No matter if your net worth is negative or you’re worth millions of dollars, anyone can begin taking steps today to increase his or her net worth. Whether you’re already motivated, or you’re looking for somebody to give you a nudge, anyone can make progress in this area. That’s why we’ve created this list of 25 ways to show you how to increase net worth.
While perhaps not every item on this list will apply to you and your circumstances, browse the list and find a few options that work for you and your family. When applying these tips, you might find that increasing your net worth is easier than you thought.
25 Tips For How To Increase Net Worth
Start tracking it
Fewer things will help you increase your net worth as compared to simply beginning a well-structured process to track your net worth. At a minimum, an annual check-in on net worth is important. Semi-annual might be better, and for those who really want to stay on top of it, a monthly tracking would work well.
For each time period, log the balance in your key investment and retirement accounts. Log the equity in your home, or the value and the corresponding mortgage balance. If you have any debts be sure to factor this in. Some people will also include the values of their cars and other higher value items like jewelry. I tend not to include these items as I don’t really think it indicates much about my financial status.
On months where you see a significant jump in your net worth, add some comments and context so that as you review and look back at your progress, seeing what’s been successful for you in terms of how to increase net worth will be useful.
Get the big things in your budget in order
Maintaining a proper budget can be crucial for growing your net worth. When considering how to increase net worth, income and spending are two of the main areas. For now, we’ll consider the spending side. Restricting your spending is so important because money you don’t spend recklessly can go to your bottom line and boost your net worth.
While countless articles are written about eliminating the $4 lattes from your budget, nothing moves the needle like getting the big things right. The big things for most people are two things: housing and automobiles. If you’re spending a significant percentage of your income on housing and auto, it’s going to be very difficult to get ahead. The more you shrink these two areas, a lot of money will get freed up to save and invest.
There are plenty of formulas for determining how much car or house you should buy based on your income. For instance, Dave Ramsey suggests that your total housing payment should not be more than 25% of your take-home income (this also assumes a 15-year, fixed rate mortgage).
With regards to your car, you should consider both the monthly expense and how much of your money is tied up in a car. For instance, just because you pay cash for a used car doesn’t really matter if the car was $75,000 and your total net worth is $150,000. Having that much money tied up into a car when your net worth isn’t high yet is a bad decision. Push yourself to drive less of a car. Every dollar in your car is a dollar that is not going toward your net worth.
Two more items: Vacations and education. Find ways to decrease your vacation spend. You don’t have to spend $8,000 per year in order to get away from work. This is money that could be compounding each year in your investments. Next… education. Specifically, private school. Private school tuition can crush a family’s finances if they really can’t afford it. While the allure of private school can be big for parents who care about their kids, sacrificing your financial future for it doesn’t make sense.
Get the small things in your budget in order
While the big items move the needle quickly, maximizing your personal finance situation will also require you getting the small things in your budget fixed up. What are the typical “small things” that hurt a person’s budget? For families, it’s often groceries. For singles, it’s often eating out and entertainment.
Map out these categories in a written budget and do your best to stick to them.
Maximize all tax-advantage investing
Tax efficient investing is one of the biggest things you can do to increase your net worth. For most individuals, this is a 401(k). Put the absolute maximum you can into your 401(k) every year, above and beyond company matching. Hit the maximum contribution each year. For 2019, the maximum contribution is $19,000. If you’re over 50, it’s $26,000. Contribute as much as possible even if it hurts. Every dollar you invest in a 401(k) is a dollar of income you aren’t taxed on.
For business owners or independent contractor types, look at SEP IRAs and Individual 401(k)s. You can accomplish similar tax efficient contributions towards your investments via these mechanisms.
Ensure all company matching is maximizing
If you are just starting out and are having trouble putting large chunks of money into a 401(k), at least contribute to get every dollar of company matching. This is literally free money and not taking advantage of it is one of the worst financial moves you could make.
Often times, contributing 6% of your income into your 401(k) will result in company matching half the contribution. This means you’re now saving 9% of your income without having to contribute that extra 3% yourself. Company matching is one of the biggest perks of working for a larger company.
Kill off all your debt
If you’re considering how to increase net worth, and you still aren’t yet out of debt, then you’ve got work to do.
Compounding interest on your savings and investments is one of the most powerful tools that exist in the world of finance. If you have debt, you’re basically doing the opposite of this. Get rid of your debt as fast as possible. Stop everything if you have to to get it done. Get intense and go scorched earth on your lifestyle if necessary just to get rid of the debt. Killing off your debt now versus years from now can literally be the difference in hundreds of thousands of dollars in your long-term net worth.
Pay down your mortgage
While mortgages are considered acceptable debt by most financial professionals and regular people, it’s still worth pursuing paying down the mortgage. It’s good to remember that your mortgage is still debt, and you’re paying interest on it. Every dollar of debt that you pay interest on is a dollar that is not in an investment earning a return for you.
Paying down your mortgage, in addition to the “rate of return” that is equivalent to the interest rate on the mortgage, this “investment” also has two other advantages. First, it’s risk free. Second, it’s tax-free. If your mortgage interest rate is 5%, then you’re getting a risk free, tax free 5% rate of return on every dollar you put into your mortgage. This is basically the equivalent of a risk free 6+% rate of return. Many investors would kill for a risk free 6+% rate of return.
Sell anything that you owe money on
If you want to accelerate your getting-out-of-debt process, selling anything of significance that you owe money on is a great way to jumpstart the process. Owe $15,000 on a car? Sell it and buy a $5,000 car. For many who find themselves in high debt, nothing will move the needle as fast as selling off stuff.
In general, you want to own things that are generating a return for you. Owning things that you’re paying interest on is the exact opposite of this.
Sell things you no longer need, invest the proceeds
Cleaning out old things is another excellent opportunity to improve your net worth. It’s a way to find some extra cash and de-clutter. Plus, the fewer things you own, the fewer things you have to pay to fix or repair. If you aren’t sure if you need something anymore, sell it! Put the money towards your investments.
Check what you’re making on your savings accounts
Millions of people would be shocked to figure out what they might be earning on their savings accounts, especially if they are with a traditional bank. For years, I assumed my regular savings account was paying something really mediocre, something in the range of .3% or something. When I asked I found out it was much worse. It was .1%! This is when internet savings accounts were marketing rates in the 1.5 – 2%. Still nothing amazing, but drastically better than the .1%. Figure out what your cash is earning and make adjustments if need be!
Get a raise
Fewer things will help you increase your net worth like increasing your income. The quickest way to improve income is to get a pay increase at your job. Don’t just ask for a raise, though. Implement a process that will improve your chances for positive results. The first thing you need to be doing is proving your value at your company. Go the extra mile and ask your boss what additional responsibilities you can be taking on. Then, prove yourself. Be reliable and indispensable. After a minimum of a few months of proving yourself with additional responsibilities, ask your boss for a raise. If they decline, ask what you need to be doing to earn more money. Explain that you love the company and want to deliver value necessary to grow in the company in both responsibility and compensation. If it’s clear that it’s a dead end, then, well, let’s move on to the next tip…
Explore other job options for higher pay
If it’s difficult to boost your income at your current job, you need to be looking elsewhere. In actuality, you should be exploring your other options on a near constant basis unless you’re in a very unique and highly compensated situation. For many, changing jobs is the easiest way to increase your income. Just be careful that you’re not setting yourself up as the first option to get cut when business conditions or economic conditions decline. Never let yourself get into a situation where you might be considered overpaid based on what you bring to the company.
Get a second job
Never before has it been easier to get a second job in addition to your main career. With the explosion of internet-enabled, independent contractor driven businesses such as Uber, Fiverr, Upwork, etc. getting another job doing work for additional money is extremely easy.
Or, stick with the traditional type work like delivering pizzas or some other evening hospitality job. Take that extra cash and use it to kill off your debt or to jumpstart your investments.
Get a side hustle
Take the additional income path to the next level by developing a side hustle. Consulting is a great opportunity if you have a set of skills that you can demonstrate value with to other clients. Recently, I hired an electrician that was excellent to wire a few things in my house. He had a full time job at a commercial electrical company and spent every saturday morning working for homeowners doing random electrical jobs. It is an outstanding side hustle that utilizes the skill set he already had.
Technical and design skills oriented folks can find side hustle work on places like upwork.com
Build a business
Take the side hustle even further and build a business. Owning your own business is extremely hard work, and is sometimes talked about as the best option for too many people. But, it’s true that if you can successfully build a business, you can scale your income much easier over time than with traditional employment. The reason is that you can achieve operational leverage and build an increasingly profitable business.
If you have an entrepreneurial bent, I’d definitely encourage this path, but I encourage it less than most people. Don’t be in a hurry to start your own business. Make sure you’ve developed your skills, your network and you’re in a decent financial shape. Don’t borrow money to start a business. You’ll almost assuredly cause yourself to fail.
Go on an extreme spending freeze for one month
While standard budgeting is a must process on an ongoing basis, it can be fruitful to go on some extreme spending freezes from time to time. Challenge yourself to see how much extra money you can save over the course of a month by cutting out even modest expenses. Don’t eat out at all, even for lunch. Brew your own coffee at home. Stay home on weekends and watch Netflix. Put that money into your investments.
Cut out recurring expenses
Do a review of the recurring expenses hitting your credit cards and bank accounts each month. It’s often a surprise for individuals to see some of the charges they are passively paying every month. Do a thorough review and cut out these expenses! Often times they’ll be for services and products you aren’t even using anymore!
Explore alternative options for health care expenses
If you have a great health insurance plan with an employer where they cover a good chunk of the expense, then you’re probably in good shape. Unfortunately, many are not in this situation. If you work for a small business or own your own business or are an independent contractor, health insurance options are pretty average with regards to cost especially if you have a family.
There are ways, however, to reduce your costs while still maintaining significant coverage. For those of us in situations with high health care costs and yet remain quite healthy, one consideration is a medishare program. These programs more closely resemble what the idea of insurance is supposed to be. Strict rules, super efficient costs and assistance with unforeseen health care bills. I personally have participated in one of these programs for the last few years, and I would estimate our savings at around $7,000 per year (I have a large family and health care premiums for me range in the $1,500-$2,000 range).
Don’t take vacations unless you’re using travel and credit card rewards points
Other than fixed expenses like housing and auto, vacations can often be the biggest budget item for families each year. While vacation time is hugely important as it lets you recharge from normal everyday life and offers opportunities to spend quality time with loved ones, many people overspend on vacations and significantly hamper their long-term net worth growth.
The best way to take great vacations while keeping your spend down is with credit card travel rewards points. You have two options here to really ramp up your rewards points. First, if you own a business or have significant business expenses, you can really accumulate a large number of points via business expenses. Second, if you’re strictly an employee with zero business expense opportunities, you can do some credit card churning to maximize bonus rewards.
Credit card churning refers to opening new credit cards when major bonus opportunities are available, hitting the minimum spend to obtain the bonus, then canceling the credit card. Then move on to the next one. There are rules that prevent overdoing this and some credit card companies will look to see if you’ve opened more than 5 cards in a year or two before approving you. Also, doing this can impact your credit to a minor degree; however, if you have a good mortgage, good credit and aren’t going to be applying for a new loan soon, it shouldn’t be a problem. Also, never carry a credit card balance. Pay it off every time. And stick to your budget. Some struggle with overspending as a result of using a credit card. Credit card rewards are NOT a good thing if you’re spending way more money as a result of having a credit card.
Maintain things around your house better
It’s part of the process of becoming a responsible adult, and learning to maintain the things you own better will save you money. Whether it’s the HVAC system or simple things around the house, keeping things well maintained and working will save you money on repair bills and having to replace things.
Additionally, keep your car maintained. It’s easy to spend too much money on car, so the longer you can get more use out of an existing car that is paid for, you’re saving tremendous amounts of money.
Learn how to buy in bulk better
Planning out your grocery and household item spend to maximize specific offers from specific stores and retailers. For instance, some budget conscious shoppers will buy a lot of staples from a place like Aldi, then get meat and produce from Costco. It’s more work, but the savings available can be significant especially over time.
Buying certain items in bulk can also provide you with regular savings. Work with your spouse and put a grocery plan together where you each understand which items should be bought from which stores. Then, work together to get it done on a regular basis.
Tip: If you have a big family, I’d strongly encourage the American Express blue card which offers 6% cash back on groceries. It’s a really good deal option if your grocery spend is high.
Get your spouse and family fired up with you
This might be the most important item on this listing for figuring out how to increase net worth. Being on the same page as your spouse and family members is crucial. When not on the same page, you’ll not only fail to make much progress financially, you can cause problems in your relationship. When one partner cares deeply about something, and the other doesn’t, it can lead to resentment.
Communicate clearly and unemotionally about your financial objectives both short-term and long-term. If there’s disagreement, be willing to give a bit. It’s ok if your spouse still wants to get a Starbucks latte every now and then. Realize that people are different and give grace when needed. The most important thing is to have a clear understanding and be on the same page.
Network and find new opportunities
It’s one of the most underrated elements of finance and career growth. Often times, the biggest boosts in income come from new opportunities. Nearly all new opportunities arise from your personal network and relationships in your life. If you believe this (and you should), then you should be working to expand your relationships and network.
How should you do this? Get to know your colleagues better. Grab coffee and lunch with them. If you meet someone who has had a level of success that you wish for yourself, offer to buy them lunch and pick their brain. If you’re a respectful and eager person, most successful individuals are happy to share tips and give you some insights. Soak it in.
Invest continually in low cost funds
Don’t stress over your allocation until your annual return on investments exceeds your annual contribution by a wide margin. Until then (and maybe even then as well), just stick to a simple handful of low cost funds on a place like Schwab, Vanguard or Fidelity.
Low cost fund enthusiasts often cite the three-fund portfolio as a path to take. This usually involves a U.S. total market index fund, an international index fund and a U.S. total bond market fund.
The Bogleheads site suggests utilizing the following ETF funds based on what brokerage you use:
- Schwab: Total Stock Market (SCHB), International (SCHF), Bond Index (SCHZ)
- Fidelity: Total Stock Market (FZROX), International (FZILX), Bond Index (FXNAX)
- Vanguard: Total Stock Market (VTI), International (VXUS), Bond Index (BND)
Settle in for a multi-decade long process (compounding discussion)
The vast majority of people that generate significant net worth over time is a result of staying the course over a long period of time and letting compounding interest work its magic.
Having a focused mindset for the long-term is huge for increasing your net worth. To demonstrate how impactful compounding interest is on your net worth, consider the following:
What the above chart shows you is the difference in compounding over time. In fact, the difference is magnified further by the difference in contributions between each scenario. On the left, $150,000 is contributed over 15 years, then nothing more is contributed for the next 20 years. On the right, nothing is contributed for the first 15 years, then $200,000 is contributed over the course of $200,000 years. The total that compounds on the left is almost $675k higher than the scenario on the right simply because more money compounds over more years than compared to the right.
It’s crucial that you get going on your net worth plan and that you are committed to sticking with it for decades. If you do that, your net worth will increase dramatically especially in the later years when large sums of money are compounding year after year.