Welcome back to Dividend Dollars and to the New Year! This monthly update is where we will see the fruits of our labor. All the smart spending, saving, regular investing, and dividends earned will all add up over time and make this number steadily increase. At least that’s the goal!
You may wonder “why not just watch and evaluate the stock portfolio”? We do review and evaluate the portfolio regularly on this website (read our most recent portfolio update here). However, the answer to the question lies in our website’s tagline: “Finding Reliable Financial Freedom”. Having financial freedom means different things to different folks, but for me it means being able to live the lifestyle that I want to live without needing to worry about money because my money generates passive income that I can live off of.
In order to have your money work for you, you need to do more than just invest it. You need to be responsible with it. What good is a stock portfolio that provides you with a regular cash flow when that cash flow is eaten up by bad debt, interest owed, or poor spending habits? Calculating your net worth is a great way of checking in on that difference between your assets and liabilities in order to understand how responsible you are being with your finances. The more responsible you are, the easier it will be to reach financial freedom because you’ll be reinvesting dividends, you’ll continue to save money, invest it in your portfolio, you’ll build passive income, and you’ll prioritize paying down costly debts.
December 2021 Net Worth: $128,355.17
Woohoo! We hit the $125k mark! We increased our net worth by 8.18% from last month with a gain of just under $10k. As you will see further in the post, much of that increase is thanks to the appreciation of my house in this crazy market. We increased the size of our dividend portfolio by 43.6% this month with some fun adds to positions. However, that capital came straight from my cash balance and is up 2% for the month, so that is not a significant impact to my net worth. As the dividend portfolio grows, ages, and compounds that is where we will see the real net worth gain in the future.
Now that we know where we’re at for the month, let’s dive into how Net Worth is calculated. It really is a simple formula; it is all of one’s assets less all liabilities. The answer to that formula gives us a solid understanding of where we stand financially in this moment. Tracking your net worth regularly also helps you know if you are trending in the right direction. It does not, however, give any information into how you got to that number, but we will explore that pursuit in other articles throughout this website.
Below is my calculation broken out.
This is the total value of all of my assets which includes my home, investment accounts, and a few other various assets. Total assets grew by 2.03% this month. Below are all of the individual assets that make up that total.
Home: $428,400 – 2.12% Increase on last month
In February of 2021, I purchased my first house at the age of 23. The house had appraised for $350,000 but through a lucky situation and some very clever negotiating help from my mom (thanks mom), I was able to buy the house with a sales price of $335,000. Zillow currently, estimates the house is worth $428,400 which is where I pulled my value from. That is a 22.4% appreciation on the appraised value in less than a year! Even if I were to not use the Zillow estimate (which is fairly accurate) and instead used the appraisal value from time of sale, my net worth would be $49,955.15.
Cash: $5,311.07 – 19.94% decrease on last month
This value is the sum of my savings and checking accounts. I use this cash for paying bills and making purchases. My goal with the cash value is to slowly but surely increase it to an amount that can cover all of my living expenses for 4-6 months so that if a disaster (say loss of a job or a medical issue) were to ever happen I would have ample money to pay for expenses while trying to get things back to normal. We did not do well with growing cash this month, but due to the holidays and traveling that was to be expected
Dividend Portfolio: $3,637.03 – 43.64% increase on last month
The first account is my Robinhood account which is where I am housing the dividend portfolio that is tracked and experimented with throughout this blog. Currently the dividend account up 4.37% since starting Dividend Dollars.
I know that the trading community hates on Robinhood for their controversial part in the WallStreetBets situation, but I like to use it because it is the simplest and easiest platform to access for a straightforward dividend account. We won’t be buying and selling stocks often and Robinhood’s interface makes it super easy to track your dividends and your portfolio’s capital gains. If you do not yet have a broker account set up, I recommend starting with Robinhood. Feel free to use my referral link and we will both get a free stock.
My goal is to invest over $100 a week into the account and have been blowing that goal out of the water most weeks. This last week we put in $145 on some good buys! Read about those purchases here.
Acorns Portfolio: $547.73 – 39.44% increase on last month
The second account is my Acorns account. It is currently up 3.09% since starting Dividend Dollars. I have used Acorns for years as a way to automate investing and it is a cheap and reliable way to do so. My Acorns account used to be pretty substantial and had nearly an 18% gain right before I withdrew the funds for study abroad expenses a few years ago in college. I have since reopened it and am auto-investing every week.
It costs $3 a month (it is free to students), you can set up recurring investments and invest your spare change through auto-roundups in order to easily take advantage of smart dollar cost averaging on their selection of diversified portfolios. Acorns is a great way to start investing on top of using your broker for your personal portfolio. Again, feel free to use my referral link which gives us both a free $5 dollar investment into an Acorns portfolio of your choosing. I deposit $25 a week and have purchase round ups invested into their aggressive portfolio.
Abra Crypto Portfolio: $224.23 – 8.56% increase on last month
The third account is my Abra Crypto account. I started this account last month and have grown it by about 8% this month through my deposits and interest.
To be honest, I am a little intimidated by crypto currencies due to a mistake I made with a previous crypto account that cost me about half of a $10k gain. It was such a dumb error on my part! After that I took a step back from crypto but am interested in getting back into it. Abra seemed to be one of the most straight forward crypto apps and I really liked their interest-bearing accounts.
Using their platform, I buy and hold crypto currencies in an interest-bearing account and earn anywhere from 3-9% on interest depending on the currency. This interest is paid out weekly. Due to a recent promotion that I was able to catch, the interest on my account is also temporarily boosted by 5%!
Abra seemed to me like an easy way to take advantage of compounding interest and gains on the crypto market! I am depositing $25 per week into the account and am excited to watch how it performs. If you would like to use the app, feel free to use my referral link and code RCL33PVGS which gives us both $25 in CPRX (loyalty token rewarded for being active with the app) after you fund the account with at least $15 and hold it for 30 days.
Retirement Accounts: $3,291.44 – 3.56% increase on last month
My retirement account is provided by my previous employer. I had contributions set up to both a Roth IRA and a traditional 401(k). I focused on selecting low-cost funds and ETFs for these accounts in order to most efficiently appreciate my contributions. I recently started a new job and am not eligible for their retirement plan till 60 days on employment, therefore this number will stay stagnant for the next few months except for market movements.
Other Assets: $8,055 – 5.22% decrease on last month
Under the other assets category, I will sum up the value of all items I own that could be readily sold. My vehicle, which is paid off, is my only other asset with value that hasn’t already been listed and it is slowly depreciating in value.
This is the total value of all of my liabilities which consist of one large debt and a few other smaller debts. Total liabilities decreased by 0.22% this month. Below are all of the individual liabilities that make up that total.
Mortgage: -$318,780.23 – 0.21% decrease on last month
I generally follow financial responsibility guidelines set by people like Dave Ramsey. These guidelines include paying off all debt, having an emergency fund, investing a percent of household income in retirement, saving for large future expenses, paying off your home early, etc. I stick to most of these rules, all except paying off the home early.
With mortgage rates as low as they are, I believe it is more beneficial to invest extra funds rather than put those extra funds towards paying off the house early. If I can earn a profit on my investments greater than my 2.65% mortgage rate, than that money is better off being invested elsewhere.
This isn’t to say that I won’t ever put any extra funds towards my mortgage, I do plan on paying extra when situations like job raises and bonuses occur. I also round up my mortgage bill to the nearest hundred dollars and have those extra few bucks paying off the principal owed. However, for the most part I plan on making my regular mortgage payment.
Credit Card: -$270.84 – 662% increase on last month
This is my Chase Freedom Flex card which I pay off in its entirety every month! However, because of holiday and travel expenses, some of those charges still show as pending on my card and can’t be paid off just yet. Hate to see it! But $270 is not a bad balance to carry by any means.
Garage Door Loan: $3,641.45 – 7.01% decrease on last month
The last liability I have is a new one from last month. My garage door started malfunctioning last month and its panels were badly cracked. I had the door, opener, tracks, the whole system replaced and upgrade. The garage door company offered me 0% interest financing if it is paid of in a year. Because of the 0% interest, I decided to treat this expense as an upgrade to the house and selected the highest quality door and opener they could offer! I had my first month’s payment and will have this sucker paid off in a year.
It’s Simple Math
Now take the total assets and subtract the total liabilities and that is how you get your net worth. $451,047.67 for my assets minus $322,692.52 for my liabilities equals a net worth of $128,355.17 for the start of January 2022. Overall, I love seeing the net worth increase a little and I hope I am able to continue doing that month over month.
This was a great month and year. The net worth went up by over $20k since starting Dividend Dollars back in October. The appreciation of the housing market really keeps my net worth looking good, I hope that this year we see more substantial gains from the dividend portfolio as it begins to age and compound. It takes a lot of time and we are only getting started!