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What is Liquid Net Worth? & How Do You Calculate it?

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Do you know your net worth? If you have no idea, then don’t stress, this article will help you understand how to calculate the value of all of your assets and liabilities. There’s a significant difference between your net worth and your liquid net worth, and you might be wondering how that impacts your financial position.

Your net worth is the value of all of your assets, minus your liabilities. Your liquid net worth is the current value of your assets after you deduct the expenses involved with liquidating them into a cash position.

Let’s unpack everything you need to know about calculating your liquid net worth.

Liquid Net Worth

Before we start, it’s essential to understand why knowing your liquid net worth is vital to your financial livelihood. Knowing your liquid net worth is critical if you have to pack up everything suddenly, and relocate to another country. The number also gives you a clear indication of your wealth, and that’s important for taking on credit facilities.

Before we start to estimate your liquid net worth, you need to calculate your total net worth. To arrive at your overall net worth number, use the following formula;

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

Sounds easy enough, right? All you need to do is open a spreadsheet and list all of your assets. After that, list out all your current liabilities.

Assets are things you own, such as your home, vehicles, furniture, savings, and investments. Liabilities are any debts you owe, or ongoing expenses, such as the outstanding balance on your mortgage or cars. You can also include items like personal loans in your liability column.

After totaling up the two columns, subtract your liabilities from your assert value, and you have your total net worth figure. It’s possible to finish this exercise in less than an hour, and it gives you a holistic view of your finances.

However, it’s not an entirely accurate view of your “liquid” position. For instance, you might own your house outright with no mortgage. The market value of the real estate is $500,000, but if you were to sell your home tomorrow, would you end up with $500,000 in your bank account after the sale goes through?

The short answer is no. You’ll need to make payments to agents and lawyers with the sale, plus many other hidden costs. If your selling in a weak market, the chances are the buyer will offer you 10% to 20% less than your asking price.

All these factors play a role in determining the final payment that lands in your bank account, and it might be significantly lower than the $500,000 you were expecting.

Understanding your net worth is crucial if you plan on going into business and need to take out a loan. Banks calculate your liquid position and take that into account when assessing the risk involved with loaning you money.

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How to Calculate Your Liquid Net Worth?

Calculating your liquid net worth involves removing all of the transaction costs and expenses involved with liquidating all of your assets. It also takes into account depreciation and market conditions that might affect the final liquidation figure.

Using our methodology from the previous section, if you round up the value of all of your assets, you might come up with a figure of say, $1-million.

Congratulations, you’re a millionaire! Or are you?

  • If your liabilities come in at $400,000 for all of your outstanding debt, then you have a total net worth of $600,000. However, this is not your liquid position. Let’s say you have to liquidate all of your assets to fund a medical procedure. What would be the value of all of your assets in a fire sale?
  • If your car is worth $30,000 at current market value, and you have a note on it for $10,000 outstanding, then the value of the vehicle is now $20,000.
  • However, if you had to sell it in a rush, you might only find a buyer that’s willing to give you $25,000. Therefore, the $25,000 sale value, minus the $10,000 note, leaves you with a figure of $15,000 – that’s half of the estimated value of the asset.
  • If you have an IRA, and its current value is $100,000, then this is once again not your liquid position. Even if your 60-years-old, and you’re pulling out the money to use for your retirement, you’ll have to pay money in closing costs and transaction fees, netting you slightly less than the $100,000 total.
  • That’s also assuming you get a tax-free payout with a Roth IRA. If you have a traditional IRA, then you’ll have to settle the taxman with your payout, which can vary depending on your tax bracket. For argument’s sake, let’s say you end up paying the IRS $30,000 in taxes on your account.

You also end up paying $2,000 in closing fees. As a result, you end up with a final payout of $68,000, which is 32% lower than the $100,000 you were expecting.

Factors Affecting Your Liquid Net Worth

A few other factors also affect your liquid net worth position. For instance, You might have all of your assets tied up in investment real estate, with a total value of $1-million. Another person might have $600,000 in assets in a savings account, using after-tax dollars.

In this case, while the real estate is technically worth more than the savings account, you’ll have to pay taxes and fees on the sale of your properties. After accounting for capital gains taxes and fees, you might cash out your real estate portfolio for a total of $500,000.

However, the person with the $600,000 in cash would pay no tax, since they funded the account with after-tax dollars, and received no growth on their money. In this case, the person will end up with a liquid value that’s very close to the $600,000-mark.

Therefore, the person with the lower total net worth, actually has a higher liquid net worth than you, the real estate investor.

What Are Liquid Assets?

From our example above, you can see that there’s a significant difference between assets and liquid assets. So, what are liquid assets exactly? Here’s a list of liquid assets that you might already have in your portfolio.

These include cash and cash equivalents.

Examples are:

  • Cash in savings accounts or physical cash on hand
  • Precious metals like gold and silver
  • Accrued earnings
  • Promissory Notes
  • Stocks and government bonds
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Tax Refund

When you cash out these assets, there are next to no fees, meaning that the cash value of liquidating these assets is closer to the market value.

However, it’s also important to note that you might have to pay capital gains tax on investments, as well as fees, making the amount you receive smaller than the market value.

The reason why they have a classification as liquid assets is that you can cash them out on short notice, sometimes in as little as 24-hours.

Read: Best Investment Ideas for Millennials: Complete Guide

Understanding the Liquid Value of Retirement Accounts and Plans

Many people make the mistake of allocating the value of their IRA and 401(k) plans into their net worth calculation.

These assets are not true liquid assets, even though you could cash them out in a few days, and have the money land in your bank account, ready to spend.

However, you’ll need to keep these investments until the maturity date, to qualify for the entire value on your payout. When you do reach 59.5-years-old, and you can access the cash, you’ll have to pay tax on 401(k) and IRA payouts.

The amount of tax you pay depends on your income tax bracket when you retire. Most people rise through the tax brackets during their career, as they start earning more money. Therefore, when you cash out at age 59.5, you could end up paying the taxman as much as 30-percent, or more, of the total value of the investment.

If you decide to withdraw early, you’ll also have to pay a penalty fee of 10%, significantly reducing your payout when we include the tax obligation as well.

It’s important to note that taxes only apply for traditional IRAs and 40-1(k) plans. If you have a Roth

IRA, then your contributions are tax-free since your making the payments using after-tax dollars. However, if you decide to withdraw early, then your payment has exposure to tax, and you’ll need to pay the early withdrawal penalty.

If you’re under retirement age and calculating the liquid value of your Roth IRA, then remember to deduct taxes, penalties, and fees when determining the liquid value of your asset.

Calculating Liquid Value of Your Real Estate Assets

Real estate is probably the most challenging asset to liquidate. When you decide to sell your home, it might sit on the market for months before you find a buyer. The longer your home sits on the market, the more you’ll have to discount the property to attract buyers.

Even is a strong real estate market, it could take you weeks to sell your home. The sales value depends on how desperate you are to sell your home. If you need cash urgently, then you might have to offer a 10% discount on the asking price to attract buyers, reducing the liquid value you receive after the sale.

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Transaction Fees for Real Estate Sales

When calculating the liquid value of your home, you’ll also need to take into account the transaction fees involved in selling the property as well. Your estate agent might charge you anywhere between 3% to 6% of the value of the transaction.

Closing costs are also a concern and can add up to between 1% to 2% of the final transaction value. Closing costs include transaction taxes, which vary by state, as well as attorney fees for facilitating the legal work involved with switching titles from your name to the new owners, as well as escrow costs.

As a result, you could end up paying around 10% of the total sale value in fees, something that you need to take into account when calculating the liquid value of your real estate. Investors selling a rental property have exposure to paying capital gains tax on the profits they make on the sale.

For instance, if you buy a home for $300,000 as a rental property, and the value increases to $350,000 over 5-years, then you’ll need to pay tax on the $50,000 gain you made on the value of the real estate.

The Liquid Value of Your Business

If you thought that figuring out the liquid number on your home was challenging, wait until you have to value your business. Placing a number on your company is challenging for several reasons.

As a starting point, you need to figure out how easy it is to sell your business. For instance, unwinding a startup company is far more complicated than selling a cash business like a car wash. Startups are much harder to sell than cash businesses, and they’re challenging to valuate using GAAP accounting methods.

In most cases, you’ll need to hire a business consultant to help you with the valuation process. These costs take away from the final number you receive in the cash value of the dale, and you also have to take into account tax on the final amount as well.

Therefore, in most cases, it’s best if you exclude the value of your business from your total net worth unless you have an accurate figure verified by a business consultant.

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Calculating the Liquid Value of Your Possessions

Many people make the mistake of calculating the liquid value of their possessions at current market prices. However, it might surprise you to learn that liquid figure is far lower than what you expect. As a rule of thumb, you should total up the retail cost of all of your possessions, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, and then allocate 5 to 10% of the number to your liquid net worth.

For example, you might pay $500 for a new TV, but when you sell it a few years later, you’ll probably only get $50 to $100 for it on the second-hand market.

There are exceptions to this rule, such as jewelry. However, even these assets are only worth around half of what you paid for them in liquidation. Jewelry retailers often charge margins of between 100% to 200% on the “melt” value of the piece.

An Example of Calculating Your Liquid Net Worth

By now, you should have an understanding of how to calculate your liquid net worth. Let’s run through an example to help you get a visual idea of how to complete this calculation yourself.

  • For this example, let’s say you have a total net worth of $1-million, and your liabilities are $400,000.
  • In that example, you have a net worth of $1-million – $400,000 = $600,000.

Now that we have your net figure let’s go through each of the asset classes individually to calculate your liquid net worth.

Your Home

Your home has a market value of $400,000, with an outstanding mortgage of $200,000. If you want to sell your house quickly in a down market, you might have to settle on a $380,000 selling price.

After subtracting a further 10% for the transaction costs involved with selling your real estate, you come up with a liquid figure of $162,000.

Vehicles

You and your partner each have a car, and you both bought the same model for $40,000 each. The total market value of the vehicles is $80,000. However, your cars are both 2-years old, and you can count 40% off of the original retail value in depreciation of the vehicles.

As a result, the final sale value of your vehicles is $48,000. Subtract the $20,000 you owe on your car notes, and you have a final liquid value of $28,000.

Retirement Accounts

Your traditional IRA and 401(k) plans total $100,000 in assets under management. C0onsidering you’re likely under the retirement age, you have to account for the 10% penalty fee, leaving you with $90,000.

Next, the closing costs and transaction fees involved with cashing out your accounts will account for another 2%, leaving you with $88,000. The taxman requires its cut of 30% in taxes, leaving you with $61,600 as the liquid value of your retirement assets.

Furniture and Household Assets

Total up the retail value of all of your non-jewelry items. For this example, we’ll say all of your possessions are worth $50,000 at market value. Therefore, the liquid value is $5,000. If you have jewelry worth $20,000, then you can count $8,000 of that value towards your liquid net worth.

Wrapping Up – Doing the Math on Your Liquid Net Worth

Now we input all of these liquid values into your spreadsheet to determine your final net worth, making the calculation the following;

  • Primary Residence: $162,000
  • Cars: $28,000
  • Retirement Savings: $61,600
  • Furniture and Trinkets: $13,000
  • Total liquid net worth = $264,600
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Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased reporting.oliver@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


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