Your Net Worth Doesn’t Equal your Net Wealth

Since I was 3 I’ve been earning money

I’ve busked on a street, mowed lawns, grew a brood of chickens so I could sell their eggs and then had a very profitable little business selling pine cones and sheep shit.

I then discovered that the school playground was full of cashed-up clients. Remember pop pops? Those tiny little firecrackers were a big hit on our school bus and also at school. I was one of the first bus stops on our bus route and conveniently there was a newsagent next to it that sold these and surprisingly, would sell them to 10-year-olds.  I would go in and buy the whole stock and then sell them on the bus. I would start selling them at 100% markups and then, as more kids were joining, I would keep marking up the price. Sometimes getting 400% returns!!

Eventually, this got me in detention. However, it was well worth it as I had built up some great capital from the experience. As I got older I saw that there was a high demand for booze and cigarettes. I was able to grow some facial hair at a young age, and combined with my confidence I soon discovered that a lot of places would sell to a minor. This funded my endeavours during my teenage years. I would pay for school camps, tennis camps, sporting gear, with the profits from this.

 

Money to me had a number of different meanings. It meant independence, choice and freedom. I thought I had a great relationship with money. In hindsight, I did, until I didn’t.

In 2016 I sold my second business. I had reached financial freedom. I literally had millions of dollars in the bank. I was feeling very proud of myself and was excited about the next chapter in my life.

However, like it often happens when you feel like you are on top of the world, life has a strange way of pulling you back down. We got into a horrible legal battle with the buyers of our business who refused to pay us a big part of the sale value. I had done what you should never do with money. I had banked the money before the money had actually arrived in the bank. So suddenly I felt like I was worth a lot less than before.  When this was combined with the prospect of a very expensive and long legal battle, I suddenly felt poor.

What we believe our mind will conceive.

So with my new scarcity mindset, I continued to find ways to lose money. Looking back, even with everything that occurred, I had plenty of money. I was still financially free!  If I was coaching someone else in this exact situation, I would have helped them see this and coach them to change their mindset back into an abundant mindset.

The problem though is that you can’t coach yourself. Even if you are an expert in the field, it is very hard to get out of your own head. What happened then was a self-destructive spiral of events. I burned out and had to shut down a new company that I had just raised money for. I paid back all the investors in full out of my own pocket because that was important to me. I got depressed and then a chain of events led to my marriage breaking down.

I have been on an incredible spiritual journey over the last 18 months. I’ve done a lot of very deep self-reflective work to unpack what happened to me over that period. You name it, I’ve probably done it. I’ve worked with a number of professionals, undertaken a lot of spiritual ceremonies, attended Burning Man twice, spent a month walking over 800 km across  Spain on a Camino De Santiago Pilgrimage and I even spoke to my father for the first time in 18 years. I discovered so much about myself during this time and it fuels my purpose to share my learnings.

I want to share one particular learning that is focused on your relationship with money.

As I said earlier, I always thought I had a good relationship with money. I had always found a way to have it and had consistently saved and improved my financial position each year. The first time that my net worth decreased was when that legal battle began. Even though I still had more money than I had ever had in any previous year, I felt like I had lost money. In my mind I was poor and worst of all, I was a failure.

Unfortunately, over the years I had created a correlation that more money meant more success. The problem with correlating money with success is that it never ends. If a lot means success then having more means better.

When I dug deeper into this relationship, I discovered that I had connected success with love, which meant that I had connected money with love. I had abandonment issues from my childhood. I did not get the love that I needed. This turned me into a highly independent and driven person and these personality traits helped me to achieve what society would collectively agree is a lot of success.

The problem was that I  didn’t really want success, I wanted love. I thought that if one day I achieved enough success then the love would start flowing in. When I started feeling like a failure because I had lost all this money, I lost any love for myself and when you lose love for yourself, others do too.

This is why I believe one of the most important money beliefs that we need to become connected with is that:

Your NET WORTH does not equal your NET WEALTH.

Your net worth is calculated by adding up all of your assets and then subtracting all of your liabilities/debt. Any personal financial balance sheet will help you give this number.

One of the reasons why we measure ourselves so much THROUGH monetary means is because it is easily quantifiable. If we were worth $1m last year and today we are worth $1.5m today then we feel like we are worth more.

The problem with this is that we are only measuring one variable and not taking into account the many other things in our lives.

It’s very dangerous to measure yourself by your net worth because unfortunately, you will have periods where it won’t go up. If you are not prepared for this psychologically you may set off a very challenging chain of events.

Whilst I still believe it’s important to know your net worth and track it, what I believe is more important is to track progress in all areas of your life.

We often talk about the opportunity cost of a missed investment opportunity. However, we never talk about the opportunity cost of making that same investment opportunity. What are you giving up to do that? Time, health, relationships, happiness…

What I suggest is that you use a personal life balance sheet. We’ve created one for you that you can download here.

On this balance sheet, you can track progress in all the areas of your life that are important to you.

These may include:

  • Physical wellness
  • Social wellness
  • Emotional wellness
  • Spiritual wellness
  • Intellectual wellness
  • Environmental wellness
  • Occupational wellness
  • Financial wellness
  • Quality of network
  • Flexibility/Time

Our downloadable personal life balance sheet contains 2 versions: one that includes the areas above and one blank where you can add yours.

If I had fully understood this concept things would have played out a lot differently.

I would have seen that yes, on a financial balance sheet I was worth less than before but on a “life” balance sheet I was actually worth a lot more. I had more experience, I had more time, I had better networks.

If I had been doing this at that time I would have realized that the financial aspect is just one part of the pie. A lot of the other important areas in my life were going great. However, I focused on the one that was not. Notice that I did not include net worth as one of the metrics above because it is not as important as we think.

Net worth is more focused on ego. It is our relationship with money, our financial wellness that matters.  

I strongly recommend you to give you yourself a rating from 0 to 10 in all of these different areas and see what overall number you get. Some of you may find that you are actually doing a lot better than you initially thought, because you have been focusing on just one metric. Some of you may feel the opposite, you may have been feeling great because you have built up a large net worth, but at the cost of other areas in your life.

This exercise will help ground you and focus on what is important to you rather than comparing yourself to others and feeling like you are falling behind.

Right now my score is 89. It changes regularly, however it has been on a positive trend since I started this exercise. I do believe it is possible to get to 100 and then keep it there for the majority of the time.

 

Be Intentional and live in the Now!

Finn.