What is Net Worth

What is Net Worth

What is net worth is important to individuals, business owners, and entrepreneurs when applying for a financing.  In fact, the term net worth is what most, if not all, bankers, financial investors, mortgage brokers, venture capitals, government lending agency, and other loans managers consider the ultimate number when determining whether a loan will be approved or declined.

Net worth is what the difference is between total assets and total liabilities.  What is the net worth if assets total $600,000 and liabilities equal $370,000.  In this case, net worth is $230,000.  As you read on, you’ll discover net worth is more complicated then this.  

Net worth consists of a number of variables.  Firstly, a lender will want to know all the assets you own.  For the purpose of the net worth, assets can be separated into two categories; namely, current assets and fixed assets. The assets will appear in the order of liquidity which simply means the order in which the assets can be sold quickly or transformed into cash.  Current assets are more liquid than fixed assets and therefore appear higher up on net worth.

 Cash is the most liquid asset since it’s already in the form of cash.  As a result, cash will appear first under the current assets section of net worth. The next, most liquid current assets, include stocks, bonds, accounts receivable, life insurance policies (cash surrendered value), retirement funds/plans, and other marketable securities, to name but a few.

 The next part of net worth involves compiling a listing of fixed assets.  Fixed assets are economic resources which have a useful life longer than one year.  Fixed assets of net worth include items such as computer equipment, automotive, house, other properties and real estate, household belongings (furnishings, washer, dryer, refrigerator, range, marketable antiques, marketable paintings, etc), buildings, land and machinery, to name a few.  The sum of current assets and fixed assets is called total asset. 

 The next consideration for net worth are liabilities; namely, short term liabilities and long term liabilities.  Short term liabilities consist of debt which is due within a one year period including income taxes, accounts payable, credit card debt, and other loans/debt due within a one year period. 

 Long term liabilities are the next items required for net worth.  Long term liabilities include debt which must be paid beyond a one year period such as a two year bank loan, deferred income tax payable, deferred credit card debt, automobile loan, five year bank loan, mortgage on house, and other mortgages payable. It is important you consider all debts as part of your net worth.

 Current liabilities plus long term liabilities will equal total liabilities. 

 As mentioned above, net worth is what the difference is between total assets and total liabilities.   Let's look at some situations to help you better understand what is net worth.

 What is Net worth under these situations?  Total assets equal $500,000 and total liabilities amount to $300,000.  In this case, net worth is $200,000. 

 What is net worth if your current assets amount to $50,000, fixed assets amount to $450,000 and current liabilities total $75,000 while long term liabilities total $625,000.  In this case, net worth is negative $300,000.  Under this situation, a lender most likely would not extend further credit.

 What is net worth if you have assets valued at $900,000, liabilities of $1,200,000 and a 50% ownership in a venture valued at $800,000.  Net worth under this scenario is $100,000.  That is, $900,000 less 1.2 million plus $400,000 = $100,000.

 Below shows how to organize net worth into a table.  It relates more towards a personal situation opposed to a business related one.


Current Assets
Cash                                                          $  10,000
Stocks                                                           25,000
Bonds                                                            20,000
Retirement funds                                            75,000
Total Current Assets                                   $ 130,000


Fixed Assets
2012 Automotive                                        $   20,000
Household Property and contents                    500,000
Total Fixed Assets                                       $ 520,000  


Total Assets                                               $ 650,000


Current Liabilities 
Operating Line of Credit                              $  10,000 
 Credit card 1                                                  9,000
Credit card 2                                                   4,000
Retirement investment loan                              1,000
Other Short term bank loan                              1,000
Total Current Liabilities                               $  25,000


Long Term Liabilities
Automobile loan                                         $  15,000
5 year Bank Loan                                           10,000
Mortgage on House                                       400,000
Total long-term Liabilities                           $ 425,000

Total Liabilities                                          $ 450,000


Net Worth                                                $ 200,000



As discussed, net worth is what’s remaining after liabilities are subtracted from assets. In the above case, net worth is $200,000 ($650,000 - $450,000 = net worth of $200,000).  Meaning, if all current assets and all fixed assets were sold, there would be enough cash to pay the short term and the long term debt.   Furthermore, the net worth estimates that $200,000 cash would be remaining or left over after the sale of all the assets.


Obviously, a positive net worth is viewed as favorable when applying for financing.  In essence, the lender or financial institution is more comfortable lending money to someone or a business whose assets outweigh their liabilities. 


Notice in the above net worth, an asset can also be a liability.  For instance, the household property and contents has an asset value of $500,000 while the mortgage on the house has a liability value of $400,000.  As a result, the equity or net worth of the house alone is $100,000. 

Another situation where an asset may also be a liability occurs when you have a car loan.  In the above scenario, the car is valued at $20,000 which a loan owing of $15,000.  As a result, the net worth on the car alone is $5,000.


There is a situation, however, where you may have a positive net worth, but unable to secure financing due to one main reason.  Let’s use the following net worth situation to explain.



Current Assets
Cash                                                       $     5,000
Stocks and bonds                                          25,000
Total Current Assets                                 $   30,000
Fixed Assets
2010 Automotive                                      $  12,000
2011 Automotive                                          22,000
2011 computer system                                   1,000
Household Property and contents                 300,000
Total Fixed Asset                                     $ 335,000  
Total Assets                                            $ 365,000
Current Liabilities
Credit card 1                                          $   70,000
Credit card 2                                               40,000
Retirement investment loan                           1,000
Other Short term bank loan                           9,000
Total Current Liabilities                           $ 120,000
Long Term Liabilities
Automobile loan 1                                  $  12,000
Automobile loan 2                                      23,000
Mortgage on House                                  150,000
Total net worth long-term Liabilities        $ 185,000
Total Liabilities                                      $ 305,000
Net worth                                           $   60,000
In this case, the net worth is $60,000 which can be viewed as respectable.  A closer look, however, reveals the current liabilities are 4 times larger than the current assets ($120,000 versus $30,000).  This means, if the current assets were sold, there would not be enough cash to pay for the current liabilities. A lender likes to see a net worth having current assets valued at twice as much as current liabilities.  Meaning, if the current assets were sold, half of the remaining assets would be cash.  The higher the current assets are relative to current liabilities indicates a better net worth and thus, reduces a lender’s or investor’s risk.
In this situation, net worth is the result of the equity appearing in the property or home.  The property is valued at $300,000 with only $150,000 remaining on the mortgage.   As a result, the net worth on this asset alone is $150,000.   That said, the lender may suggest the applicant remortgage their property and use the proceeds as financing.  Depending upon the amount of financing required, however, a lender will view this net worth and application as somewhat risky mainly due to the credit card debt.  Furthermore, an investor may view such high credit card usage as frivolous purchases which may be the trend with new borrowed funds.
Some lenders reviewing net worth generally want you to provide appraisals on the larger priced items such as buildings, homes, and specialized equipment.  For a vehicle, you could simply look up the book value.  Also, the net worth should include the age, make and model of all significant fixed assets.  Such detail provides the lender or investor with concrete data which can be better evaluated when reviewing the value of net worth.  
If you are married or in a common law relationship, net worth always includes the assets and liabilities of both parties.  In essence, both members of the household are responsible for the assets, the communal liabilities and the monthly expenses.  
What is net worth if your assets equal $300,000, your common law partner’s assets equal $250,000, you have no liabilities and your common law partner has liabilities of $600,000?  In this situation, your net worth is negative $50,000.  Surprising net worth, isn’t it.  
Other questions a lender will ask as it relates to net worth are:  
Have you every declared bankruptcy?
Do you have any outstanding claims or pending lawsuits?
In the past, have you ever had an asset repossessed?
Do you owe any taxes besides the current year?
Never embellish or inflate your new worth.  Doing so, will only affect your creditability and hinder the chance of acquiring funding. 
Owning a business or having a part ownership in a company is important to net worth.  In this case, the lender will need the above information as well as corporate net worth information.  Such information will include.  Name of business, address, telephone, status, type of business,  owners, and percentage owned, to name a few.   When looking at net worth, the lender will also request the assets, liabilities and equity of the business.  The lender will also look into whether the operation has pending lawsuits, owe past due taxes, or experienced any judgments.  These are all important items as it relates to net worth. 
What is net worth is an important question you need to have answered prior to applying for financing.  In summary, knowing what net worth is can improve your presentation to a lender or financial investor. 
Categories: Financial