If you caught the first post in my ‘Dig Yourself Out of Debt‘ series last week, you will know how important I think it is to know exactly where you stand in terms of your total immediate unsecured liabilities, and any cash reserves you may have. Now, before the uber-observant amongst us say anything – yes I realise that ideally if you have cash reserves you would pay down debt! Afterall, the interest you are probably earning on any positive balance from cash is likely to be dwarfed by the loan or credit card APR.
All that said however, you may like me be stuck with a front-loaded loan that offers no benefit of repaying early (other than to see the back of the loan) and no option of making over-payments. The only option in that scenario is to save up the lump sum necessary to pay off the balance (plus the penalty of one month’s worth of interest) if you want rid of it early – which I do.
At the end of my own ‘Know What You Owe’ fact-finding mission, I did some simple math and came up with my ‘net worth’ (net worth literally just means how wealthy you are), and it’s really easy to figure out.
Add up everything you owe (liabilities), and subtract that amount from any cash and savings you have. Whatever you are left with is your net worth. Simple!
I wanted to know how I was getting on with meeting my own debt freedom target (no later than New Years Day 2010) so I dug out copies of my loan account payments, credit card and bank statements, payslips and my budget spreadsheet, and made myself another spreadsheet with a few simple formulas thrown in to make things easier. Nothing too crazy required, just a couple of simple =SUM() calculations in certain cells to make the laborious leg work a little less laborious…:
The current month is highlighted in bold. Taking my other liabilities into account (the last £203 on my Barclaycard credit card), you can see my total liabilities at the moment are £9,156. But, I have £4,204.51 in cash in a combination of my current and savings accounts. Subtracting total liability from total liquidity, my networth is currently -£4,951.49. Basically, I owe almost five thousand pounds more than I have.
Scroll down a few months into the future however, and things improve. By November I’m only £220 shy of breaking even. In other words, I am currently set to become debt free by 20th December (A full 12 days ahead of target). If I make up that small shortfall, that could drop back to 20th November, 6 weeks earlier than planned. Assuming I don’t get made redundant between now and then and my overtime plans come off, I could knock a couple more weeks off that.
One word of caution though: remember that any entries beyond the present are projections. If you are projecting your own, remember that things often conspire against you; If my car blew up tomorrow, I would have to use some of my cash to fix it, pushing me away from the projected freedom date. Use it as a ready reckoner however and we can see that if all goes well using current known-good data (e.g. the data up until the highlighted line), I won’t be any later than my target, and that was the whole point of this exercise.
Are you currently in negative networth? Do you even know with any certainty? Kudos if you do. You’re not in the minority if you don’t though. Take the first step to digging yourself out of debt and know what you owe. Once you know, you can work out your own net worth and project a date to get into positive growth (or be incredibly unscientific about it and just make up a date like I did!).
If you’re already digging, how is your own target prediction holding up?Leave a reply in the comments below.
Tags: bank, Barclays PLC, Credit, Credit card, Debt, Debt-snowball method, Interest, Loan, Net Worth, Reserve
Category Debt, Net Worth Updates, Strategy
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