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Net Worth Update: From -$400K to +$400K in 14 Months

I must admit, I’ve been behind with my net worth update. (Here’s the last one.)

The plan for Selenid and me was to update our new worth every 3 months. However, it’s been almost 9 months since the last time we calculated our net worth!

I realized this a few weeks ago and set aside 20 minutes to fix this.

And we got a huge shock (in a good way)!

Our net worth increased from -$412,000 in June 2020 to +$410,000 in September 2021!

I optimistically hoped that we would find our net worth had neared or crossed the “0-line” to go from negative to positive.

So seeing this huge increase was an amazing feeling.

It has also served as an illustration and great reminder that creating a following simple, healthy financial habits really makes a HUGE difference.

Related Post:
The Simple Habits That Will Make You Financially Successful

That’s even the main reason that we track our net worth update. Remember, net worth is your personal finance scorecard. So by studying the scorecard, we can see what is helping and hurting us. Then, just do more of what helps and less or what hurts.

Just 14 months ago, we were in a huge financial hole

In fact, our financial situation at the end of my training is the worst I’ve seen.

And I mean that.

I have yet to meet someone starting off in a worse spot. And don’t get me wrong, I started off so bad 100% because of my own doing – poor financial decisions and even less knowledge. I was scared to learn and intimidated by my mistakes. More on that here.

And that’s a big reason why I started this blog. To show that if I can do it, so can you!

What I think makes our relationship so special is that I am right on the same journey along with you.

I make mistakes. And then sometimes I make good decisions. Just like all of us. But we are in it together!

Anyway, what I would like to do is share an analysis of my net worth update to show you all how we made this massive change in our financial health and well-being!

Net worth update

As always, I promise to be totally transparent!

Let’s first look at my net worth trajectory since I started tracking it in June 2020 at the end of my training and the beginning of my financial education.

net worth update

Let’s hit some of the major points:

  1. Yikes, when I first started tracking my net worth update, things were bleak. In fact, this doesn’t include when I first, first did a rough check in Spring 2020 and it was >-$520k. I hated seeing these numbers. But it gave me a starting point so I could work to make them better.

    Moral of the story? Personal finance is scary at the beginning. But looking the big bad monster in the face is the best thing you can do! You’ll realize it actually isn’t as scary and difficult as you thought and can start making positive changes!
  2. You can see that I increased my net worth by a large amount before I even received my first attending paycheck in mid-August 2020.

    Here’s how.

    I point this out to show that no matter your situation, you can improve your net worth. Even if you are not looking at a big increase in pay like I was going from a trainee to an attending.

    In fact, here are 5 steps to increase your net worth right now.
  3. From October 2020 to November 2020, this is a big jump in net worth. This happened after we bought our first investment property and forced appreciation on it.

    I always say that real estate in a wealth accelerator. This is proof. More on that property and its cash flow here.

    Related Post:
    A Physician’s Guide to Real Estate Investing
  4. After that, a looonnngggg break before another net worth update check.

    Hey, life happens. Things got busy. We were still making the right financial moves but sometimes part of it takes a back seat. And that’s ok.

    Life is about balance and counterbalance. It’s never perfect.
  5. But after that last check in September 2020, we crossed the fabled red line of $0 net worth and got into the positive!

    Way into the positive actually…

How I increased my net worth by >$800K in 14 months

Here are my assets and liabilities:

Some of these numbers are obviously estimates, like our household items. I kept this on the conservative side.

Also, this is a snap shot in time. That’s our cash and savings at that moment. Also at that moment, we had $5,000 on a credit card that we will pay off completely at the end of the month.

Here are graph formats showing the same information:

net worth update

The key to building wealth is to maximize assets and minimize liabilities. Let’s see how we are doing…

Let’s start with assets

Our biggest assets are our primary home and our investment properties.

Now I know, I am totally on the side of saying that your primary home is not an asset. And we don’t treat it that way. But we do include it in our net worth calculations.

Investment properties on the other hand.

They have made a HUGE impact on our assets. Through cash flow and forced appreciation resulting in home value gains of near $100,000 for each of the 3 properties, this has been the single biggest positive influence on our net worth.

And this doesn’t even count the tax benefits.

Here are insider looks (with full numbers) of investment properties #1, #2, and #3.

Retirement savings is a relatively small 4%. But this is a huge improvement over the previous 0%.

Related Post:
5 Reasons You Need to Max Out Your 401k

The rest are relatively small potatoes.

Moving on to liabilities

Again, our biggest liabilities are the mortgages on our primary home and our investment properties.

But…

Notice that our primary home is about a wash when comparing our assets and liabilities. It counts as 42% of our assets and 41% of our liabilities.

Meanwhile, our investment properties count 50% towards our assets and only 28% towards our liabilities!

That, my friends, is the power of leverage!

Lastly, student loans remains a big part of my liabilities. That is why, each month, we pay huge amounts from our 43-50% savings rate to pay of my student loans. Each $1 we pay off is $1 that our net worth increases. Here’s my debt pay off strategy.

It also helps that we have no auto loans or other consumer debt. This is because we pay for every big purchase in cash after we have saved enough. Or we pay on our credit card to get points and then pay off the entire balance at the end of the month (or else the points aren’t worth it!).

The bottom line

This is why looking at your net worth helps.

You can analyze and see what you are doing. You can pick out the things that are making it better. And choose to do more of those things.

You can also pick out the things that are making it worse. And choose to do less of those things.

Here are the major take-aways:

  • Calculate your net worth – it’s your personal finance scorecard (there are tons of online calculators to use)
  • Review/analyze your net worth at least a couple times a year
  • Maximize your assets (things that put money in your pocket)
  • Minimize your liabilities (things that take money out of your pocket)
  • Create and follow your financial plan so you can put things on auto pilot and enjoy your life! (Use my template here to create your own.)

What do you think? Have you ever checked your net worth? Do you update it regularly? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

    4 thoughts on “Net Worth Update: From -$400K to +$400K in 14 Months”

    1. Hi! I enjoy reading your blog and am impressed with your drive to build your blog, practice and brand. However, it is really hard to read this article when it easily could be (accurately) rewritten as “young surgeon takes on massive debt load—$1.6 million—and has less than $100k in retirement accounts”. I very much hope that the real estate trends continue and property values continue to go up and vacancy rates continue to stay low but I would encourage a slightly more muted celebratory tone until you are better hedged against market risk.

      Reply
      • Hi James, thanks for reading! I am biased (obviously) but have to disagree. My approach as laid out in my financial plan calls for a balanced division of my 45+% savings rate – roughly 1/3 to debt, 1/3 to retirement accounts and 1/3 to real estate. It happens that real estate has had the biggest impact thus far however I have increased my net worth significantly by paying off ~$100K of debt and increasing my retirement savings by ~$75K in one year.

        And one last important point, yes my real estate investments are leveraged with mortgages. But, these are debts that I am paid for. This is done by buying cash flowing properties with a CoC of 10% or greater (My 3 properties are all above 20% CoC now). The increase in appreciation is due to forced appreciation, which is based on how my real estate business is running and cash flowing, NOT on market appreciation which is a gamble. In fact, the housing market could crash (not that I wish this) and my business would continue to cash flow the same regardless.

        I fully support your recommendation to be diversified. This is something I continue to plan for. Thank you again for sharing!

        Reply
    2. What about your massive income that you bring in yearly from your work ? Shouldn’t you be discussing that with the readers so that they would get a reality check as to what they are looking into.

      Reply
      • You’re right! I make a lot from work as an attending plastic surgeon. But actually your income doesn’t factor in anywhere on your net worth calculation. It’s how you turn that income into assets. Make $1M and spend $1M and your net worth is $0. That’s the misconception that we need to stop propagating.

        I’m very open about all aspects of my financial situation and appreciate you reading!

        Reply

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