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Personal Balance Sheet, September 2011 ($342,242, -7.1%)

This article was written by in Monthly Update. 17 comments.


Each month, I publish a financial report to help me track the progress along my path to gain financial independence. This is a long-standing tradition at Consumerism Commentary, with relatively significant updates going all the way back to July 2003. I have made some changes over the years in how these numbers, including the net worth bottom line, are calculated. Recently, I decided to take all of my business-related accounts out of the report, resulting in my purely personal net worth.

Even before making the change, the reports didn’t reflect my total net worth, which would include things like my business as an asset and my estimated tax bill as a liability. Rather than try to create values for these items, particularly the business, I decided it would be just as helpful, or even more helpful, to exclude all business accounts. As a result, there is more fluctuation from month to month because I have not consistently moved cash from business accounts to personal accounts as if I had a paycheck. This is one thing I plan to improve next year through paying myself a consistent salary.

This past weekend, I attended the Financial Blogger Conference in Chicago to meet many of the people I’ve been talking to and emailing for years. It was a great opportunity to share ideas about an industry that has grown from zero in 2003 to a community of thousands of blogs today. I attended many of the conference sessions, including two discussions about writing, one with J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly and one with Donna Freedman from MSN and Surviving and Thriving. J.D. and Donna also won several Plutus Awards at the conference.

I must have met over a hundred people this weekend, so I can’t mention everyone. The event was one of the most professional conferences I’ve attended, with a large amount of quality content and friendly people.

Also notable, this weekend was my first experience using accrued miles in Continental’s OnePass frequent flyer program. I traded in miles for an upgrade from coach class to first class for the flight out to Chicago as well as the flight back to New York. Continental does a good job of spoiling first class travelers, and I’ll likely address this in a future article.

Continue reading to see the numbers as of the end of September 2011.


-1 year -1 month current Δ Δ Δ
ASSETS Sep 2010 Aug 2011 Sep 2011 Prior Mo YTD Prior Yr
Cash in Banks 63,038 78,773 71,621 -9.1% 15.9% 13.6%
Investments 48,548 36,170 33,283 -8.0% -33.4% -31.4%
Retirement 157,542 253,001 234,777 -7.2% 27.3% 49.0%
2004 Honda Civic 5,073 3,973 3,973 0.0% -16.8% -21.7%
TOTAL ASSETS 274,201 371,917 343,653 -7.6% 14.2% 25.3%







LIABILITIES





Credit Cards 3,983 3,483 1,411 59.5% 84.6% 64.6%
TOTAL LIABILITIES 3,983 3,483 1,411 59.5% 84.6% 64.6%







PERSONAL NET WORTH 270,217 368,433 342,242 -7.1% 17.3% 26.7%







Change Over Prior Month 8.5% -2.7% -7.1%


Change Over Prior Year 18.9% 47.9% 26.7%









A good reason for the decline this past month was due to a major tax bill associated with catching up my estimated 2011 taxes. This has been an exceptional year in terms of income from my business — primarily this website. Looking forward, I’ll have more travel expenses as I plan to visit family in California for Thanksgiving, and I may take the opportunity for more travel.

Published or updated October 3, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jared

This has inspired me to create a personal balance sheet. I have often thought of doing it, yet have never actually made the move to do so. It will be nice to have a clear picture of where I stand, my net worth is kind of an abstract concept at this point.

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avatar Jonathan

I started tracking my net worth at the beginning of the year and I love it! In the past all I really had to go by was my cash balance, which fluctuates a lot with payments, investments, etc. Now I have a nice record of my total net worth including principal reduction of debts, which also makes the growth each month larger than it was when I just tracked cash. It’s been very helpful for us.

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avatar Ceecee ♦796 (Dime)

Flexo, J.D. Roth and Donna Freedman all in the same place? I’d love to have the fourth seat at that table. I’d just listen(and probably take notes!)

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)
avatar Jake

Do you actually have *no* other assets beyond cash, investments and your car? Certainly your camera and equipment are worth something, as are other personal effects (e.g., computer, ipad, etc.). Or is this too picayune for you to bother with?

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avatar tbork84 ♦1,867 (Half-Dollar)

I wouldn’t consider items like that as part of my net worth. Personal effects like that could be easy to convert in to cash if needed, but in the meantime they are being used and their value may exceed the cash estimate.

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avatar Jake

Well a car would fall into that category as well, no?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,372 (Platinum)

Sure, there are other assets. A long time ago I included a household inventory line in my net worth, but it was too annoying to track on a monthly basis. The size of these assets has grown, particularly as I’ve accumulated photography equipment for my hobby (or “side side business”), but the household inventory has litle bearing on my day-to-day financial decisions, so I don’t track it here. In fact, my photography equipment is a “bigger” asset than my car, so maybe it would be a good idea to track that better, at least for myself if not online.

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avatar Roger

Flexo, what exactly is included on your “retirement” category? Stocks, maybe a 401k? If it is an IRA, can you take it all out before age 65, or is it “locked” somehow? Are you in favor of Early Retirement Extreme?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,372 (Platinum)

My retirement line consists of 401(k)s and IRAs — yes, these are all age-locked.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

Good for you Flexo. I always am encouraged by a person’s success. Make a plan, set a goal, and go for it. It’s impossible not to meet a goal that a person is working towards – whether it’s negative or positive.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦2,453 (Dollar)

@Ceecee: But you wouldn’t have wanted to be the front-lobby staff on Saturday night. Those poor folks had to listen to a varying crowd of odd jobs like me, Flexo, J.D. Roth, Debt Ninja (from Punch Debt in the Face), Adam Baker, Soam Lali (from Savings.com) and a bunch of blurry guys who moved too fast for me to be able to see their name tags. We whirled and howled from about 10:30 p.m. until 4 a.m.
I’m proud to say that Flexo and I were among the last four men standing. Well, we were sitting down at that point. I haven’t pulled an almost-all-nighter like that for years. It sure was fun hearing the alarm go off a few hours later!

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦2,453 (Dollar)

Oh, and I forgot to say: Anyone who is doing a PF blog or even *thinking* about doing a PF blog should sign up for Financial Bloggers Conference 2012 as soon as it’s announced. I will be. Unsubstantiated rumors that it will take place in Texas, stompin’ grounds of conference founder Philip Taylor of PT Money. Bless his heart.
Sorry about the cliche, but this could be a life-changing event. Some of the folks with whom I spoke said that it was. Also, there were cookies.

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avatar qixx ♦1,815 (Half-Dollar)

This month say the start of my new job. I was also involved in a car accident that caused some unplanned spending. Next month will likely see more incidental spending from the accident. Everyone in all vehicles involved came out fine. Since it was not my fault all the accident spending will be reimbursed. The concern is how long it will take to get these reimbursements back.

Assets $15,865.06
Liabilities -$37,576.38
Total -$21,711.32

Last month’s total -$22,068.38
Change since last month $357.06

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avatar qixx ♦1,815 (Half-Dollar)

Since i can’t find the October Balance Sheet here is my October update. Have gotten all the reimbursements from insurance on accident spending. Assets and Liabilities are both up because i did not get my Credit Cards paid before the end of the month leaving increased balances in my accounts.

Assets $16,534.59
Liabilities -$38,107.07
Total -$21,572.48

Last month’s total -$21,711.32
Change since last month $138.84

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

I like the new simplicity in your net worth calculations. I think it’s better to have a good overview of your net worth rather than drill down to every specific penny.

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avatar Perry

I’ve been tracking my net worth for the past 18 months or so and have been striving to perfect how I account for it. You noted that it’s tedious to account for household items and I agree.

However, what about taxes you might pay on your Retirement? Is your retirement in an a Deferred tax account? Because if so, you’ll eventually have to pay federal/state taxes on that money. Unless of course we abolish the income tax or we continually find ways to get rid of our tax liability. I know we don’t have a crystal ball and have no idea what the tax situation will be in the future but shouldn’t we make an estimate of this liability?

I’ve decided to add a line to my balance sheet called “Deferred tax liability” that reduces my Traditional IRA & 401(k) balance by 25% as an estimate. What do you think? Is this a more accurate picture of my net worth?

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