We have recently added a new tool for the toolbox! This is a personal financial check-up scorecard. By providing some financial highlights you get an instant report of your financial situation. How cool is that!
Here is the page link which is also a menu option at the top of our website:
Let’s walk you through this interactive tool.
The plan is for the inputs to be quick and easy. Estimates are fine. You are just trying to get a reasonable picture on how things look.
Assets – Retirement Investments: Approximate dollar amount of all assets in retirements accounts (401Ks, IRAs, etc).
Assets – Non-retirement cash and investments: Approximate dollar amount of all bank and investment accounts not in retirement accounts.
Assets – Home Fair Value: Estimated value of your personal residence(s)
Assets – Vehicles value: Estimated value of automobiles you own
Operations – Monthly Gross Income: The average gross income you earn each month from your job or business
Operations – Monthly Average Savings: The monthly amount, on average, you save each month from your gross income. This would be money you are putting into your retirement or non-retirement investment and savings accounts. Do not include amounts put into your accounts by others, such as your employer 401K match. The purpose of this input is to determine how much you are saving of your gross income.
Operations – Annual miles driven: The approximate miles you drive on all your vehicles. This is used to determine your vehicle expenses.
Operations – FICO credit score: The credit bureau score that is a metric that shows how responsible you are in paying your bills on time as well as how you manage your consumer credit.
Outstanding Debt – Mortgage loans: This is the total dollar amount owed on mortgage debt (all mortgage notes, including home equity loans).
Outstanding Debt – Student Loans: This is the total amount owed on student loans.
Outstanding Debt – Vehicle Loans: This is the total outstanding of all auto loans.
Outstanding Debt – All Other: This is the total outstanding of all other debts.
Monthly Mortgage or Rent Payments: This is your contractual obligation to pay each month under your mortgage loans or rent agreements.
Monthly Student Loan Payments: This is your normal monthly payment obligation for student loans.
Monthly Vehicle Loan or Lease Payments: This is your normal monthly obligation for vehicle loans or leases.
Monthly – All Other Loan payments: Monthly amounts due on all other loans or contractual obligations.
Annual Savings Pace: The gap between income and expenses determines your savings. The more you save, the faster your path to financial independence. This shows how well you are saving as a percentage of your income.
Safe Withdrawal Potential of Investments: One rule of thumb is that a well diversified portfolio can allow you to withdrawal 4% of your initial balance and then increase it annually for inflation, and not run out of money using a 30 year time horizon. This metric shows you how much income your portfolio can currently generate in year one.
This gives you a rough idea of the gap between your expenses and what your investments can generate. Note that the gap might be covered by other income sources such as a pension or social security.
Housing and Transportation
For most of us, housing and transportation are out most significant expenses, often approaching or even exceeding 50% of our total expenses. That is a big number! To the extent we can control or minimize these expenses we can free up money for things that may provide more value for us, including a higher savings rate!
Estimated Vehicle Cost per Year: This metric uses 65 cents per mile as an approximation of your annual cost, with the minimum being your car or lease payments (if you are not putting on miles).
Vehicles include a combination of fixed and variable costs, so it can get pretty involved depending on the situation. The cost per mile is likely the best way to approximate vehicle costs as it incorporates all of these components.
With every mile driven, you are consuming your vehicle’s value in the form of depreciation, or in the case of a leased vehicle, part of the monthly lease cost.
Estimated Housing Cost per Year: The metric uses your home value to help determine your annual housing costs. Because home expenses are inconsistent (very low some years and very high in other years), housing expenses are often under-estimated. For example, you might have a large expenditure in one year (roof, siding, furnace, water heater, septic system, etc) and not have anything significant for a number of years.
If you annualize these types of expenses you likely should spend (or reserve for) 2 – 3% of your home’s value every year. For example, if you have a $200,000 home, you should reserve $4,000 – $6,000 per year for repairs, upgrades, or large future replacements. In other words, as your home depreciates you need to put money away to handle the immediate or eventual replacements.
The other 1 – 2% of your home’s value is to cover your property tax obligations, which will vary by state and county. If you have a mortage loan the metric also includes an approximate amount of annual interest expense.
Debts and Obligations
Keeping debts in check is critical for improving your finances. There are a few metrics used to help determine how much leverage you have.
Debt to assets ratio: If you debts are less than 20% of your assets you are looking good. You are keeping leverage under control. If your debts are 50% or greater of your assets, you appear to have a high amount of leverage and you need to have a plan to reduce your debts over time.
Debt and contract service coverage ratio: The purpose of this metric is to determine how much breathing room you have each month to pay your obligations relative to your incoming cash flow. This is a standard metric used by lenders when evaluating businesses.
A ratio of 3 or better is good. That means you have 3 times the cash flow relative to your debt and obligation payments which means you have ample breathing room. A ratio less than or equal to 1 is poor. You have little room for error and you are at a much higher risk of not being able to make a payment. Between 1 and 3 is fair.
Credit Score: Your credit score is a good metric to measure how good of a job you are doing at paying your bills on time and managing your consumer debt.
Emergency Fund: Having a solid emergency fund can help ensure you can handle your spending even during times of financial stress, such as a job loss or other unexpected reductions in income. This will give you peace of mind that you can handle your expenses for a number of months should that happen.
- We have a new tool that gives you a quick look at your financial situation
- You plug in reasonable inputs and you get an immediate report
- This is just one tool, but it may give you areas to focus on
- Give it a try and give us some feedback!
Go here now: Personal Financial Check-up