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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.
A mortgage where you pay the principal down a little each month as the property is increasing in value is good debt. That is because you add to your net worth in two ways; first you pay off the debt and the second way is that the asset that secures the mortgage (your home) increases in value while you pay off the mortgage. Both deliver increased value to your net worth. Balance sheet goals There is only one goal that you need to focus on for your balance sheet. You need to own more than you owe. The normal pattern is that the older you get the larger your net worth becomes. There are two basic dynamics that contribute to this trend. One is the miracle of compound interest. The longer that assets are allowed to compound in savings and investment products the larger the annual contribution is to your personal net worth.
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There are many forms of debt. There is secured debt. That means that the debt is secured by a lien against an asset that you own. The lien and the debt should be for less than the resale value of the asset. Unsecured debt does not have any such lien and is hopefully based on your capacity to service the debt. The problem with unsecured debt like credit cards is that it is not offset by some asset that you own and acts only to reduce the net worth on your balance sheet. Credit card debt would thus be categorized as bad debt as it only acts as a drag on building positive net worth.