Net Worthiness

Something that's been bothering me for a while is the term “Net Worth”.

People say “My net worth is $xxx,xxx.”

I even say it, at the end of every monthly status report. My net worth is _______. I even wrote a whole post when my net worth tipped over the $100k mark.bmew

Wikipedia says Net worth is used when talking about the value of a company or in personal finance for an individual's net economic position.

Is that what we've reduced ourselves to? Counting up the money we've hoarded, subtracting any debts, and saying that's what we're worth?

Because I know I'm worth far more than some numbers.

I'm a staunch friend. A loving sister. The super fun auntie. I'm a great girlfriend when in a relationship. A dutiful daughter. A person who likes to lighten up the moment with a wicked comment under my breath. I'm pretty good at softball. I'm passionate about my hobbies and interests. I love the crap out of my giant floofball kitty cat.

A number can't convey that. I can barely convey all of that in a picture. Maybe not even a slideshow. (Unless it were to be a really long one and let's face it, no one should have to sit through a slideshow like that.)

I'm lucky the amount of money I have outweighs any debts. I worked hard to come out of college debt free and land a good job.

Does having a negative amount of money mean you're less as a person? OF COURSE NOT.

Let me say that again in bold just in case you skimmed over that last line.


My net worth is who I am as a person to those around me. Not the money I've saved up.

Therefore, my monthly status report will not include the phrase “Net Worth” anymore. Instead, I will be saying Cash Stash. Because to me, that's a more accurate term. You can't calculate what you're worth to other people. You can count how much cash you have stashed away.
Anyone else share my sentiments? What common phrase bothers you?

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28 thoughts on “Net Worthiness

  1. I think net worth is deceiving anyway. Your net worth is what you *think* your assets are worth minus your liabilities. A lot of people are totally delusional on what they think their assets are worth – or will be worth – one day.

    We still watch our net worth on Personal Capital, though. I just want to make sure it’s moving in the right direction.

    • Haha true! My car is priceless to me, but I doubt other people would pay what I want for him. Now multiply that across all my stuff and you could very easily be off in order of magnitudes.

  2. Definitely support this terminology phrase, Gwen. But I’m one of those weirdos who hates labels and thinks that it needlessly boxes people in when we use a lot of them.

    Our worthiness really shouldn’t be defined by how much money we have. I’m still on the fence about sharing my current number on an ongoing basis. I think it’s relevant for transparency, and also because sharing it lets other people support and encourage you to keep going, but it’s also pretty personal information.

    I don’t want to be defined as the guy who has XYZ cash built up. I also don’t want my level of cash to influence my potential connections. I want people to like me for me.

    It’s tricky.

    Thanks for sharing.
    TJ recently posted…It’s OK to Leave Money on the TableMy Profile

    • I like numbers so I can use them as a benchmark. Not to compare, just to see what other people think they need. It’s also a bit surprising to find out someone you thought was in one stage is in a completely separate stage.

  3. I guess it is a little troublesome using the word “worth” here. People are always worthy, no matter how much money they have. But I do think net worth itself is a useful financial tool; it’s all about eliminating debts and building a positive net worth. That means you’ll have funds to actually live off of during early retirement instead of letting the bank rob you blind! 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What a Frugal Weekend!My Profile

  4. I love the term “nest egg”. It is far more flexible in what it implies than “net worth”, while mostly having financial implications without implying that one’s worth is the sum of their financial assets minus their financial liabilities. Also a nest egg is super cool to have while not being a “trust fund”.

    • Nest egg is good too! For some reason that always makes me think of those commercials aimed at traditional retirees……. And I agree – having your own money is way cooler than getting it handed to you (not that I’d say no if someone wanted to bequeath me a large sum of money lol)

  5. I like this! Totally agree on “net worth” being a slightly condescending way of assessing ourselves based on just a number of dollars we have.

    Another term that needs to change…”RETIREMENT”! It sounds so outdated. Makes me think of an old house and sitting in a rocking chair waiting for the inevitable end. Perhaps a good alternative is “Freedom”, because ultimately, all we want is – freedom from and freedom to. “Financial Independence” is another good one, but doesn’t sound interesting enough to the uninitiated.

    I wish this stuff was properly covered in schools! Maybe more people would make better decisions in life. I would have been so excited if a speaker came by and said, “YOU are a prisoner of society, I’m going to show you how to get your freedom.” I would have been so interested! “What craziness does this stranger speak of? Tell me more!”

    Anyway, I’ll start using “cash stash” from now on! 😀

    • Agreed! People think I’m just going to be a huge couch potato (probably not) and not do anything productive with my life, when in reality i’m planning on being even more productive! Thanks for commenting!

  6. Net worth that includes real estate is subject to change as I sadly learned this summer. Even though zillow said our house was worth 473, our only offer was for 415. I had to update our home value in Personal Capital which brought our total net worth down. Now that the offer fell through, I don’t know what to put. Totally agree that you are more than your $$ though there has to be some way to measure.
    Julie @ Millennial Boss recently posted…How to Hide Pinterest Images in Your Blog PostsMy Profile

    • 🙁 Ouch. That’s a huge difference. Kinda goes back to what Holly was saying in her comment. At least you have a renter now so you’re not bleeding money profusely anymore!

  7. There is a whole slough of financial verbage that means nothing unless you spend hours on investopedia and you’re absolutely right, Net Worth one of them.
    It’s another one of those terms that are easy enough to use in conversation but misrepresent our real values. Just months after leaving my 9-5 job, I remember things I did in the interest of my career and making mo’ money, that damaged relationships with people in my life – people who cared about me that I didn’t spend time with, or coworkers who could have been good friends but who I kept at arm’s length. It’s so obvious now that my family and friends are what really matter to me – no amount of “net worth” can replace them!

  8. That is an interesting perspective. The term has never bothered me (though I just happen to not use it on my blog). When I read this piece, I asked myself why not. I think it is because my brain automatically maps it to “the amount of money someone has” and never breaks it down into the actual English words and what they might imply. I mean, I guess for me it could be called “oobledooby “instead, and once I had learned that term, I would automatically map it to it’s meaning and not even hear how weird “oobledooby” was any more.

    Writing that has made we kind of wish it was called “oobledooby” instead.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Mega Savings from the Mega Backdoor RothMy Profile

  9. I’d second Mrs. Bita’s comment in that I’ve never attributed any meaning to the term beyond monetary. To me it’s always just meant, the net sum your assets – your debts, pretty cut and dry. I don’t particularly care what term is used, so long as everyone is in agreement with what it means 🙂

    Cash Stash could easily just mean the cash you’ve got stashed away for a rainy day, or a market correction 🙂
    Oobledooby is great since there’s obviously not historical baggage associated with it, we just need to get everybody using it 🙂

    • Student loans SUCK. You guys are rockin the debt repayment plan though. And, as a lawyer and a dentist, you guys earn more money in one year than I’ll earn in 3. Once you pay that off, your savings are going to take off! I’ll be excited to see that happen!

  10. Totally with you on this! And I can personally attest to many of your great “net worth” qualities. 😉 The other big piece about “net worth” as a measure is that it’s completely a point-in-time metric, but people with a big number flaunt it like it is absolute. Someone with a small monetary net worth now could very well have a big one later, and vice versa. Like, sure, our number is big these days, but I’m sure every single FIRE blogger in their 20s (ahem, that’s you) will be waaaaaay ahead of where we are now by the time you’re our age.
    Our Next Life recently posted…Financial Independence Is a Good Goal, But a Bad GoalpostMy Profile

    • I’ve noticed the FI blogging community is pretty good about not flaunting their numbers, but I’ve heard others do it IRL. Nobody should be made to feel bad because they have more money than someone else.

  11. Hm, really, I have no issues with the term, it’s just a financial term that means the net total of your assets after you subtract your liabilities. Also I’ve never associated my money status with my self worth. Those are two totally different things. How we use it and approach it is more important than what it’s called, and how we approach life and what we do with THAT is far more important than how much money you have.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Just a little (link) love: otterly adorable editionMy Profile

    • Unfortunately, I see a lot of people who do conflate the two. I totally agree though, that how we approach life and what we do with that is far more important than how much money you have. Some things are worth more than you could ever pay!

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