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Is your financial knowledge ready for a workout?

What Are You Worth

To gauge your financial health, it's a good idea to keep close track of your net worth. This doesn't mean what you're worth as a person. Net worth is the value of your personal finances.

One way to understand it is to imagine yourself as a business. To figure out how much a business is worth, you would add up everything the company owns and subtract from that total everything that the company owes.

Net Worth = Assets - Liabilities
Assets

Your assets are everything that you own. They may include your house, car, furniture, motorcycles, trail bikes, camping gear - anything that's worth money. Assets also include all savings, cash on hand, and investments. Even the stuff you still owe money on is included.

To determine your total assets, figure the appropriate market value of everything you own. Consider how much an item might fetch if you were to sell it online. Be honest and realistic.

You can even go a step further and figure out future assets. If you have money in an interest bearing account, or in investments, you can calculate how much your money will grow.

Liabilities

Your liabilities are everything that you owe. They're the total amount you would need to pay off your mortgage, credit cards, student loans and loans from family and friends. Be sure to include any interest and finance charges. This information is typically included on your monthly statements.

As with assets, you can also track liabilities into the future by calculating your repayment rate and projecting when your debts will be paid off.

Building Wealth

Ideally, you will have more assets than liabilities. As you grow older and advance in your career, you'll earn more, reduce debt and increase savings.

Age Median Net Worth
Less than 35 $9,300
35-44 $42,100
45-54 $117,900
55-64 $179,400
65-74 $206,700
75 and older $216,800

*Source, Federal Reserve 2010 Survey of Consumer Finance."

Saving money is the most powerful tool for generating personal wealth. And it's even more powerful when you're young. That's because the more time you have to earn interest, the more wealth you'll acquire.