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It is also important to know the value and structure of your assets and liabilities. Your net worth should be a positive number. The older you are the bigger the number should be. That is because you will need this net worth to finance your retirement when you can no longer work to provide income to your budget. The assets in your balance sheet fund your retirement in three ways. They keep costs down. The best example of this is home ownership. If you own your own home you will not have to pay a mortgage payment. That means you need 30% less to live on each month. The second way that assets fund your retirement is that you invest them in income producing assets such as Certificates of Deposit Bonds or dividend producing stocks.
Why Small Businesses Are Different If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur then you need to be able to read and understand your balance sheet because first it is through your financial statements and other numerical data that you collect that you really get to know your business. Michael Gerber the best selling author of the E-Myth Revisited says it much better than I ever could as "because without the numbers you can t possibly know where you are let alone where you re going. With the numbers your business will take on a totally new meaning. It will come alive with possibility." The very first step you will ever take down that road to really knowing your business is through examining and understanding your own balance sheet.
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This usually presents less of a challenge than the valuation of assets because most long term assets like loans have explicit terms that spell out exactly how much you owe on them at any given moment in time. How Equity Is Valued Depending upon the type on entity (Corporation S-Corp LLC. etc.) that you use the equity portion of the balance sheet can use different terms but really there are two kinds of equity: capital that you put into the company (stock contributed capital etc.) and the earnings of the company (retained earnings). The capital that you contribute is usually pretty straightforward.