cord way back in 2011 in our first apartment, living off of just the digital equivalent of Ramen noodles – 25 mbps Internet, Netflix, and some over-the-air local channels. The internet package at the time was $60 per month plus a $5 per month rental fee on the modem and a Netflix subscription, which at the time was $7.99 a month. Life was good.

Grand total… we were looking at a little under $75 per month.

Fast forward to 2017 and there we were… signing up for a cable & internet bundle!

You..what?! What changed?

We moved to our first home! Yay! Home ownership!

The not so good news was we found out that our previous internet provider was just out of reach, we are talking a less than a mile outside of their coverage map. When asked if they would come our way we were told it would cost a “over a million dollars” to run lines to our area…

binoculars-1209892_1280

So, we begrudgingly had to start shopping around comparing the whole 1 cable provider, 1 DSL provider, and 1 Satellite provider that had service in our area. Like comparing Apples to Apples right? Not quite. The DSL provider had a terrible reputation for quality and the Satellite provider required an ugly dish and a monthly data cap of 100 Gb! That may sound like a lot, but not so… as our average monthly data usage currently is over 400 Gb. So Satellite was out. Who was left?

Good ol’number 15 on America’s most disliked company list – who we will call the “cable company”.

The Hook…

They were offering a sweet deal on an internet/cable combo for $55 per month “for the first 12 months.” Too good to pass up.

…and before you know it we are waiting for the installation. It took about a week and when the first technician showed up it was what you’d expect, he said he didn’t have the right tools he “needed” and said he would “be right back.”

He never came back.

So my wife and I had a cynical laugh, called “the cable company” and had to arrange another on-site visit another 5 days later.

Line…

Fortunately the next install guy was awesome! Extremely friendly and helpful in the whole process of setting up our own modem and router, where to locate it in the house, and how to use a cable box we haven’t had to operate it 5 plus years.

Having super fast internet, to us, a whole 150 Mps was sweet and having one of those remotes that you can speak into was pretty neat. I have a soft spot for techy things.

Sinker!

After the technician left we soon realized that the $55 per month was not really $55 per month.

“High Definition” service was not included, there was an extra $10 monthly fee for that… in the year… 2017. As well as another $12 per month in taxes and other fees. Thankfully we supplied our own modem and router which saved us another $10 per month in fees.

The actual grand total came to a little under $80 per month, a 45% higher price tag that we originally planned.

Time Flies…

Overall we were happy with the service and the first 12 months flew by. Soon 2018 came around and the cable bill did it’s first jump to $99.50, up almost 30%. Alright, we were under contract… it is what it is, we were still happy with the service.

Fast forward to 2019, 2 year contract is over and the bill jumps again to $126 per month, another 25% plus increase.

At this point we just laughed and said okay this is over. We started looking back into cutting the cord.

Clever Gir..Cable Company

Cable companies have gotten smarter regarding the whole “cut the cord” movement in the last few years and are doing all in their power to limit that reduction in revenue by pricing their “internet only” packages to be only a “few” dollars less than a “bundled service”.

As an existing customer we had to jump through hoops to see what the “internet only” prices even were. Information is no longer available for existing customers on pricing online from the big cable company directly, only promo deals for new customers. We had to go to our local cable store to find out what the prices were for existing customers.

Just as I said earlier… we were told, “Oh, where do you live? Oh hmm… well if you just want internet its only going to be a few bucks cheaper than what your currently paying….”

How is that even possible?

Alright, so we had to look into lower tier internet packages to bring the cost down. The lowest tier service was pitiful for 2019, $35 for 15 mps download and 1 mps upload, not very useful for a household full of streaming internet connect devices.

The next tier up was for 60 mps download and 5 mps up for $75, doable and no additional fees. We turned in the cable box, remote, and we were on our way to internet only living again.

So many choices…

doors-1767562_1920

So the internet streaming landscape has changed quite a bit since we first cut the cord in 2011.

There seems to be dozens of streaming choices to choose from! Not only are there more choices than ever, the costs to stream has changed as well.

Streaming Service Table

Wow… we are looking at big bucks to have access to many (not all) options currently available.

Wait it gets better… each service has their own “anchor” show(s) that no other platform can carry, creating an incentive to subscribe to their service.

Remember HBO and a little show called “Game of Thrones”?

Just look at what Disney and Netflix are doing. In the past, Netflix had access to the Marvel franchise including the movies and Marvel branded TV series, creating an incentive for consumers to subscribe and gain unlimited access to an incredible brand that appeals to all ages.

Well, not too long ago Disney decided they wanted a bigger portion of the streaming pie and plan to come out with their own streaming service while not renewing Netflix’s rights to Disney products. Ouch. Good for Disney, bad for consumers.

mouse-trap-2846147_1920

So when you start adding up all the great shows you watch and all the different services you need to do it… things are starting to look a little pricey again.

But, unlike cable you ultimately have a more of a voice and choice on what you really want to pay for.

What we did…

For our household we wanted to improve the cable experience we previously had.

We had a few channels that are our favorites, such as the History, Discovery, Comedy Central,and HGTV channels.

The service that ultimately gave us that and a few other channels of interest was streaming app – Philo, for $20 per month we got 50 live channels and on-demand shows with unlimited recording in High Definition (No $10 HD Fee!). Some of these channels were “extras” that we would have to pay extra for in our old cable package.

To replace the role of our old cable box we picked up a 4K capable Roku Premiere Plus for a one time cost of $35 (Walmart deal at the time) for our living room and another Roku Express for $24 for our bedroom TV which did not have cable originally (to avoid another cable box fee).

20190803_105347.jpg

To bring our entertainment center all together we topped it off with a new Universal Remote for $10.

Savings – BIG and small

money-2696219_1920

When we added up the monthly cost of our new streaming setup we were looking at a new cost of around $95 per month, or a 30% reduction in our monthly expenses. The Roku boxes and remote would be paid off in savings by the first 2 months of service. Over the next 12 months we are looking at freeing up $360, or $720 over the next two years.

Not huge numbers, but we are proud that we were able to improve our services while paying less to the cable company. While ideally stabilize the shock and awe rate increases the cable company was throwing our way every year.

We’ve shared this with our family and friends who are in a similar bind and have convinced them to follow a similar path, some of them will have savings larger than our own, going from $280 per month to around $100 per month. A savings of over $2000 per year, a substantial sum to anyone.

Conclusion

choice-2692575_1920

So does it make sense to cut the cord in 2019?

The answer… it depends. It depends on you and what you want.

You can reduce your costs substantially if you focus on what you really want to watch like we did. Imagine what you could do with another $300 – $2000 per year, or another way to put it – $9000 to $60,000 in savings over 30 years! You could pay off debt, invest… maybe save for something special!

Or, if you want to check all the boxes on the major streaming services your bill may be as high or higher than your old cable bill.

It is ultimately up to you…

Just know that if you want to make the change and cut the cord the upfront effort and initial roadblocks are totally worth it in the end.

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.