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No More Figures in Net Worth Posts

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I’ve decided to stop divulging hard numbers in my “Net Worth” series of posts where I publicly track our progress towards financial prosperity. The reason why I started the series was because other personal finance bloggers were putting their net worths out there and I felt like it was the cool thing to do – and it was. Had I not been so public I wouldn’t have had the honor of appearing in the New York Times, quite possibly the coolest thing that has happened since starting this blog, but I feel that the usefulness and “cool” factor of posting a net worth has been exhausted.

If you’re struggling through debt, posting the amount of debt you have gives you motivation to work harder at paying it off. As you pay, you watch that number shrink. As you pay, your readers celebrate your one step closer to debt freedom. But who celebrates when Random Joe Blogger adds another X% to his net worth? I know I don’t really care and I’m pretty sure no one else really cares either.

What people care about are the things you did, not the amount you saved, and so my monthly personal finance updates will now focus on any personal finance related decisions I’ve made in the last month and not on the dollar amounts. Do you think it is a mistake? Do you welcome this change? Do you not really care? Please share your thoughts!

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36 Responses to “No More Figures in Net Worth Posts”

  1. i’m new to the whole personal finance blogging community, but personally, i’m sad to read about your decision. the candor some bloggers have about their numbers make it so much more real for me. most pf articles use percentages and/or “imaginary” figures based on “if you started with $1000/$10000/etc., and while i appreciate the direction of the advice, its always easier to relate to when you’re looking at something real. and that realness is what motivates me — to see that other people are succeeding (based on real numbers, and not generalities), whether its eliminating debt or amassing positive net worth.

    the calculators i’ve seen lately say that i’ll need $4mm by the time i retire to live according to my current lifestyle (to paraphrase). let’s just say that’s a loooong way from where i am now. =P seeing how others progress gives me hope. =)

    that all being said, i can understand and appreciate your decision. selfishly though, i hope others don’t follow suit. =)

  2. Flexo says:

    Ah you must be earning too much from your website and you don’t want us to know. :-)

  3. I’m about 2 months from reaching networth $0. I’m going to stop using hard numbers after that as well. I feel that it reveals too much.

  4. JM says:

    For me, the numbers provide a differentiator between the blogs and the articles out there. So many blogs simple regurgitate the CNN, MSNBC and Yahoo finance articles. While the extra commentary is nice, I find that many blogs don’t add much to the article. The net worth updates and real $$ figures however add something that I can’t get from just pointing my RSS reader to the above sites. My $.02 ;)

  5. Enoughwealth says:

    I think that the NW figures are still nice to see from those PF bloggers who have “made it” – because you can see if the strategies they are posting about are actually working out.

    For instance, if blogger A is posting about trading CFDs and making a killing, and blogger B is posting about investing in idex funds and doing nicely, which strategy is actually working out?

    If you can see that blogger A increased his NW by 10% last year and bloger B increased his by 14%, and blogger B has a NW of $1.2m whereas blogger B has a NW of $50K you have a much better idea of who is posting a load of BS (assuming that you can believe the NW figures!)

  6. I agree completely with the previous comment. I really don’t like blog posts that are regurgitations of some mainstream article with the blog author’s comments added in. To me it feels like an artificial way to increase your post count in an attempt to increase profits at the reader’s expense.

    Meanwhile, I do enjoy seeing people’s progress. Anyone can talk personal finance, but how are they applying it? I think that you are right about people caring more about what you did than the actual numbers, but the numbers are the best way to show how those decisions affected you.

    Personally, my site was started as a way for me to track my own net worth progress towards a goal, so the net worth updates play a primary role, and it has nothing to do with being a “cool” thing or not. But, the comments seem to indicate that people are interested, at least a little. They like to compare and contrast with their own progress.

    Are you making a mistake? No, I don’t think so. It’s your blog and you should write about whatever you want.

  7. PR says:

    I agree with JM. I would also like to add that while your personal finance decisions qualify you, the numbers help -quantify- you. Posting numbers helps the reader evaluate who their role models will be. Personally, seeing the bloggers that were doing well gave me far greater motivation than those still paying off their debt.

  8. NCN says:

    Thanks for the mention. I talk about various goal numbers, and talk a bit about my salary, etc. As for “Net Worth”… it’s such an arbitrary number anyway, with the estimates of property values, etc. Frankly, I don’t pay much attention to any of the net worth posts… I just skip over them… unless the author points out a particular area of achievement. (I’ve learned from the NCN Network that so many people are at such different places… there’s really no reason to compare…) I mention amounts only when they are relevant to the actual discussion at hand…

  9. CPA1298 says:

    Jim – I think that maybe over time you’ll actually miss posting net worth, due to a possible lack of focus on your financial performance after you quit posting. Personally, I really wish you’d keep posting your progress, no how much you accumulate.

    Also, I am profoundly jealous of the fact that you are making serious money off your blog. Personal finance is one of my biggest hobbies, yet I never have gotten around to blogging; I guess I’m intimidated by the technical aspects of it.

  10. Matthew says:

    I’m disappointed to here about the change and hope you reconsider. I find that the net worth posts are particularly useful for finding bloggers who are in a similar situation as myself. I don’t think anyone considers it bragging when the “high net worth” bloggers discuss their monthly performance. These are the people who we should try to emulate. Don’t hide your success behind a veil of modesty!

  11. mapgirl says:

    I agree that a lot of PF blogs are just regurgitations. Donna Jean at Weight of Money recently had a post about keeping Personal Finance blogs personal. I think taking your net worth off depersonalizes your blog a little, but don’t dilute your sparkling personality from your blog and it’ll be fine.

    I also see NCN’s point that net worth itself isn’t so important as those day-to-day decisions are. It’s just a number to keep track, but your minutiae of spending is really the key to wealth accumulation.

    Net worth is a quick way to assess things and compare to others. I like seeing it on other people’s blogs as a benchmark, performance measure, goal to strive after. I have mine up, but I’ve thought about taking it down. It’s just a number and the number I’d rather focus on is my credit card debt or my emergency fund. At first, I just liked having the graph on my blog because I’m very text focused. If it’s lost its flavor like a cheap piece of chewing gum, put it on the bedpost and chew it again when you’re ready.

  12. Posting your networth is an invitation to being sued, especially if you’re “giving” financial advice. Be careful with this. That’s why I’ve never done it.

    - Bryan
    http://www.BryanCFleming.com

  13. Personally I like blogs that post net worth figures. It’s inspiring to see those climbing out of debt, but for me, it’s even more inspiring to see those reaching significant financial goals.

  14. I have never posted my personal finances because too many people know who I am. If I were 100% anonymous, I would have no problems divulving all our financial stuff. In a way I envy those bloggers who can post their secrets.

  15. Matt says:

    Net worth is an artificial statistic of limited utility. It’s cool to track one’s progress through time, but a given person’s net worth is only really useful for comparing to past or anticipated future values of that same stat for the same person. Liquidity is more important in day-to-day finance, and savings rate (the first derivative of net worth) is the only thing that offers useful comparisons between people.

    So no, I don’t have any objection to you no longer posting the hard numbers. Although “it’s none of anybody else’s damned business” would also have been a perfectly good reason. :)

  16. Oh, and FYI, I don’t read the net worth posts either.

  17. I don’t agree with the decision. One of the factors that really appealed to me was the fact that people were otherwise quite open about such things. Too much of US/UK treats money as if it were a dirty secret, yet secretly many people envy the rich… That’s too double faced for my taste.

    It can certainly be vulgar to be inappropriate in discussing your financial situation, but on PF blogs, that is quite acceptable. Also, there are few if any rules about ‘how’ you should report your NW anyway on a blog.

    But I think the biggest reason, is that you can record people’s path to success, failure or indifference by recording a record of NW. Such a path can only be considered suitable by comparison with what went on before (ie. as a kind of ‘historical’ record). I don’t think that comparison with others will, except in aggregate of thousands of people’s records, really bring much fruit, as everyone’s incomes, assets, debts, situations are so different, that comparisons less useful.

    Perhaps a quarterly update would be fine, as an encouragement to those who are following in your footsteps. But don’t give it up just yet.

  18. jim says:

    I’m curious, of the ones who disagree with this decision and are bloggers themselves, how many of you divulge your net worths on your blog?

    Also, I’ll still be keeping track of the progress, I just won’t be keeping you all updated on it. :)

  19. Actually, I don’t track networth, it’s not the purpose of my blog. I do track other stats, though, with numbers and percentages. But it’s only been one month.

    Kenneth

  20. bluntmoney says:

    I like seeing net worths, especially the ones where they explain how the changes occurred. It does motivate me to see someone’s net worth going up, or to see someone with a significantly larger net worth than me. And heck, I’ll admit it, I feel better when I see that maybe I’m doing better than some other people. But I think posting it or not is a personal decision. (And I post mine.)

  21. CK says:

    Jim-
    I’m not reading your blog anymore unless I know down to the penny how much you’re worth.

    -CK ;-)

  22. Amanda says:

    I agree with JLP. I’ve never posted mine either, and the main reason for that is because I’m totally non-anonymous. For one thing, people I know personally and work with read my blog, so I don’t really think it’s appropriate. Additionally, it makes me a little uncomfortable to think that some weirdo could be reading my blog, see that I have $X in a savings account, and try pull a fast one on me…

    But that’s just me! I think your blog is very valuable, with or without the networth postings.

  23. Flexo — too funny. That’s what I thought too! ;) Just kidding. I like net worth posts personally but I’m sure it’s boring for a lot of other people. I realize though that the world is interested in this because I get a disproportionate number of google searches on my net worth related type posts.

    What I’ve done is to compromise: write about the net worth or other such analysis in the context of something hopefully more meaningful to readers. Here’s my money but here’s what I did to get there…etc may be helpful. Some concrete information may help put things in perspective for some people. I don’t use absolute figures though, for obvious privacy reasons.

  24. samerwriter says:

    I did the same thing about 6 months ago. My reason for not posting net worth figures was because I got a few “creepy” emails from people, and just decided that the payoff (my blog has earned me a whopping $30 over the last year) wasn’t worth any associated risks.

    I also think that net worth is much more dependent on circumstance than on specific investment strategies. An extra percent or two return isn’t going to make the difference between a million dollar net worth and someone who isn’t making much progress at all.

    I am considering starting to post graphs of net worth, without any numbers. I think it may be “inspirational’ to some to see how, after many years of saving, one’s net worth can finally start to go “exponential” (grow on its own rather than linearly through contributions).

  25. Mark says:

    I think the reason is your pulling in a lot of money from this website and you don’t want to rub that in the faces of people reading your blog. People come to blogs like this to get ideas from people who have been successful at meeting the goal that they also want to achieve. It will be hard to celebrate your increasing net worth when you’re only advice will be to create your own blog and watcht the money roll in.


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