This New Year, Figure Out What You're Worth

Michelle Singletary: Your net worth might not be as great as you think it is
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2014 12:45 PM CST
This New Year, Figure Out What You're Worth
Liam DiMercurio, 5, eyes a dollar bill in Red Lion, Pa., on July 17, 2014.   (AP Photo/York Daily Record, Jason Plotkin)

The economy is chugging right along, interest is cheap, jobs are there for the taking, and Americans ... have apparently learned nothing from 2008, because with a new year looming, a pair of surveys shows that only about one in three of us are setting financial objectives. And while losing 10 pounds might seem a lot sexier than, say, sitting down and figuring out your net worth, Michelle Singletary recommends you do the latter anyway. Writing at the Washington Post, she says "there are a lot of pretenders, people who appear rich but are really paupers because they have a negative net worth."

It's more than just your income: It's the "difference between your total assets and liabilities or, simply put, what you owe minus what you own." The recession zapped a lot of wealth for lower- and middle-income families, so it's particularly important for these groups to figure out what their baseline is so "you have a starting point to see how you're doing." The differences between the haves and the have-nots are drastic, she says: Last year, upper-income families claimed $639,400 in net worth, middle-income families had $96,500, and low-income families had just $9,300. So once you have your number, the real work begins: "If you don't like your net-worth figure, make some changes. And those changes can start with making some financial resolutions for the new year." Click for her full column. (More money stories.)

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