Debt Reduction and a Positive Net Worth is the New Cool.
Validating your financial numbers whether they include a negative or positive net worth doesn’t make you any better than your neighbour, friends and family. But, if you want in on the money action while you’re young there are some things I’ve learned on our quest towards debt freedom.
I often have fans asking me, “How have you been able to save so much money before the age of 40?” The answer is simple, I hate debt and I love a positive net worth. We didn’t start out earning 6 figures to get where we are today but we both came into the relationship with the same mindset and savings in the bank. My wife is a stay-at-home mom now so earning one income is what fuels our family and positive net worth.
It’s funny when I hear that people think we have lots of money because what one person believes is bounty another views as peanuts. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies but I can safely say that money won’t fall into your lap unless you win the lottery and the odds of that happening are slim.
We realize that we are fortunate but I believe that our goals will always push us to build our financial empire until we no longer can. I’m often envious of how others can build positive net worth so I listen, read and create an action plan.
I’ve always wanted to be debt-free so I didn’t have to worry about something crashing down on me without any financial source to pick me up. I’ve always been and still am a planner and with that came the discipline to grasp frugal living concepts when I set out on my journey. I wanted to earn as much money as I could so I never had to worry about it. Without a dream and desire it will never come true.
I started my financial journey at the age of 20 buying my first property and that is where my wealth building lessons all began. One of the worst mistakes young people make today is spending themselves house poor because they want it all. Don’t make this mistake!
What was the first lesson I learned?
Money is a necessity if you hope to live a stress free financial life. Your magic money number is up to you though. You don’t need a million dollars to be rich and financially stable. You just need to have control of your money, kill debt and find ways to keep your money working for you. Thankfully my parents were there to help give me the push I needed and it wasn’t money that they gave me.
If you want to buckle down and feel secure about your financial future while you’re young it’s imperative that you start now, not tomorrow. In all honesty everyone should be worried about debt and how it will affect their life. The quick fix loan or credit card might work for a short time but eventually money has to be paid back.
Being your own wealth calculator is the best way I can describe how my wife and I were able to grow our net worth over the years. You can’t just randomly look up how much money your net worth should be at a certain age because everyone is different.
Your goals will be different, your career will be different, location is different, country is different, debt load is different, relationships are different. Lots of differences mean variance in net worth for your age category so don’t rely on what others have to value your own worth.
I received an email at the end of January after posting our first net worth update for 2016 from a 20-year-old guy who wants to know how he can start building a positive net worth while he is young.
Hi Mr. CBB,
I don’t know if I am contacting you in the correct manner but I’d like to ask you a question about your net worth update in 2016. I’ve followed many of your blog posts over the years so I know you invested in real estate at a young age which is something I’d like to do after university.
What I want to know is how I can build a positive net worth and educate myself about finance while I’m young. What are some of the things you did? I don’t want to have any regrets as I get older about my finances so I’m hoping to get on top of things before it’s too late.
Thanks for your question. Over the years we’ve had a bumpy ride with our finances since I went back to school in my late 20’s. We didn’t have privacy as we rented a room in a house with noisy teenagers and we saved what little money we earned so we could build a nice down-payment to get out of there.
There were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through my career change because it was tough but I battled through it all because I knew that there was something at the end of the rainbow. I can tell you what my wife and I have learned along the way Jim but you need to jump in the front seat and drive your finances home on your own. Don’t wait for someone to say, GO! You’re smart for taking control now because if I hadn’t done the same I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Using a budget doesn’t come with an age requirement however without a budget we wouldn’t be debt free today. One of the most important things to remember about budgeting is that you are treating your finances like they are a business. When you take control of your financial house you are more likely to have a successful business because it’s easier to make changes when you know where changes need to be made.
When I was in my early 20’s the last thing I wanted to do was create debt. I wanted to own my own house instead of renting and paying someone else’s mortgage off. In order to make that dream a reality I knew I had to be mindful of my spending habits. I was what many people consider today a minimalist in all aspects of my life.
Many young people today have the same mindset especially with all the media attention on how debt that is not paid back on time can ruin your credit score and potentially cause a set-back in purchasing a home or getting a loan from the bank.
I’ve always been frugal for as far back as I can remember especially with buying groceries which can easily sink a budget. Over the years on the blog I’ve discussed just about every food shopping trick in the book to save money and help frugal living lovers around the world.
Related: The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
From a young age my parents would take me to car boot sales (garage sales) in the UK where we would buy second-hand items for our home for far less than retail. I’ve never owned a brand new car and I’ve always limited my wardrobe to key pieces that include lots of jeans and t-shirts.
Even when we got married my suit came from Value Village which saved me hundreds of dollars had I bought a new suit. I haven’t worn a suit since so an expensive suit would still be collecting dust in the closet. If the time comes and I need another suit, I’ll go back to a second-hand shop and suit up on the cheap. No matter what I look at in life I’ve always asked myself, How do I get it for less money? Frugal living concepts are wide-spread around the world so you have to pick frugal ways that work for you.
Do What You Love
If you’ve ever heard the expression, “Do what you love and the money will come“, it’s true. For many years I worked in an industry which I hated but the money was paying the bills. Once you get stuck in the career rut it can be tough to get out from it.
If you don’t like what you are doing, keep looking for a new job or consider a career change. Don’t ignore a job listing because you may be missing a skill, give it a shot and see what happens. Many employers are willing to train on the job or send employees to school to update their skills so they can provide top-notch service to the business. You may have other skills that are in demand which mean more to them.
Now, that the government in Canada will be offering a free education to lower-income families/individuals going back to school may be in the cards for those of you who want to follow your dreams. It may be tough going at first like it was for us because my wages were very low but we managed by being frugal, renting and stashing away as much cash as we could.
Related: Renting vs. Buying a house
If you’re young take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you and take them as far as you can go. I promise you that you will look back and thank yourself for not giving up and pursuing an expertise that only you can smile about. I’m that person everyday.
I’m a huge believer in financial literacy which means that if you want to grow your wealth you need to learn as much as you can about the industry. It really is a massive financial world and everyone has their opinions and tips about how to get rich, how to be successful, how to become debt-free and so on but the key here is learning how the experts in the field are doing it.
What that means is you should be following reputable personal finance blogs, Finance websites, read books, watch documentaries and talk to the money experts. You’re more likely to learn what not to do from someone who is deep in debt because they know what it’s like to be there.
On the flip side chatting to someone who is successful will give you insight into what it takes to triumph financially in this world. No one has ever lost time over education because anything you don’t already know is worth gold in taking your finances from point A to point B.
Part of my daily routine is reading finance blogs, personal stories, online newspaper articles and when I can squeeze in a chapter in one of my finance books I’ll do it.
Invest Your Money
If you want your money to grow you should invest it rather than keeping it in a bank account. You could easily do this as we have well over $100,000 in the bank but to be honest it’s not making us rich by any stretch of the imagination.
The money will be used for renovations now that our house is paid off and to catch up my retirement savings. I’ve also got loads of room in my Tax Free Savings Account which will be maxed out in the coming years.
One of the biggest investments I made at a young age was buying my first house at age 20 and my second at 24. I had no intention to continue renting after University as I wanted to start investing in my future. Buying a home was a smart move for me considering my parents owned many houses and were landlords. I often heard them talk about their houses being part of their investment portfolio.
If you’ve got some cash and a business plan that you believe will smash the world with success or help you to build your bank account it doesn’t hurt to invest in becoming a business owner. Many successful bloggers I know work from home now earning big bucks behind their computer.
Yes, blogging can be a business and can earn you lots of money if you put the effort into it. Brick and mortar businesses are great too but you will have more overhead than what you would have at home.
Either way with a solid business plan and some cash to back it up you can invest in your future by becoming a business owner while you are young and turn it into your future castle.
My wife and I would always challenge ourselves to see if we could save more money month after month when we were in our early 20’s. We didn’t know each other back then but we always wanted to be successful and ensure there was always money in the bank and that we lived the life we deserved.
By continually pushing the financial limits we were both able to come into our relationship practically debt-free and with comparable bank accounts and retirement savings. With huge school loans, credit card debt and rising costs it can be tough to get ahead but you have to remember that you hold the wheel. Set goals, crush them and start over.
Don’t give up. The going can get tough sometimes in the financial hoopla of life especially when emergencies arise, job loss happens or other situations that cause your world to crash for a bit.
Pick yourself back up after you’ve processed the situation and push yourself over the hump so you can continue to build a positive net worth without fear. Stay organized, focused and always have emergency savings by your side.
Build a positive net worth now
You’re never too late when it comes to your future so don’t let age crush your hopes of building a positive net worth even if you are nearing retirement. Not everyone is able to start investing from a young age but something is better than nothing, even if it’s simply holding little to no debt.
Overall, I’ve had many life lessons jump in my way whether it be financial or just encompassing my new life in Canada. The best decision I made was forgoing my earning power to go back to school as I am able to do what I love and get paid while doing it. As of today the entire process has given me more confidence and relief now that we don’t owe money to anyone except ourselves.
One last thing, a positive net worth doesn’t define you but it certainly is nice knowing that you’re on the right financial path.
What age did you start investing in growing a positive net worth?
Our net worth 2016
RESP Contribution 2016: $208.33 a month.
Changes to our Net Worth in February
February was tough on our net worth even though it did increase just over $2000. We knew at some point the markets were going to hit our net worth but we are optimistic that they will bounce back and we will keep moving forward. Nothing is for certain when it comes with investing which is why we have the risk factor.
Understanding net worth
What Does Individual Net Worth Mean?
Net Worth is a snap shot of your financial health sort of like a picture or debt to net assets. In simple terms it’s a total of the value of your assets minus your liabilities.
We credit the growth of our net worth due to patience, perseverance, using a monthly budget and not giving up. Your numbers may go up and down but don’t let the numbers scare you rather understand why and move on.
If you would like to use our budget I offer a FREE downloadable budget which I created and that you can use at home just like we do. I don’t charge for it because I want you to save money not spend more!
There are tonnes of other free printable lists offered at Canadian Budget Binder to help you achieve some of those financial goals and build your net worth.
Now… what you need to do is determine just how much net worth you actually have and go from there….
Determining net worth
Figuring out net worth is fairly easy as long as you know your personal numbers or monthly finances which means you need to do your homework. Net Worth is simply adding up all your assets (what you own) then taking away your liabilities (what you owe) which will give you a net worth number.
Understanding your net worth will help you determine if you are on track to meeting or beating your personal financial goals. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities
Calculate net worth
Do you know how to calculate your own Net Worth?
Now you can stop asking yourself the question, how do you find out your net worth? Why? It’s easy to determine. We like to calculate our net worth every month so we know if we are still on track. Some people calculate it yearly or quarterly. It’s really up to you and how informed you want to stay when it comes to your financial health.
Net Worth is essentially an estimate and not everyone uses the same type of figures. Some people don’t include vehicles like we do or they may leave out the assets inside the home like we have. It depends on what you want to calculate or what you can sell today and make money on.
Why not go ahead and calculate your own using our Free Money saving Tool Net worth Calculator (Canadian Budget Binder 2012)
Why you should set goals
Setting goals are the only way we work towards achieving what we want to get done as a couple around the house and in our financial life. I know that without them we would be flying by the seat of our pants which wouldn’t work for us.
I find it’s much easier to be held accountable when I share what we need to do with all of you. Yes, my wife refers to the list when she asks what I plan to do next. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for me or not.
In the graphical representation below, I have used excel to provide a prediction based on the past years monthly net worth figures.
Using figures from our actual net worth gains over the past 12 months (the solid blue line) it has suggested that by the end of this year (2016) we should be just shy of $900,000.00. This can change over the course of the year and is only a prediction based on known historical figures from our finances.
According to the chart, we should hit the million mark in June 2017.
This is nice to know but anything can happen over the next year. Hopefully with some careful planning we can achieve this goal and go beyond it.
Do you set goals for the year?
Our financial numbers
When budgeting anything is possible, we are proof of that although we still have a long way to go in our journey. These are our numbers and our goals, not a means of comparison towards your own goals to others target goals.
We don’t care how much money others make or if they have a high net worth or if it is lower than ours as it’s not a competition. I hope our experiences perhaps will help guide you along your financial path working towards debt freedom.
Different financial paths
Not everyone has the same path in life. Some of you may have had to start over like I did or go to school a second time and now have OSAP loans to pay back.
Others may have divorced, lost money in the stock market or other investments, suffered job loss, fell ill or was injured on the job etc. but you can’t let that stop you from achieving your financial goals.
Some of you may have been given trust funds, paid-for homes, paid educations or perks in life that give you a financial kick-start and that’s OK too. Remember what I said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you save it”.
Focus on you and don’t let the evil eye of money jealousy or keeping up with the Kardashians cloud your vision. No one cares about your money as much as you do so don’t waste your energy trying.
The only reason people accumulate wealth is because they know how to save or invest it wisely even if they did inherit money or win the lottery. The smallest improvements should mean big strides in working towards reaching your goals.
Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn and we’ve all been there. Money can be an evil force for some people especially those who have a negative attitude towards their own financial situation.
I urge you to be optimistic and little by little with determination you too should see improvements, if you want that to happen.
Net worth updates 2016
Below you can click the links to read past 2016 net worth updates to see if we were on target or if we struggled with some of our numbers.
In the last year since January 2015 our net worth according to our figures has grown $119,250.95
February 2016 $777,447.95 – February 2015 $658,197.00 = +$119,250.95
That’s all for this months net worth update but please check in at the beginning of April 2016 to see how we made out in March 2016 and what has happened to our finances since.
Remember: “It’s Not About How Much Money You Make It’s How You Save It“
Check out our past actual Monthly Budget Updates to see how much money we earned and where the money went for the month.
Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net/moomsabuy