This post was originally published in early 2009, but brought to the forefront as I believe it’s one of the more important strategies for growing wealth.

For those of you who have been following my journey, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big believer in tracking and managing progress to help achieve desired goals.  I can’t believe I haven’t explicitly written about this strategy before as I’ve been publishing my net worth updates for several years now.

That is, if your aim is net worth (or any financial) growth, track and record it on a regular basis.

I started in late 2006 with a net worth of around $200,000 and it has grown over the years to approximately $960,000.  Tracking your net worth is like giving yourself a grade every month (or whatever interval you like) and helps keep your spending/savings for the month accountable.  The key is not to get down on yourself if you report a negative month, but to keep your eye on the long term trend and make adjustments along the way.

For me, just the thoughts of reporting my net worth publicly for hundreds of thousands of people to see keeps me focused on my saving, spending and investing habits.  As a result, I often think about ways to increase my income in conjunction with ways to reduce expensesthen sticking to my investment strategy.

How to Track Net Worth

To start, net worth is your (total assets) – (total liabilities).

Assets include:

  • Real estate – primary residence, rental properties.
  • Investment portfolios – RRSP/TFSA, non registered, pensions.
  • Business Value (if applicable) .
  • Cash – chequing, savings, GIC’s etc.
  • Tangible items – cars, collections etc.

Liabilities include:

  • All Debt – mortgages, line of credit, student loans, credit card etc.
  • Tax liabilities – business income taxation, large RRSPs, and/or capital gains owning.
  • Other Money Owed.

Net Worth Tracking Tools

There are many tools that you can use to track your net worth progress.  For me, I like to keep it simple so I use a spreadsheet to figure out the difference between my assets and liabilities at any particular point in time.  Here are some free tools that you can use:

Here is a free Excel based net worth spreadsheet that includes a nice looking pie chart.  This one is geared towards the US, but you can change the account labels to whatever works for you.


Net worth isn’t the end-all-be-all of financial status, but it’s a great place to start to see where you stand financially.  It’s not about what your number is relative to others, but that you are making progress in the right direction over the long haul.

Do you track your net worth on a regular basis?  At what intervals?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Since I purchased my house (almost two years ago), I have been tracking my net worth every time I get paid (every two weeks). It is nice to see my assets increasing and my liabilities decreasing on a regular basis :)

I used to track mine monthly until I lost about 40k in my RRSPs last year. Now I do it every few months as it is still painful for me to look at it!

I track my net worth everyday. I also track my expenses to the cent. Overall, it’s a choppy journey to $0.

We track our net worth on the first of every month. I have it all set up on google spreadsheets with the accounts across the top and the months down the side. I make a new sheet for every year and have been tracking since 2002. Like you said, it’s a great way to see the progress over the years.

I started tracking mine a few months ago, I got the idea from reading this blog actually. I track it monthly, the same as MDJ. I love seeing that upward trend on the graph.

Looks like this month will be a good one with the stock market rebounding so much in the past few weeks. Recession’s over I guess ;)

I used to use google as well, but I soon hit the 20,000 formula limit. Very frustrating. Now I am using editgrid. Not as elegant as google, but it does the job.

I used to track every 3months, but with my current situation it’s too complicated to track so I have stopped till the wedding.

FT, how do you estimate the value of your (or your wife’s) pension?

I’ve got about 2 years of credit in a defined-benefit (DB) pension plan through the Provincial government. The pension benefit will be 2% of salary (averaged over the best 5 years) x number of years of credit.

So I can estimate that right now my annual pension will be worth 2% x (salary) x 2 years, or 4% of salary. But that’s an annual income figure. How does that translate into an asset value? The only way I can see to calculate this is to use the cost of an annuity purchased at age 65 that would pay out this amount, indexed to inflation.


I use quicken to track my spending and net worth. I review the spending on a weekly and monthly basis, and the net worth on a quarterly basis

HI FrugalTrader,

What I am wondering is how did you start with ~$200,000 in December 2006. How did you get there from the point where you graduate from university? When did you graduated?

I am wondering how many years it took you to build that initial ~$200,000 and how did you do it.


We track monthly at the end of the month (although some accounts are slow to update their interest, so beginning of the month is probably easier). I’ve just made up an excel sheet. Allows for easy graphing and calculations (like pairing it to a mortgage amortization table etc.)

Starting to think the frequency is too high – so I’m guessing I’ll drop it to quarterly soon. Right now the only ‘fun’ from looking at it is the debt repayment. Whether or not the assets side of the equation grows or not, at least the debt continues to drop consistently.

I fully agree with this strategy and use excel to do this at least once a week . I do not include my home equity nor do I include my pension fund
which is being managed by CIBC .
I find this process is helpful in reminding one to stay discipline and keep to
their financial plan .
PS I think this web site Million Dollar Jourey is excellent and particularly
helpful . Thanks for your good work .
Best Regards

I update the sheets on google docs in the first week of every month. It’ll be a year in the fall that I’ve been doing it and that my wife and my finances have been combined.
I’ll be interested in the YOY growth numbers once we get to that point. Anything over 10% would be nice.
I also track debt to equity, home equity to overall equity, and other ratios.

The biggest influence on our net worth is the home and rental value. I could put in the purchase price for both, but the condo is worth substantially more and since it’s a rental is leveraged more than the original purchase price.
I could do that with the house, and it’d probably be accurate, but that’s only because prices have dropped at about the same rate that we are pouring money in to in renovations.
As it is, I check out MLS listings for comparables and take about 10% off a reasonable asking price.

I’d also like to add that using paid software like Microsoft Money or Quicken can really help you get the big picture of your financial situation.

Not to knock free financial tracking solutions but I feel that they’re well worth the price and you’re more likely to follow through and find value in using the software since you PAID for it.

If you own an iPhone, personal finance apps like Spend Lite (Free Version) or Pennies are nifty and intutive apps that give you a basic view of your finances as well.

I believe in periodic financial check-ups,….whenever I did it my financial health would steadily improve, and whenever I would let it slide, my finances would slip.

I used to check quarterly, like a business….I am going to start up again.

Also, like curious.rdr, I to would love to know how you got to your first $200,000 so early in life…..might be some great advice in there…

hehe, I tracked everyday because I have to :-( – Quicken only loads historical Canadian stock price for last 5 days so if I missed over 5 days I have to do it manually …

Personally, I am no where near having a good net worth.

But ever since last year, I accumulated huge debts I been tracking it with a balance sheet and it is nice to see the progress.


How do you calculate the value of your RE holdings? With the market what it is at the moment, have you adjusted the value of your RE to reflect market value +/- or are you basing it on original purchase price?

I believe QCash always bases his on original purchase price, which in his case is a low valuation.

I track monthly in Excel.

Just curious.

Great blog.

Personally, I find the net worth track fun, but pretty useless since the weekly, monthly or even yearly view is quite pointless and might cause panics or over confidence.

The expense tracking is probably more useful, but would only have minor effects to your net worth especially for already frugal people. Chances are reduce spending by 10% would be very painful. Since variable expenses usually only make up a very small percentage of all expenses, you will need to cut 30-40% to get that 10% reduction. Moreover, expenses makes up only a small percentage of your net worth, so in reality, a minor drop in the market would wipe out all the savings. It’s certainly better than nothing, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

I’ve been tracking my net worth monthly for about 20 years. I tried NetWorthIQ for a while, but frankly, it was sort of redundant, so i just keep doing it myself, usually early in the month, as soon as my brokerage statements are available online.

I’m with Archanfel – I just can’t see the point in putting in the time and effort for tracking net worth.

My biggest asset is the house – I have no control over the value of it and plus I can’t measure it accurately anyway.

Second biggest asset is rrsp and other investments. I can certainly measure this value but I don’t have much control over it. My annual contributions are only about 5% of the portfolio value so the market performance has a far bigger influence than any contributions.

Has anyone heard of United First Financial? I spoke with a representative at a trade show a few weeks ago. They were offering a net worth / debt management program that helped achieve debt reduction faster. I was intrigued until they told me the software program cost nearly $5000!!! They said “But we can save you $200,000 in interest costs. What is the return on investment?”

I also got the inclination it was a multi-level sales scheme. Anyway, just thought I’d put the warning out there for everyone.

Bravo to you FrugalTrader! You show that it CAN be done and serves as inspiration for those on a similar path. Even more than a journey, it is a lifestyle. Always stay the course!

Tracking net worth can be psychologically motivating for some people as they see that number rise over the years. For those who don’t see the point in it, it probably isn’t worth it. For those who find it motivating, it can be a great tool.

For those who like to track their expenses, I really like I use it regularly. The charts and grafts are great. I like that I can see how much I spent in groceries each month or total by year with the click of a button. I also like that it’s free!

I have been tracking my networth for a while as well.. In addition to income/expenses as well.. It’s great fun to get a firm grasp on your financial situation, by increasing your knowledge as much as possible.

I think tracking networth is very important – it lets you know if you are on a reasonable path towards your goal – if you don’t have a goal, then you’re in trouble.

I’m curious how many people also track expenses to the dime?

I’ve been an avid Quicken user for over a decade. While not perfect, I find using it in conjunction with Excel to be the best way of managing my family’s finances. As for the free online tools like Google Docs – I have no interest in keeping this level of personal information out there. I’d only consider if the account was completely anonymous, along with the data stored there.

As for Quicken, what I find of particular value is the reporting – the ability to slice and dice all my investments and quickly see my ROI and IRR. Using the information provided by my discount brokerage statements wouldn’t provide anything close to an accurate picture of how my investments are doing and I think Quicken is easier to manage than a spreadsheet for this.

At the end of the day, my family’s net worth statement is only ever a click away if I need to see it.

I use Excel only for tracking ACB on my non-registered holdings and RRSP/RESP/TFSA limits/contributions as well as my current/target asset allocation for rebalancing.

I think tracking networth is very important – it lets you know if you are on a reasonable path towards your goal – if you don’t have a goal, then you’re in trouble.

Sampson, that is an interesting comment. I agree that goals are good but I guess what I don’t see is why net worth is a valid goal?

Just for example – what if FT reaches his million $$ net worth and $800,000 of that is his principal residence and the remainder is investable assets – has he reached his goal?

What if his house was only $250k and his investments are worth $750k – is that better than the first scenario?

It all depends on the goal. I think what I’m getting at is that “net worth of XX$” is not specific enough. It’s kind of like saying “My goal is to be independently wealthy”.


Independently wealthy isn’t a detailed enough goal. Perhaps having a passive or dividend income of XXX$ per year would be more quantifiable.

I agree that net worth is not valid by itself as it could hide unusually high RE values that are not liquid.

I like having multiple metrics. For example, debt to equity, which is a common one for corporations. Also Real Estate Equity to Total Equity. You’d want that ratio to be low. (Or RE Assets to Total Assets). Debt to Asset ratio.


I am not on a reasonable path towards my goal. My net worth drop by more than 5% in both Jan and Feb. What can I do? Probably nothing. It can be argued that I should increase my weight of equity fund to try to make up the difference, or it can be argued that I should lower my risk profile to avoid future losses, but I think both are counter productive. Contributing more is neither practical nor helpful. I rebalance once a year and that’s probably the only thing I can do.

I track expenses to the cent. I am totally going over board with this. For example, I can give you a graph of the gas price in Toronto over the last year. I can tell you exactly how much I drove between fill ups. I can tell you that the apples in the supermarket close to my home went from .59/lb to .99/lb. I can tell you I got $93.39 in my wallet without checking it (I just checked, it’s actually $93.40 since I forgot to record that I picked one cent up in the parking lot the other day, damn!). However, in the end, it’s only for fun. The only thing I can cut back is probably food since I eat out a lot, that costs about 7% of my total expense (Taxes being the biggest drag). The only expense I do not track is investment losses (I track it through my net worth). Unfortunately, it tends to be the biggest expense these days.

FP, I certainly agree that networth may not be the actual metric. But by compiling networth statements (I guess it would be equivalent to balance sheets compiled annual by a company) you are forced to itemized/categorize each element.

Different metrics for different specific/defined goals (e.g. need $500k in income generating investments by retirement).

But I think what the networth statement does allow one to compare the relative importance of each line item.

Say goal #1 is to have my house paid in 12 yrs. – and that’s priority
Goal #2 is to have $200k more into RRSPs by that same date.

By monitoring the balances together, if the RRSP plan is ahead of schedule, I can divert money into paying off the home or vice versa.

I do feel like I get the sense of your original statement though. The bottom line networth number is simply a number to make you feel warm and fuzzy or depressed. But even in that I find value because as Kathryn mentioned, that feeling alone can be a great motivator.

Archanfel – impressive re: the spending. We used to do the same (and I do for my car) but it got really tiresome. – now we just have a cutoff valve. So we put $1500/mo. on our credit card (includes utilities etc). If in Jan we spend $2000, then Feb will be a $1000 month.

Poor immigrant parents teach a thing or two about being cheap.

With the highs and lows of the last couple years, house value has been a bit of an issue for net woth calculations.

While neither is perfect, you could look at comparable listings on MLS or maybe the value stated on your property taxes?

Just an FYI to all readers – a fantastic website that I use for both american’s and canucks alike is – it sounds like porno but trust me this site with its’ both Canadian and American easy to use java-based wealth calculators are a true asset for the penny wise!


I track my net worth EOM every month. My goal is to increase 1% each month. So far this year I have been getting higher than 1% each month, so I have some wiggle room if I have some bad months. I do not want to be stressed if one month I do not hit the 1%, but I want to make 12% over the year.

We track on 6 month increments, and do track our daily spending (though our efforts are to track every $90 / $100, it gets tricky with auto payments and other stuff.

The only thing I’m currently trying NOT to track is how much my 5 year fixed rate mortgage at 4.95% is costing me versus if I’d taken the Prime – .8% I could have gotten in 2007 but I do consolate myself by knowing that however much it sickens me to pay this interest it would have been far worse if interest rates had kept going up (like they did for most of 2007). And to break out is to pay a massive fee that is more of a gamble than anything, better to take advantage of prepayment options.

I set it up in Excel and update it monthly. I’ve been doing it since 2007. It’s interesting to see the graphs at the end of the year. I can spot the month which I should have sold my investments but didn’t. I also overlay each year to see if there are any particular trends that appear year after year.

tracking your net worth is a very good way of getting your finances straight. i’ve been doing that since i’ve graduated from college (which was less than a year ago) but so far, it’s helped me to see where i’m at financially.

tracking your net worth as often and as prescise as some people on here do can make you sick with money constantly on the mind. I myself know my networth on any given day without any software, not down to the penny but close enough.

Knowing were your money is going and how much is coming in is important but having money on the mind too often will take away what is truly

I find the monthly tracking best for me. I do this for more than 10 years.
The perfect tool is Excel – simple, but powerful and flexible.

I love that you did this. It is such a simple concept, but must be overlooked so often.

RE: Novice and Mortgage

The amount banks charge to break a mortgage (early renewal in most cases) can vary significantly. I assume you have checked with your bank to see what your fee would be. There are 2 equations used – one is 3 months interest, and the other is a more complicated one based on the interest rate differential (both formulaseasily available online).

In a lot of cases I’ve been reading lately, and also witnessed firsthand, the banks completely waive the break fee. This is often dependent on how persuasive you are, how hard you are able to lean on them, how good a negotiator you are. At one major Canadian bank in the last couple of weeks, I have 2 friends who in separate cases broke their mortgage and went 5.01 to 4.25 and 4.91 to 4.15, without paying a penny. I also early renewed this week, but was not able to get my bank to waver on the break fee. The fee was less than $2000, but I will still save over $1000 net over the next 3.5 years that would have been locked in at my old rate. Plus, my new 5-year term extends my protection from rising rates by another 1.5 years. So for me, it was worthwhile to pay the break fee, and early renew. It might not be the case for all – especially dependent on getting a favourable break fee, or waiver of the fee.

Back on topic: I also track our net worth monthly in Excel. Handy tool to observe the trend. I also track expenses/income to the penny every month (copy and paste from online statements), to see what the net cashflow for the month is. I also do a budget projection for the coming year late in the previous year, to get a sense for the cashflow by month. I spend quite a bit of time on this projection to make it as accurate as possible, and things always track pretty well. We don’t live within a budget per say, but we definitely as a team know the difference between needs and wants and use money accordingly. There are months where expenses might be projected to be just less than $3000, and we’ll make an extra effort that month to stay under that milestone.

So FT here’s a question. Are you still on track to hit your $1million net worth goal or has the last year killed that?

I’m just curious because my net worth has been going down lately, but due to other factors in my life I think my goal to retire at 45 is actually getting easier now than a year ago. So how married are you to that goal or is it just a rough goal?


I track my spending on a daily basis using Microsoft Money.
My net worth is only a click away!

I have been tracking our finances monthly using Excel for over 5 years. I keep a rolling spreadsheet (it’s massive… 700k and growing) that has all years’ data, has year-to-year comparisons, keeps an annual budget and compares variances. I have a 10 year budget goal set up (not to the exact expense, but an overall net worth goal) that our progress is tracked against. The spreadsheet is massive and cumbersome and unless you’re very Excel inclined and a nerdy accountant like myself, you’d become lost in the myriad of data tables.

I track our family’s expenses similar to how a business tracks theirs. Income statement, balance sheet, depreciation of assets, etc. This gives me assets, liabilities and net worth. Loan payments are split in to principle and interest portions (interest is expensed, principal comes off the liability). Asset valuation is done conservatively, especially for real estate (purchase price, though I will add an annual adjustment if prices have fluctuated significantly). My wife and I review expenses every month and compare to budget and highlight areas where we have variances. It’s never something to feel bad about, but as a team we are goal oriented and this allows us to identify areas where we are deviating from this goal. I find that it is very easy to allow the little things each month build up to become a big thing and not even realize you’ve spent $500 on extras. I believe a lot of families have this occur and without tracking it diligently, you will arrive at the end of the year and wonder why you fell so far off budget.

Very interesting, reading such an article is very very motivating and I’m certainly looking forward to computing my net worth. I personally finished school with some debt but got a lot more into it in the first few years of school because of a lot of travelling, I don’t regret of course, but I’m glad now that I’m getting back into saving more, with lots of plans to increase and all the momentum in the world.

Thanks for the great post!

I calculate my net worth once a month (but not exactly on the same day). It never goes up as quickly as I planned, but it keeps me focused, and it is gratifying to see it go up steadily (albeit slowly).