Asset Tracking, but how far?

On tracking accounts, I get the retirement account and company pension (if, you're lucky enough to have one), but where do you stop? Do you track your house value as well as your mortgage balance? Do you track cars, computers, flute, etc. ?Thanks!

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  • I'm not overly concerned with having a very accurate picture of my net worth right now, so the only one I track is my car, and that's to remind me of why I'm working to pay it off so quickly - so I don't end up upside down on it. If you want to know your true net worth you'd probably add a lot more detail. But I'm not sure YNAB is the best tool for that, since you have to manually adjust every item for depreciation. A spreadsheet would be better. 

    Like 2
  • I'm experimenting with tracking my mortgage & home value in YNAB to see of that visualization helps motivate faster payoff. I also have retirement accounts and my HSA in there as tracking accounts. I'm not sure yet if I will see any benefit to doing this, esp vs the added time spent adjusting balances monthly or quarterly.

    I know other people have done it & had good results because of it, & others have not done so & had good results, so I think it just comes down to preferences.

    Like 2
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 that's where I am too. One benefit is it is all in one place. 

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  • The only non-financial asset I track is the house, and that is still sitting at the purchase price from 4 years ago, primarily to offset the mortgage loan in YNAB for net worth purposes. All other physical assets are assumed to have a zero real world value for net worth purposes as market value is difficult to determine beyond cars with KBB values so I see no point in including them.

    And unless you plan to reduce the number of cars you own, any residual value in your current car will be sunk into its replacement anyway, so again, no point in tracking it. Our heirs can deal with residual values of all possessions after we die. They'll just clean out the house and have an estate sale for anything they don't want.

    All 401ks, IRAs, HSAs, FSAs and brokerage accounts are included. We update investment accounts using a reconciliation adjustment transaction based on the last day of the month balance.

    Like 6
  • I don’t track anything that isn’t liquid in YNAB in any form.  My tracking accounts are my HSA and my travel reimbursement fund for work, since I only get a set amount per year. Some people track all sorts of things, and find that they like having a picture of their net worth. For me, I feel it is too fiddly for me, even if I were to only update my investments once a year. My time horizon on my net worth is very, very long, and I have a financial advisor I meet with once a year and we do the full car, house value, installment debt, every last little investment etc. calculation then. (I should add that I also use Personal Capital just for funsies but know that it is giving me an incomplete, short term picture.)

    It’s basically just a matter of how much you want to update YNAB. 

    FWIW I never, ever track my car value because it is my last resort asset. A car can be lived in, or at least, get you from place to place, in the event of the world going totally to crap and somehow everything gets drained and I get foreclosed on. It would never be sold because I need the money, and I intend to drive it until the wheels fall off, so how much it is worth is immaterial to me. 

    Like 4
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I better take more care if my car!

      Like 1
  • Also, we do not track Mrs. nolesrule's pension. We're fortunate that she even gets one (they stopped providing the pension to new employees, and there's always the risk they will freeze it or even liquidate it should the company go south). The information we have on the pension is just an estimate based on a pension calculator.

    I do use a conservative pension estimate for determining how much retirement money we will need in our investment spreadsheets.

    Like 1
  • Checking, savings, cash, gift cards, and CDs are on budget accounts. TIRAs, Roth IRA, 401(k), investment account, 2 mortgages, 2 home values are tracking accounts that get updated once a month (well not the home values, the rental house is at purchase price and my condo occasionally gets updated as other units in my development get sold). I don't track my FSA. I pay for everything out of pocket in order to get CC points and file for reimbursements. The reimbursements are treated as income, because it really is just delayed income. And reimbursements are exclusively used to fund my "Next Year's Out of Pocket Max" category such that it is fully funded when the plan year rolls over (which is when I reallocate to This Year's OOPM category). I bought my car for cash, but don't feel like it is worth the effort to track it for reasons mentioned by others and because the value would be a relatively small slice of the pie anyway.

    Like 1
  • Mortgage and car loan, home value, and various and sundry retirement accounts. My FSA, CDs and savings bonds are actually on budget for me, because I am saving for specific purposes and I need to give those dollars their jobs.

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat good point if you're funding them actively. 

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    • bevocat I've done both, back and forth, and am still not settled...
      Some longer savings projects I simply record the expense as just that.  I'm spending money for "new car" but do not track that amount (it's in a brokerage account and I don't want to deal with monthly ups/downs for 10 years).
      I have others that are just Goals but these tend to be shorter (Christmas, Taxes, Vacation).  The short term makes it impractical to put into a brokerage so the ups/downs are not a problem.

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  • I track loans, retirement accounts, HSA, and FSA.  I don't track value of non-monetary assets though.  

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      TheTabby do you mean non liquid assets? Or, like priceless artwork? 

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      • TheTabby
      • Just a common cat trying to budget uncommonly well.
      • TheTabby
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. I consider retirement accounts, HSAs, and FSAs to be non-liquid, so by my view I'm tracking non-liquid assets.

      When I say I don't track non-monetary assets, I mean I don't track the theoretical value of a car, and I wouldn't try to track a house in the theoretical future where we buy one.  The values on those items are too subjective.

       

      (I don't have any priceless pieces of artwork.  I do have a grandfather clock I inherited, but I'm pretty sure it's not worth huge amounts of money.  I also have a lottery ticket whose value has yet to be determined, so I'm not taking that either)

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      TheTabby That's what I assumed you meant by non-monetary. Good luck with the lottery. Personally, I don't play due to the odds. But I do enter like HGTV sweeps. Their odds are like 1 in 25million, so a little better than the state powerball, which is 1 in 292 million.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. 2 bucks is worth three days of dreaming just for the entertainment value. And I only do that when it gets large. 🙂 The small jackpots don't go nearly as far as people think. Between lump sum and taxes, you only end up with 25 to 33% depending on what state you're in.

      Like 3
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I'd still accept it :) I also saw the same on the HGTV homes, most people sell the house to pay the taxes and never live in it. 

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      • TheTabby
      • Just a common cat trying to budget uncommonly well.
      • TheTabby
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. in my defense, I rarely play.   Personally, it's me perfectly happy with a 40 mil jackpot, and assuming I clear 10 mil, that's still enough to set up some reasonable financial independence, with needs being more than covered and work getting strictly for fun money

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      TheTabby No need to defend. If it's in your budget, play on!

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      • TheTabby
      • Just a common cat trying to budget uncommonly well.
      • TheTabby
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ben K. Eh, it comes out of my slush money.  No big deal.  It's more of defending myself from myself, because I know full well I'm trashing the money, which normally offends me.  To buy one I've got to actually walk inside a gas station, have actual cash in me, have the money to spare, and have a certain level of "what the hell" attitude.  This adds up to not many purchases a year.

      Like 2
  • I don't track net worth in YNAB, because it doesn't do well with investments and I have Quicken.  Even in Quicken, which deals with investments far better than YNAB,  my house is sitting at the tax assessment value and I don't track the value of my car or personal property.  For tracking purposes, I assume buying a car is an expense and just don't mess with depreciation over time.  In the budget, I have a Car Replacement category; the value of the car is meaningful only as a time span before I'll need to replace it.

    If I didn't have Quicken and wanted to use YNAB to track net worth, I'd update the value of investment accounts periodically and still ignore the car and personal property.

    What I actually use tracking accounts for right now is to keep track of how much I've had withheld or paid in estimated tax payments.  In an accounting sense, that's an asset that will be consumed by a tax liability when the liability is quantified accurately; but mostly it's to help me keep track of where I stand when I'm budgeting for income taxes.  While working, I never budgeted for income tax, just let withholding happen and dealt with a refund or payment due; in retirement, I am responsible for managing the withholding and/or estimated payments, so income taxes enter into the budget.

    Like 6
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer thank you for bringing up budgeting in retirement and the differences. 

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      • casner
      • Now retired, and figuring out transitions
      • casner
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Patzer I do the same, but I only use YNAB. I don't have Quicken, and see no reason to pay for another program or learning curve. I get a monthly updated net worth; ignoring cars, library, etc.

      Like 1
  • Since I am using my extra cash to pay off my mortgage sooner, I track the value of my house and the mortgage, so I can see the net equity position. I plan to pay off my 30 year mortgage 10 years early, downsize the house and use some of that equity to fund my retirement savings. In addition, I track my various 401(K) plans, the cash value of my pension from a previous job (its small), as well as my vested and unvested stock awards from my current employer (the ones that will vest before retirement). I leave off the cars (fully paid for) as well as anything else. I think this gives me a good picture of where I will land in 4-5 years when I retire, which is an important number for me to know and track at this stage of my life. I have no idea what the value of the cars will be in 5 years, probably near zero, which is why I leave them off.   YMMV, and my scheme may be too complicated for other folks.

    Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Louie sounds like a good plan

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  • I have just started experimenting with tracking my car values. Helps me convince the wife that buying another car I don't need is actually a good idea! I'm just turning liquid assets into a slightly less liquid form... :) You have to keep on top of the values though and always be prudent. The way I treat it is to consider, if the shit hit the fan and I needed to sell it, how much could you sell it for tomorrow. Which is never going to be the best value available.

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    • Salmon Projector A car is never an asset.  It's a liability that starts depreciating and costing you money the instant you take the keys.
      Compare this asset to the ROI of a very low-risk investment account and you'll see that cars are not the best place to put your money.

      Like 1
    • Cadet Blue Nomad A car is definitely an asset, albeit a depreciating one in most cases. I have a couple of cars that are appreciating in value, which are purely there for enjoyment and not everyday drivers. Not bought as investments as such, but could be sold if absolutely needed, so I think it can be helpful to track their value. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Anything you can sell for money is an asset. A car is not a liability. A car loan is a liability (though it's an asset to the bank loaning you the money).

      Cars have operational and maintenance costs, sure. But that doesn't make it a liability. You could stop using the car and paying the costs and it would still have some monetary value.

      A house has operational and maintenance costs too, and yet it is considered an asset. The only difference is the scale of value.

       

      Since I bought my car new 3.5 years ago, I've paid more in property taxes on my house than the out the door cost for my car (I wrote the dealership a check).

       

      The paperclip on my desk is an asset, but it's not worth inventorying and tracking. It's up to the individual which assets they want to track.

      Like 1
    • Salmon Projector Technically it's an asset, yes.  I just don't think it's worth tracking in something that's really intended to help you budget.
      illiquid assets are not something you budget and off-budget tracking accounts are not very powerful.  They absolutely have their uses, but I don't agree that this is the place to do it.

      I agree with tracking the value, sometimes.  I sold my last car because it was depreciating so fast that I decided to sell it and get one that was a little less volatile.  I knew it was going to depreciate quickly, but it was reaching a point where I had to get out.

      Like 1
  • I only track what I want to budget.
    The only exception to this is an HSA account (medical) because it may get involved in my budget if I need to utilize it.
    I do not track anything like houses or mortgage because it's just adding a lot of nonsense to the picture.

    You have a mortgage?  You don't care if it's $400,000 or $40,000.  You still have to make monthly payments against it and the part you pay in principle or interest all comes out in the annual tax forms anyways.  Until April 15th, you don't care.  If you did, you would refinance and then you wouldn't care again.
    Investments don't need to tracked in YNAB.  Every single broker out there gives you pretty charts and monthly reports telling you how much you have, gains/losses, expenses.  Until you convert this into cash, you don't care at the level of a budget.  It's good to know about it for retirement purposes but this is such a long game (decades) that you really only need to look at them when it comes time to rebalance.

    One of the more common mistakes people make with investments is that watch them too much.

    Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      YNAB can do more than budget. For me, it's a one stop shop. I have an overall view of my entire financial picture. Everyone should track their net worth. It's their financial scorecard. I now have an 8 year view of my net worth month to month and year to year in YNAB. It's not that hard either and you can do it as granularly as you want. You could do it yearly, quarterly, or monthly. I enjoy it and do it monthly. It takes me 15 minutes, tops. If you don't do it in YNAB, you should do it somewhere else like in a spreadsheet or Personal Capital. 

      Like 4
    • Superbone It can do more than budget but I don't want to encourage them to think they need to do that.
      YNAB does budgets well.
      Other people do stocks and asset tracking better.

      I would much prefer it if they kept their development resources focused on something other than trying to replicate what others have already done very well.

      Too often companies lose their focus and start trying to be something they aren't very good at and fail.  History is littered with examples.

      Like 3
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Nomad YNAB is an excellent budgeting tool. I started out just budgeting. Over time, I wanted more. I learned more about personal finance. I learned how important it was to track one's net worth. I'd prefer not to use multiple tools. I like having everything in one place. I wouldn't worry about YNAB losing focus. Besides, they don't need to do anything else to tracking accounts. It's perfectly serviceable to me as is.

      They had YNAB4 perfectly tuned for budgeting. Unfortunately, they lost a step with nYNAB. It's been 3 years and there are still quite a few issues with the budgeting side of things. In that time, I haven't seen them do anything to improve tracking accounts. Maybe in a couple more years after they've cleaned up budgeting, I wouldn't mind them expanding other areas of the software. But they've given you no reason to fear that they'll lose focus on the budgeting side of YNAB which is their bread and butter.

      Like 2
  • I don't track any investments in YNAB. My cash-based accounts (i.e. including a cash ISA - tax-free savings in the UK) and credit cards are in YNAB on budget. Everything else is off-budget and the payments considered an expense.

    I had pensions, house values, share ISAs, cars on budget in YNAB4 but it didn't add anything for the way we used it so I took them off. 

    Currently, I don't have any tracking accounts but I would potentially still use them to keep track on any loans to family or reimbursable payments.

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  • Superbone said:
    Everyone should track their net worth.

     Absolutely! I just had this conversation with someone. They don't budget in any form or track any expenses. I asked them a bit more about it, and they said, "I'm doing fine." I asked how they know that's the case. They changed the subject. The real answer is they don't know and can't know if they don't track it. 

    On another note, which might be true for many people, but I'm a lot more tactful by writing than in person. I can re-read my post, think about, revise it, etc. I can't do that in conversation. 

    Like 2
    • Khaki Storm that made me laugh.

      Sure might have made me feel uncomfortable a couple of years ago, questionnaires like that. Do understand what you mean though; how would you know, with no information...

      For some I might still fall into the ignorant category. I don’t know our exact net worth... Did put the estimated value of the house (the amount the bank uses) in tracking.

      Like 1
  • I don't really bother with tracking personal assets that are hard to liquidate.  Because of the liquidation, your price might be very different from your estimates and so you have a pretty substantial error to consider.
    I could get some kind of estimates on my home but until it sells, the numbers aren't really worth much.  Anyone who was around a decade ago might be able to relate.

    Like 2
  • For my personally funded investments I track how much I've put into them.

    For my old retirement account from a previous employer and my current retirement account I check the websites once in a while and do a reconciliation to update their current value.

    Like 2
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