Calculate Your Net Worth
Occasional checks on your net worth--your current assets minus liabilities--can yield valuable intelligence about your financial health.
I can still visualize the passbook that accompanied my first savings account--navy faux leather with our local bank's logo etched in gold. I remember the thrill of writing in the $5 interest payment I earned on my first $100, and the pain (albeit short-lived) of withdrawing $79 to pay for the bike I had researched intensively, a metallic blue Raleigh three-speed. (In hindsight, that choice smacks suspiciously of the influence of my noncomfortist dad; all of the other girls at my school rode sky-blue Schwinn Breezes.) I recall strategizing about how I could build my balance back up to $105 or beyond.
Passbook savings accounts are mostly all long gone, along with 5% interest rates and English-made bikes for $79. And my financial life is more complicated, too: My husband and I have 401(k)s, IRAs, and taxable accounts, as well as two health savings accounts--one for saving and one for investments. There have been home loans, home equity loans, and one car loan, too. In contrast with my fifth-grade self, I can no longer tell you--to the penny--how much money I have to my name on any given day.