As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

Personal Balance Sheet, August 2011 ($368,817, -2.6%)

This article was written by in Monthly Update. 7 comments.

Almost every month since July 2003, I’ve been reporting my month-end financial reports on Consumerism Commentary. This reporting started as a way to hold myself accountable as I attempted to improve my finances through earning more and spending thoughtfully while saving and investing for my future. Somewhere along the way, the website became not only a way for me to learn more about personal finance, but to share my thoughts with an audience, and a hobby turned into a passion, and the passion turned into the driving force for the last few years of my life.

I’ll share my number for August 2011 soon, but first I wanted to mention that I announced the finalists for the Second Annual Plutus Awards last night. I created the Plutus Awards to bring more attention to the amazing personal-finance writing, whether educational, entertaining, or both, published outside of mainstream media. These awards also allow the community of expert personal finance bloggers to express their opinions about the best financial products and services on the market. This can, perhaps in a small way, guide the industry in the direction that best suits the public. I’m happy to say Consumerism Commentary is a finalist for several categories, and I want to encourage readers to vote for their favorite personal finance blogs. The winners will be announced at the Financial Blogger Conference on October 1.

In terms of my finances, there was not much out of the ordinary during August. I spent some money on a new camera lens, but I’m still having trouble finding time for photography. My investments performed poorly during the month, leaving my investment balances lower despite adding to the accounts. In today’s report, I corrected last month’s numbers. When I sold a good portion of my former employer’s stock in July, I forgot to list the proceeds as cash rather than an investment.

I’m working with my accountant to make sure I am taking an official salary from the business this year that will allow me to maximize my Individual 401(k) investment. I’ve been contributing both an employer and an employee portion every month.

Now that I’m not including my business assets in the balance sheet that I post to Consumerism Commentary, the reports don’t tell a complete story of my financial worth. I can take cash from the business if needed, reinvest it for the business, or leave it in business bank accounts. As a result, looking at just the personal portion of my net worth makes it easy to manipulate the numbers; if I wanted to reflect a 2.6% increase this month rather than a 2.6% decrease, I could have moved more cash from a business account to my personal account. I try to transfer as little as possible, but as some have suggested, it may be more wise to leave as little in business accounts as possible.

Continue reading to see August’s numbers.

-1 year -1 month current Δ Δ Δ
ASSETS Aug 2010 Jul 2011 Aug 2011 Prior Mo YTD Prior Yr
Cash in Banks 63,970 82,724 79,157 -4.3% 28.1% 23.7%
Investments 42,440 34,879 36,170 3.7% -27.6% -14.8%
Retirement 143,430 262,954 253,001 -3.8% 37.2% 76.4%
2004 Honda Civic 5,173 4,073 3,973 -2.5% -16.8% -23.2%
TOTAL ASSETS 255,012 384,630 372,300 -3.2% 23.7% 46.0%


Credit Cards 5,962 5,929 3,483 41.2% 62.1% 41.6%
TOTAL LIABILITIES 5,962 5,929 3,483 41.2% 62.1% 41.6%

PERSONAL NET WORTH 249,051 378,701 368,817 -2.6% 26.4% 48.1%

Change Over Prior Month -4.0% -0.2% -2.6%

Change Over Prior Year 12.1% 46.0% 48.1%

This month, I’ve started reducing my quantity of savings accounts. I often open new accounts to review for Consumerism Commentary, but having small amounts of cash in so many different banks is not very convenient to manage. It’s a good thing I don’t list balances by account in my net worth report posted here; that would be too cumbersome for online reporting.

I’ll skip the line-by-line commentary this month because there just isn’t much to tell. The only major expense was the new camera lens. In September, I’ll be researching travel options to visit my family on the west coast in November for Thanksgiving. In fact, traveling is on my agenda; I have a quick trip to Miami next week, a trip to Chicago at the end of the month for the Financial Blogger Conference, and potential Thanksgiving travel in November.

Published or updated September 1, 2011.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Luke Landes 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 Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Donna Freedman

Thanks for creating the Plutus Awards. It was an honor just to be nominated. :-)

Reply to this comment

avatar 2 qixx

This month ended up with about half the expected income for my wife’s business. No income from teaching. No income from my side business. In addition to that i paid for some training at the start of the month and the first of 3 certification tests during the month. I am now a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. I’m working towards a Microsoft Certified IT Professional designation. This was spending i knew i did not have the funds for. The day i passed my first exam i had an interview for a better job that i was offered and will start soon. While the training and tests went onto a credit card that won’t be paid off without interest, I’m glad i made the investment in myself.

Assets $15,888.13
Liabilities -$37,956.51
Total -$22,068.38

Last month’s total -$21,862.26
Change to last month -$206.12

Reply to this comment

avatar 3 Luke Landes

That’s great news about the job offer, qixx! Thanks for sharing your update!

Reply to this comment

avatar 4 Anonymous

qixx, Congrats on the new job and new knowledge! You may have already thought of this, but this may be a good time to put that credit card debt on a 0% Balance Transfer credit card.

Reply to this comment

avatar 5 qixx

Most of that debt is in student loans. I expect to be at a zero balance on all my credit cards in February. With most of the cards having a 3% balance transfer fee that cuts my potential savings to $25 or less. There are some i’ve found with less than that 3% but not on a card worth adding to my rewards structure. For that little of a savings i don’t want to add a card i don’t want to keep.

Reply to this comment

avatar 6 Anonymous

As of August 2011 you show Credit Card debt as your only liability of $3400. Where is your home mortgage balance and if you don’t own your roof what about the balance of your lease? Do you own a car? What’s the balance of the car note?

You can pay off your credit card balance with pocket change—-so are you asserting you have no liabilities whatsoever?

Reply to this comment

avatar 7 Luke Landes

It’s hard to step in years after the fact, unfamiliar with the through-narrative, and expect to catch everything. Many of these items I didn’t address every month because readers were familiar with the situation at the time. I’ve addressed all these questions before, but since you’re just stopping by for the first time, I can understand why you’re bringing this up.

There is no car note. It was paid off years before.

There’s no need to track the balance of an apartment lease as a liability on an ongoing basis. I don’t include it in this calculation, and that’s pretty standard for a personal balance sheet. For example, another liability not normally tracked on a personal balance sheet is tax liability. I’m carrying investments that have some kind of tax liability for the taxable securities, bonds, and funds in and outside of retirement accounts. My electricity bill is a liability that builds each month as I use power until I pay (last month’s) bill. There’s no need to track these liabilities when the purpose of these reports is to evaluate financial progress from month to month. Are they still a part of an accurate, complete net worth calculation? Perhaps, but I don’t particularly care.

The credit card balance is paid in full each month; the fact that a balance is included on the report is a result of the timing — the balance is never really zero, but there’s no interest, no ongoing liability in the form of a carried balance.

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.