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How Often Do You Check Your Net Worth?

by retirebyforty on October 28, 2011 · 44 comments

in goals and milestones, investing, poll

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Your net worth is the value of your asset minus debt.

I have a spreadsheet that I set up to calculate our net worth. I have to manually enter the latest stock prices, but that’s all right because it makes me more aware of how my investments are doing. It’s a bummer updating this spreadsheet during the down market though. Sometimes I ignore it for days and only update it when things start to look better. On the other hand, I update this spreadsheet almost daily when stocks are going up. It just feels good to see the net worth increasing.

In August, I didn’t like calculating the net worth at all, it was painful. On a rare good day like October 27th, I ran the number twice. VWO went up 6% yesterday. Emerging markets have been dragging down my portfolio all year long.

I also use Personal Capital, but I like my spreadsheet better. I can see my current allocation and constantly tweak my contribution to achieve my targeted asset allocation. For example, if my emerging market % is low, then I will increase my 401k contribution to that area next month.

I’m using using Personal Capital to manage my investments. You can keep track of your income, expenses, and investments, all in one place. Personal Capital is geared for investors and have many great tools. See my review of Personal Capital and how they helped me reduce what I’m paying in investment fees.

Anyway, I’m curious how often you check your net worth. Does the frequency change when you know you are losing or gaining money?

How often do you calculate your net worth during a bull market?

  • daily (21%, 22 Votes)
  • weekly (21%, 22 Votes)
  • monthly (44%, 46 Votes)
  • yearly (9%, 9 Votes)
  • never (5%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 104

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How often do you calculate your net worth during a bear market?

  • daily (16%, 15 Votes)
  • weekly (14%, 13 Votes)
  • monthly (55%, 50 Votes)
  • yearly (8%, 7 Votes)
  • never (7%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 91

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I calculate the net worth almost daily when my investments are doing well, and somewhere between weekly and monthly during the down market. What about you? Take my poll so we can see if this is the case for other investors.

If you need some help keeping track of your finances, you should Personal Capital.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle October 28, 2011 at 6:26 am

Once a month, good or bad. I do a monthly tracking of our net worth and I always run the numbers around the 7th of every month. This is because our credit cards and mortgage are paid on the 1st and the few days in between makes sure everything has cleared.

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

That’s pretty good, nice and consistent. Lately, I’ve been a bit obsessive about checking net worth and even blog stats. I think I need a vacation.

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Kevin @ Thousandaire.com October 28, 2011 at 7:43 am

I only check once a month. I did, however, check my 401k yesterday and today. I went up $1,200 (7%) in one day yesterday! Unfortunately, I’m still down 15% on the year. Stupid aggressive investing!

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

7% in one day is pretty awesome! Still 15% down? You invest with margin right? Did you get a margin call?
My 401k is still down about 4%, but that’s a lot better than -10% last week!

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Brave New Life October 28, 2011 at 8:02 am

This is why I love the permanent portfolio (although my portfolio is a slight deviation). Very little volatility, no worries about bear or bull markets. Because of this, I only check once per month.

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

Hey Millionaire! My portfolio is a bit volatile right now due to the emerging market exposure and some changes in the 401k program at work. I will try to make it more stable over the next year or so.

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter October 28, 2011 at 8:07 am

Very cool survey. I responded. We usually check our network once a week regardless of what the markets are like.

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

I guess most people are very consistent. That’s nice to know.

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Aloysa October 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

I check it once a month, but sometimes I get a sneak peek during that month. I am somewhat obsessed with that number. Probably because it is not that great. lol

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

Once a month is a good frequency. I think that will be my target eventually. :)

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20'sFinances October 28, 2011 at 9:47 am

I calculate it once a month, good or bad. But, if the market is doing well, I may just glance at my investments (but not calculate it out all the way).

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Suba October 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

I check once a month regardless of the market condition. My husband might have to listen to my rant if it goes down big time even after throwing money at it for a few months :) but that doesn’t stop me from checking or make me check frequently. Once a month.

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krantcents October 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I almost never check my net worth! In the last few years, it changes thanks to factors outside my control. Home values and stock market vales have changed the game. I am more focused on cash flow. As I get closer to retirement, I think I focus more on spendible that being asset rich.

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retirebyforty October 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm

That is a great way to look at it. I check our cash flow once a month and it is a much more dependable metric than net worth as far as retirement goes.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc October 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Once a month along with our income statement is more than enough for us. I don’t want to be anal-retentive about it. Like you, I often subconsciously delay calculating it during the worst parts of the month.

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Hunter @ Financially Consumed October 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

It’s in front of me every day via Quicken. Although I do download account updates more often in an appreciating market, and when I am maxing out Roth contributions. I suppose my psyche likes to be reassured with good news.

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Robert @ The College Investor October 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I always check it daily. But, I am The College Investor!

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Ashley @ Money Talks October 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I actually check it quarterly, which wasn’t one of your options! :) I voted monthly since I do update our savings and debt levels on a spreadsheet every month. So it’s a partial check.

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retirebyforty October 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

Oops, I forgot about quarterly.

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YFS October 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Once a month like clock work. I use yodlee.com and that’s when they let me know my monthly changes in networth. I glance at it on a weekly basis as well since that is when I update my spending plan.

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Hank October 29, 2011 at 4:46 am

Once a month. Any more frequently and I’ll start to obsess about it almost to a point where it is unhealthy.

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retirebyforty October 31, 2011 at 9:54 am

I can see that. I really should cut down on my frequency.

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101 Centavos October 29, 2011 at 4:48 am

I think you’re right. Most people’s review frequency increases as the market gets frothier, if only to confirm how smart and clever we are with our choices.

During a bear phase, down goes the head into the sand.

I don’t check net worth too often. I spend more time on my 401K and Scottrade accounts.

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retirebyforty October 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

I spend most of my time with the 401k and Firstrade account as well. I’m checking a bit more often now that we’re getting close to the end of the year and I’ll need to rebalance soon.

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Jeremy @ Personal Finance Whiz October 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

I use Mint to track our finances so anytime I log in I can see a snapshot of our net worth. I guess I’m not intentionally checking it, but when I go in each week to do our finances it’s there staring me in the face.

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PKamp3 October 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

I check it every time I am motivated to fire up Mint – which I am able to load every account except my mortgage and my HSA. That ends up being daily most of the time, haha!

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retirebyforty October 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

It’s nice to see the number goes up in Mint, doesn’t it? When the market is down, I stop checking MInt daily and go to weekly. :)

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Jackie October 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

I check my net worth monthly no matter what, but I usually check my investments daily unless I get busy — also no matter what.

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Buck Inspire. October 29, 2011 at 10:44 am

Great questions! I use Mint for tracking. If we’re in bull mode, I look more. If we’re in a bear, I don’t like the pain and I look less. What do you use to generate your poll questions? Nice job!

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My University Money October 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

I check mine about once a month, but because of my low exposure to the stock market at the moment, how equities are doing has very little relevance. How often do I check my Google analytics on the other hand… WAY too much!

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retirebyforty October 31, 2011 at 9:56 am

Low exposure to the stock market? Where are your investment? real estate? I’m curious.

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Paula @ AffordAnything.org October 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

I’m with the majority — I track monthly regardless of whether its up or down.

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cashflowmantra October 30, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I only do it once a year regardless of whether the market is up or down. I am too busy to do it more frequently.

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SB @ One Cent At A Time October 31, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I voted weekly for both questions. I am impressed with monthly viewer number.

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Dr Dean November 1, 2011 at 7:46 am

Yearly.

I think you guys need a life :)

I’m not talking about what’s in your bank account or your brokerage statement, (these sit for months unopened too!) but your true net worth. You check it monthly? or weekly?

Sheesh-I think that leads to making knee jerk reactions. Make your long term plans and then make minor course adjustments every year. That’s what works for me. (Damn I feel so inadequate now….)

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retirebyforty November 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

Haha, I am a bit obsessive.

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Evan November 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

Once a month when the market is doing terrible…when market is up I check probably weekly. My net worth spreadsheet just has totals not individual stock holdings like yours.

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Leigh November 4, 2011 at 9:35 am

I calculate my net worth monthly, usually around the 2nd or 3rd business day, but as of the end of the month. The dividends in my 401(k) account take a few days past the end of the month to post.

Why do I calculate monthly? I feel that data is knowledge and knowledge is power. I have monthly net worth data going back 7 and a half years now (yes I started tracking my net worth as a teenager) and it’s really motivating to see how that chart has changed over the last 7 and a half years!

I do concentrate mostly on savings goals and verifying that I’m spending money where I care about it, but I also like seeing my net worth go up/down (mostly up). That might change after I buy a townhouse.

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retirebyforty November 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I haven’t tracked my net worth from month to month, but I will start now. :)

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Michael Zhuang September 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

I have a ball park number in my head, but I rarely sit down and calculate it.

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Eric October 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I check it almost daily. It’s a disease, and I’d be better off if I didn’t do it so much. But…a lot of things in life are like that. :)

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