Creating a picture of your financial health enables you to quickly see where you need to make changes to your lifestyle to reduce debts and grow your wealth.
Just as a physical healthcheck tells you you’ve been eating too many chips and need to do more exercise, so a financial healthcheck (or you could call it a ‘wealthcheck’) tells you that you’re spending more than you earn or that you could be putting more of your savings into investments (joyful things these healthchecks aren’t they!).
In good health
There are two columns in the picture. The column on the left compares your monthly spending to your monthly income. To be on the better side of fighting fit, your spending needs to be lower than your earning.
The column on the right shows your net worth. It does this by comparing the total of all your debts to the total of all your assets. Again if you are aiming for supreme levels of financial fitness, you’ll want the value of your assets to far outweigh the value of your debts.
Identifying changes to improve your financial health
The example in the sketchnote highlights a couple of important things.
First in the left hand column the monthly spending is higher than the earning. This is not sustainable over a long period of time, without falling into debt. So the priority is to find ways to reduce spending as quickly as possible (I say that like it’s really easy to just cut your costs…).
Another possibility is to find extra work, but again this might not be possible or easy to do quickly.
The column on the right shows quite a considerable amount of short term debt from credit cards and a car loan. It’s likely the interest on these will be high, so it’s worth considering if some of the cash savings could be used to pay down a large amount of the credit card debt.
Depending on interest rates and current market values, it might also make sense to cash in the investments and use that money to further pay down the debts, which will help to reduce the monthly repayments and so reduce monthly spending.
Building your financial health picture
Hopefully this example shows the benefits of boiling lots of financial information down into a simple picture. The next question is how to do this?
The answer I’m afraid involves the dreaded ‘B’ word…. Yes it does indeed require a budget!
If you’ve never created a budget before, here’s the quickest / simplest way to do it:
- Make a list of all the regular bills and direct debits that you pay out each month.
- Keep track of all the things you spend the rest of your money on each month (you know, all those overpriced lattes and avocado on toast lunches or whatever BS we’re made to feel guilty about).
- Tot up the total of all these items to give you your monthly spend.
- Note down your monthly income from your main source of employment.
- Also jot down any regular additional income you earn.
The difference between what you earn and what you spend is your ‘savings rate’. In the sketchnote the savings rate is negative. If the income is higher than the spend, then the savings rate will be positive.
Next up is your net worth…
- Pull together all the your debts and tot up the total value
- Make a note of the interest rates on each debt. Credit cards and other short term loans tend to have higher interest rates than mortgages.
- List all your assets, such as cash savings and money invested in ISAs, your pension, possibly your investments in the weird and wonderful world of crypto and maybe that antique vase you inherited from your grandmother that looks like the expensive one you saw on the Antiques Roadshow last week…
- The equity you have in your home (which is the value of your property minus the amount you owe on the mortgage)
Subtract the total value of your debts from the total value of your assets and you get your net worth.
If your assets are worth more than your debts, your net worth will be positive. If your assets are worth less than your debts, then your net worth will be negative.
Once you’ve gathered all the bits of the jigsaw (the analogies just don’t stop do they), you can create your picture and see very visually what state of financial health you are in.
The more diligent amongst us will probably want to enter all this information into a spreadsheet and then create a couple of nice graphs.
The alternative is to sketch something a bit more abstractly onto a piece of paper, similar to the sketchnote.
As always, it’s down to personal preference. Both approaches should give enough of a picture to help you make your financial decisions.
Here’s to your good health
So in summary, creating a picture of your current financial situation is a great way to work out what sort of changes you need to make things better. To create your picture you need to consider the difference between what you spend and what you earn each month, and you need to compare the value of all your debts against your assets.
Once you’ve created your picture, you can start to plan how to reduce your debts and grow your wealth for the future.
Thanks for reading 🙂