Net Worth: Why and How to Track It (Free Printable Tracker)

A funny thing happened to me this week.

Let’s start from the beginning. I left my old job in August 2016 to prepare for teaching abroad. Last week, the payroll & benefits manager from my old job hit me up on LinkedIn.

Something told me on Wednesday to actually read the message.

She asked for a new address for my 401K benefits.

I’m thinking, “I don’t have any. I rolled over everything into an IRA before I left for China.”

So I rushed to Fidelity’s website, got my username, reset my PW and “SURPRISE!” $1,060 was waiting for me! WOOT WOOT!

In March 2017—a full 7 months after I left—the company put another lump sum into the accounts of employees from the previous year. I HAD NO IDEA!

After calculating my net worth in October, I knew I needed to pay off, at least, $1,713 in loans to finally break even.

With this newfound money, I recalculated. My other investments went up enough that I finally became NET WORTH-POSITIVE. Ya girl is worth $13.83, as of November 6, 2019. Got a long way to go. My 20s were a mess!

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Overall, I’m pumped! I remember a day when I thought I’d never get to $0. The increase is due to shifting my mindset and habits and hard work.

Since January 2017, my net worth has turned around by almost $38,000! I can’t wait to see it climb higher.

So why am I so geeked about this number?

What is net worth? 

Your net worth is a snapshot of your financial situation at the time. It is the sum of your assets (what you own) minus your liabilities (what you owe). The goal is to always have more assets than liabilities—own more than you owe—to have an increasingly positive net worth.

Click here to get the net worth formula and more.

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The Ultimate Goal-Setting Checklist (Free Printable)

You can’t get anywhere without clear, specific goals. Here’s the ultimate guide to writing crystal-clear goals that will help you improve any area of your life: career, financial, physical.


13 Tips to Making Awesome, S.M.A.R.T.-er Goals

Get crystal-clear and start crushing your goals with this checklist.

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  1. Is it your goal—not someone else’s goal or expectation?
  2. Does it have a strong, emotional “why”? In Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says all thoughts which have been emotionalized (given feeling) and mixed with faith, begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent or counterpart.
  3. Is it specific?
  4. Is it measurable? For example, $100 each month for 12 months or 3 workouts a week. Anything that’s tracked usually grows.
  5. Is it attainable? Reach and dream, but understand what you really need to do or have to achieve your goals.
  6. Is it relevant to your values or a bigger vision? This goes back to your “why”.
  7. Does it have a deadline? Giving yourself a deadline helps you reverse engineer your goal into smaller, easier-to-comprehend pieces. For example, if you want to save $1,000 in 6 months in a vacation sinking fund, then you need to save $167 at a minimum each month. Also, Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. Time management is largely psychological. We naturally pace ourselves to finish a project in the nick of time, for example, clean the whole apartment in 90 minutes. So giving yourself a deadline could subconsciously make you complete your goal on time.
  8. Is it written on paper or typed? You become 42% more likely to achieve goals just by writing them down on a regular basis, according to a psychology study from Dominican University.
  9. Is it somewhere you can see it every day?
  10. Did you share it with another person? An American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) study found you have a 65% chance of completing a goal of you committing to someone.
  11. Did you list specific tasks you must complete to achieve the goal?
  12. BONUS: Is it written in the present tense? In No Excuses, Brian Tracy writes: “Write them down in the present tense, as if you have already achieved them.” For example, replace “I will earn $100,000 a year by 2021.” with “I earn $100,000 a year by December 31, 2020.” These goals activate the law of expectation and law of attraction, Tracy states. He believes your subconscious mind is only activated by goals that are stated in the personal, positive and pretense tense—the “3 P’s.”
  13. BONUS: Did you list potential obstacles and how you plan to overcome them? In Exponential Living, Sheri Riley writes “Preparation is the key to getting through the NOs, and getting through the NOs is the key to victory. Preparation equals expectation. To prepare is to have a plan. That means thinking about the obstacles you might face ahead of time, and having contingency steps ready to implement when those obstacles arise. You will face obstacles; the key is to not let those obstacles come as a shock to you. … if you mentally prepare for obstacles and have a plan in place for dealing with them, you’ll be able to remain engaged.”

Click to read more about goal-setting.

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6 Things I’m Glad I Unlearned About Money

Thank heavens for enlightenment! When I think about how ignorant I once was about money, I cringe. My face scrunches up like something stinks. 

Here are 6 things I’m so glad I unlearned about money. Can you relate?

1. Budgets are the devil.

Dang! I can’t believe I was really in these streets without a budget. 

Budgets are liberating! Budgets are bae!

They’ve been the foundation for everything good in my life—saving thousands of dollars, paying off over $25,000 in debt, funding my $6,000 teaching certification and paying cash for international trips. 

Once I got a budget, I stopped living just to pay bills and started achieving my goals. My “anti-budget” helps me reach short- and long-term goals while still having some fun. Get a free printable to start planning your next paycheck and your life. 

2. YOU Must be rich to save, invest or crush debt.

After reading how regular folks with regular jobs became wealthy in The Millionaire Next Door, I understood that saving, investing and debt elimination stems from the habit of managing money you earn, not just the amount of money you earn.

An annual salary of $100,000 is “rich” to me. Someone banking $100,000 a year could be spending $150,000 a year. Little ol’ me, making less than half of that could have 10 times the net worth of the other girl because of careful planning, taking action, persistence and discipline. 

Click to read the 4 other money myths.

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How to Negotiate Salary: 4 Expert Tips For Women (Video)

If you’re like me, then you were never taught how to negotiate salary by your teachers or parents. Negotiating or asking for a raise evokes a host of emotions. For months, it made me cringe. 

But I read an awesome book (get your copy here), talked to other teachers and got the nerve to ask for a raise from a private tutoring client. 

I’m learning so much from this process. You probably could, too.

I asked Dorianne St. Fleur of to grade my approach and give tips on how us, ladies, can negotiate salaries. Dorianne is an executive coach for ambitious women of color ready to become powerhouse leaders and experts in their industries without losing themselves in the process. She is a wife, mom and veteran HR professional who’s been regularly making six figures.

Dorianne has helped herself and dozens of clients land their dream jobs and increase their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars. In 2017, she helped me decide between three teaching positions here in China. The position I chose boosted my income and quality of life, and accelerated my debt payoff.

Get into the video to catch these gems! 

How to Negotiate Your Salary or Pay Raise

Negotiation Tip No. 1: Get your mind right. 

“There’s this mindset shift that needs to happen even before the conversation about negotiation,” Dorianne says.

There are certainly issues with pay inequality that stem from large, systematic problems, she says. A white woman gets paid 77 cents to every white man’s dollar, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black women earn 61 cents and Latinas just 53 cents. But women can also perpetuate the wage gap by doubting themselves and failing to negotiate their salaries, Dorianne says. 

“Get your mind in the right spot,” the career coach suggests. “If you don’t own your value, if you don’t truly believe that you’re worth the money, why would your employer believe it?

Click to read the other 3 negotiation tips.

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How to Use Brag Binders for Job Interviews and Salary Negotiations

*This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission that could help me on my debt-free journey —at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase using the links.

The term “brag binder” seems self-explanatory, right? Put all the good stuff in one place so you can easily show it to your boss or potential client. It’s no different than photographers having an online portfolio of their best shots. Would you hire a wedding photographer without seeing their work? Exactly!

But I didn’t have a brag binder at my last job. I didn’t really tout my accomplishments on LinkedIn—the digital brag binder—either. And guess who never got a big raise. Me. Guess who never got a substantial promotion. Me, again. Maybe adding this one tool to my arsenal could have helped me earn more to slash debt.

In her book, Real Money Answers for Every Woman: How to Win the Money Game With or Without a Man, Patrice C. Washington gives excellent tips on how to get over yourself to earn more money. When explaining how to negotiate a higher salary, Patrice suggested showing your value with a “brag folder.” So what do you put in it?

  • positive reviews
  • notes of appreciation
  • thank you cards
  • awards
  • certificates

I re-read the book over the winter and immediately started keeping my 

accomplishments and praise in a folder.

“Your goal is to become crystal clear about what qualities you bring to the table, so you can learn to articulate them effectively,” Patrice writes. “You don’t want to appear bratty or cocky, but you do want to make sure that you’re not ashamed to toot your own horn when and where it’s appropriate.”

She says the brag binder does two things:

  1. It boosts your self-esteem and helps you be confident walking into an interview or salary negotiation.
  2. It makes sure you’re armed with the facts, so the meeting isn’t an emotional conversation. (“I deserve a raise. I just do. I’ve been here 30 years.”)

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 1.25.41 PM

I recently interviewed for an internal promotion with a nice raise. I went a step further with my brag binder by taking into account the interview rubric. The man with the power to promote me wanted examples for each of the eight criteria:

  1. building relations
  2. entrepreneurial spirit (doing what needs to be done before being asked)
  3. customer orientation (satisfying customers)
  4. functional/industry knowledge (continuous learning and applying that knowledge to get good results)
  5. results orientation (setting goals and actively working toward achieving them)
  6. fostering teamwork
  7. developing others
  8. managing resources (being efficient with human resources, time, money and other materials like paper and ink)

Every hiring manager in the world is probably using the same barometer for measuring a candidate’s potential. Consider examining yourself to see what grade you’d get in each category. But I digress.

I pulled out my brag book to play Show and Tell with him. When he asked, “How have you fostered teamwork?”, I showed emails, texts and meeting agendas I created.

“Have you mentored other teachers?” I showed detailed notes and suggestions I wrote from observations.

“What projects have you lead at school?” I showed him the whole process of an iPad story writing competition—from training other teachers to emceeing the awards ceremony—and presented some of the students’ work.

The interviewer let out a few “Ohs” and “Ahs” while flipping through the pages. I think my interview ran longer than the others. Good sign, right?

I hadn’t done a physical portfolio in so long. I’m glad I took Patrice’s advice. When I left, I saw a coworker stand up with nothing in tow. These physical examples might give me a leg up in the hiring process. I’m hopeful.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 1.13.30 PM

Did I use a special binder?

Not really. I useda 30-pocket display book that’s ubiquitous in China. My school had already given it to me, so I didn’t buy anything.

What did I include in it?

  • cover letter
  • blog posts I’d written to help other teachers (shows expertise in your industry)
  • emails from higher-ups congratulating me on a job well done
  • emails and text messages (print-outs of screenshots) showing collaboration with coworkers
  • posters I designed to promote sign-ups for extracurricular events
  • PowerPoint presentations I create for the iPad competition training and the awards ceremony
  • examples of my students’ work
- agendas for meetings I lead (shows organizational and leadership skills)

How did I organize it? 

I put my resume and cover letter in the front. I tried to place examples in the order of the rubric. And I also put like things together, so the whole process for the iPad story writing competition was in one section.

How could I improve the brag binder?

Quantify. Quantify. Quantify. I could have dug deeper to find an instance where I saved money or increased profits with my ideas and execution.

How could you use the brag binder?

Show case studies. Everyone loves to see before-and-after, rags-to-riches or ugly-duckling-to-swan stories. That’s why we binge-watch home makeover shows and go gaga over #TransformationTuesdays posts about weight loss.

So tell a story about how you improved some aspect of your business. The case study should clearly state (1) the initial problem, (2) list the solutions you thought of and the reasoning behind it, (3)  how you implemented those solutions and (4) the results. Did you make communication more effective? Did you reduce costs? Did you eliminate redundancies? Did you increase profits? By how much?

Web designers could show how they turned a crappy website into a masterpiece, bringing in 200% more lead generations for that company.

Teachers could show old test results, methods they used to improve the students’ grades and understanding, and new test results.

Financial coaches could show their client’s busted budget and the budget they helped them create. They could say “On average, I help my clients save $500 a month after budget consultations.” Now, that’s something!

Don’t be afraid to show a company or employer what you’re made of. They want to see results. A brag binder is one way to do that.

Here are links to more explanations of brag binders:

Have you used a brag binder or portfolio to get a salary or a new job? How did it go? Please share your tips below.

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