Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life's Greatest Assets

I recently read what I thought was a pretty thought provoking article over at The Simple Dollar called My Real Net Worth. Apparently I was one of the few that enjoyed it, the comments are pretty snarky. If you want an uplift, and aren't too offended by someone taking a bit of literary license with accounting terms, take a gander at the article. If you want to keep that uplift, however, don't read the comments.

His point is rather beautiful - while he can add up all his financial statements until the cows come home, it doesn't take into account all the things that are valuable in his life - family, friends and his support network. I've read a few bloggers writing about net worth statements lately. Personally, I don't keep one, at least not yet. I have three accounting/budgeting systems that I use on a fairly regular basis - my online banking, Mint.com and my own homemade budgeting spreadsheet - modified to my own personal quirks.

My net worth statement would include my assets against my greater debts, which essentially narrows right down to mortgages vs. housing prices and I pretty much know right where those are at. I do have other assets, a 401K and my car is actually holding surprisingly well in this market, but you get the idea... I have enough to track on the day to day stuff right now. Once things shape up a bit I may study at the bigger picture more.

I think the author of The Simple Dollar has a good point though - it is really easy to focus in on that bottom line, but at the same time, I have some wonderful assets in my life that cannot be measured on a spreadsheet. Oh, they might not be assets in the technical term - I certainly couldn't sell them, but they are things that make all this worthwhile...

For one thing, I have this blog. I don't ever intend to make much in the way of money off it, otherwise there would be a lot more ads. This is more for me - a forum for me to express my thoughts and ideas. However, from this simple electronic tool I have received so much of value - generous support, great tips and ideas and a community of people I respect. I heard something on NPR the other day that studies in Japan show that people who blog about their depression have a better time coping than those who don't - much because of the reasons I mentioned. I not only can believe it, but have seen it in my own life.

Another asset that means a lot to me is my family, particularly my sister and my mother. Both have been so supportive of me - not only that, but they have offered to loan money or give me a place to live if I needed it. I hope I don't have to take either of them up on it! Yet, it is so nice knowing I have that safety net. I've been doing okay, but life has a funny way of playing tricks on you - it is never a bad idea to have a Plan B! Besides all of this, both have given me items to sell on eBay, Amazon and Half. My mother even scored me some nice padded envelopes for mailing things out!

Then there are my friends. I am so very fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing network of friends! There are my close friends who have helped me move, let me cry on their shoulders, given me jobs, offered me help in countless ways, and even offered to come over and fix tropical drinks at my house! (I'm taking them up on that one as soon as my schedule slows a titch!) On top of that I have an extended network of friends that is as large as it is deep. Like my family, I know that if I were to fall - they'd rush in and help. I don't want to have to get to that place, but knowing I can means so, so much.

I have a nice steady day job, where my boss has been very understanding as I've been navigating through this whole pre/post divorce stuff. I have two part time jobs that help me pay the bills. You could put a price on them in terms of how much I bring in each month, but not in the satisfaction and enjoyment I get from these places.

Another asset that I have found is my new found knowledge. Not only have I learned a lot about finance and budgeting, but I also have a greater understanding of myself. I know now exactly what I'll do when my back is up against the wall!

I have my health. I have friends struggling with bad health and my heart aches for them. I have a cousin recently re-diagnosed with cancer. Being able to get up and go to my jobs without pain or suffering isn't something you can put in a column or add up, but I don't know what I would do without it.

Finally, I have peace. Yes, it may seem like this hectic life of mine is anything but peaceful (I just picked up a mystery shopping gig for Wednesday afternoon - that'll be three jobs in one day!) but in truth, it is peaceful. Before my divorce I was miserable. I couldn't find peace. Living on my own, it started come back, but I had the fear of paying for the house looming over my head. I can actually say that even though I still have occasional bad days, I have peace now - and it is priceless.

Photo by: elissabetha


Simplelivin' said...

I just read his post and agree with you, it really is a downer how people reacted to his post. How important is your net worth really? Over the past few months most people I know have "lost" thousands in their net worth, but if it's in the market and you never really had it, can you really lost it? Same with the value of a home.

Thanks for sharing!

Dawn said...

I agree Simplelivin'. When I see my 401K statements or the Zillow estimates on my house, well, all I can say is UGH! But as you say - what does it really matter, since I am not retiring or selling? There are so many other things of value that I really do have every day.

getting stuff done said...


LIfe is more than the bottom line. WHo can put a price on friends, family and health? If you didnt have those things, and you had loads and loads of money, how much would you be willing to pay.....

besides which, it is really what life is all about. friends and family and health and also intelligence and knowledge- you can sort yourself out cant you? Whatever happens.

Dawn said...

I'm with you Getting Stuff Done. Absolutely. In fact, being able to spend time with friends and family, having a life I can be proud of - those are all part of the reason I keep fighting and working on my finances.

Kristy @ Master Your Card said...

I haven't read Trent's post yet, but I'll head over shortly. It amazes me that people focus so much on money. That's like the post I wrote on whether or not debt controls you. Most people believe that getting out of debt is your number one priority and I disagree. I think it's important, but it's not the most important thing in your life. If it is, you may need to re-evaluate your relationships as you may be having some trouble in them. But, neither do I think that building wealth and a huge net worth is reason to forget the other "assets" in life, as you've listed in your article. Money cannot go to the grave with you. At your funeral, they're not going to talk about how much money you had or how quickly you were able to get out of debt. They're going to talk about how they knew you has a person. Were you loyal, caring, and generous? Or will they say you were cold, distant, and somewhat obsessive. Personally, I'd rather of the first set of adjectives.

Dawn said...

Kristy - exactly! I couldn't agree more!! This is something I have been thinking about lately - do you think people are looking for a "magic bullet" for happiness? That one thing - whether it be a size 2 waistline, a big house, being out of debt, having kids, having a fast car, etc. etc. will make them happy? I'm guilty of this myself occasionally. So, if you think that getting rid of debt will bring complete happiness, then it makes sense to make it No. 1. But, it won't - there will always be strife in the world. When you come to that conclusion it is easier to broaden your focus and see the other things in life. Hmmm... something to think on.