Net Worth Tracking Tool

A reader asked if I could make my financial update spreadsheet publicly available. Why not?

It’s downloadable here: (link).

How I update this every month in 5 minutes using Yodlee:

  1. As the month progresses, I log onto Yodlee periodically to manage my own money. As transactions come, I categorize them into a few buckets. I use the category of “transfer” a whole lot for my account-to-account transfers such as payment of credit cards, etc.
  2. Copy and paste cells D3:L147 once column to the right. It’s important that you copy and paste rather than cut and paste because it will preserve the integrity of all the formulas.
  3. On sheet 2 (entitled “Background Data & Most of Calcs”), dump a bunch of stuff in from Yodlee/Mint/Personal Capital.
    • The stuff I dump in begins in row 24. It’s just a straight copy paste from my Yodlee “Dashboard”.
      • Balance sheet.
      • Portfolio holdings.
      • Monthly transaction dump.
  4. There is a pivot table in cell X25 which summarizes all of the monthly transaction dump into one table. You have to refresh the pivot table here.
  5. All other equations in rows 3:23 should update automatically.
  6. Cells in grey are hard-coded from paystubs. Mortgage interest is calculated in cell K6.
  7. With those updates in place, I’m free to copy and paste the values into column D of the financial statement. I simply paste values here (rather than formulas).
  8. The most fulfilling part of this exercise for me is looking at row 95, and trying to get that to balance. If you’ve ever taken an accounting class, you’ll know how annoying this can be to perfectly match the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. This row ensures that you’re properly accounting for every penny of cash in your income and expenses. If you did everything correctly, it should be $0. When I first started doing this, I was more anal about it balancing. Over time, if I get to within $100, I consider it good. The main source of error here are transactions that take a few days to post. If you average this number across columns, it should be around around zero.
  9. The most annoying thing about doing the financial statement is that the balances must be extracted at the right time. If you are updating your financial statements every month, Yodlee et al. don’t do a great job of preserving historical balances. So if you’re going to follow along with me in doing this, you need to remember to update it monthly or quarterly or whatever.
  10. That’s it. All charts will auto-update, leaving you the most comprehensive way of tracking your finances that I can possibly conceive of. I especially like the updated spending and net worth charts I created this past month.

Disclaimer:
This site is for entertainment purposes only, as disclosed here: https://www.frugalprofessor.com/disclaimers/

7 thoughts on “Net Worth Tracking Tool

  1. I think I am going to stick with quicken for now for automatic aggregation of transaction/account information. It’s partly inertia… I’ve got many years of detailed data in there already, and I like looking at the net worth graphs over the long period of time. I also like being able to track spending in a little more detail (I find it very frustrating to deal with more spending categories in Yodlee’s web UI). However, I get really annoyed with the quirks and bugs of Quicken, and I miss being able to fully customize the reporting like you can in Excel. I’ll probably be forced to jump ship if Quicken become subscription-only in the future.

    One thing I’m frequently frustrated with, even in personalcapital, is getting a feeling for the performance of my investment accounts. I don’t check on performance often since I am a long term investor, but sometimes I’d just like to know what return I’ve gotten in recent years and it is surprisingly difficult to figure this out. Because I am broadly diversified in equities like you, I usually just end up looking the the performance of a reasonably broad index, and assume that the performance of my accounts is similar. Maybe in a future post you could address this topic.

    • Makes sense to me Scott. I stick with Yodlee for much the same reason as you with Quicken. Tons of inertia.

      I haven’t yet included investment returns on my report because it’s not something I can control (unlike investment fees). Plus, like you, I have a multi-decade investment horizon.

      You might want to check out this tool: https://www.google.com/finance/portfolio. I have used it before, but haven’t touched it for perhaps a decade. It looks to do a lot of the cost basis and performance tracking at the ticker level. I know Morningstar has a similar tool.

      Perhaps the feature I should build into this tool is a tax-loss-harvesting notification tool. This would be immensely helpful for me in the not-too-distant future. Especially in my taxable account, I’d track the cost basis and time of purchase for each lot. TLH is of the only things (aside from 401k sheltering, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions) you and I can do to lower our taxable incomes in AMT territory. What’s your effective marginal tax rate? I’d imagine 50% after accounting for federal, and state, right?

      The consensus at Bogleheads seems to indicate a mixture of the above + Excel is optimal. https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=72952. https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=164601.

      • A TLH notification tool would be really cool. PersonalCapital should really provide this service, but I know they never will for various reasons. I think Quicken makes it fairly easy to review for possible TLH events because it tracks cost basis (I haven’t started doing this yet because I fairly recently started doing taxable accounts), but I don’t think it will provide any kind of alert.

        To calculate my EMTR, I went into TaxAct and upped my 2016 W2 income by $1000. Additional taxes due (Federal + State) were $545, for an EMTR of almost 55%. If I contribute the full $1000 to charity, the additional taxes due are reduced to $127.

        • EMTR of 55% is so depressing! Ouch!

          Let me dig more into the AMT and charitable contribution thing. I can’t explain it off the top of my head…

        • I took a closer look, and the number I gave you was inflated due to taxact calculating a penalty for overcontribution to a roth ira. After adjusting for this (and this time I entered the additional $1000 income as simple interest income), I think my combined EMTR is about 47%. Of this, 9.3% is CA (this is the normal tax bracket), and 37.5% is Fed. The reason for the high federal rate is a combination of regular taxes (at 25%), AMT (at 26%), and a phase out of the child tax credit (which effectively costs me $50 additional tax on the $1000 income).

          If I then contribute that $1000 to charity, I do get the write off under the AMT, but I still get hit with what is effectively a tax of $50 for phase out of the child tax credit (because the child tax credit is calculated based on AGI). So, even if I contribute the full $1000 of extra income to charity, it still effectively get taxed 5%.

          It’s really the child tax credit phase out which is the kicker here.

  2. Could you do a post on Yodlee sometime? I’ve heard of Quicken and the Intuit products as well as Personal Capital, but Yodlee is a new one for me. What are the advantages?

    • Yodlee is essentially the same thing as Mint and Personal Capital. If my memory serves me well, Yodlee preceded Mint and I first joined it around 2004/5. I joined mint a year or two later when it came online, but wasn’t convinced to switch over. Sadly, moneycenter.yodlee.com appears to be closed to new users.

      Personal capital does much the same as the above two, but adds a tiny bit of investment guidance. The annoying thing about them is you’ll get one call about hooking you up with a financial planner. If you don’t mind saying no the one time, they’re a good resource. However, since I’m perfectly capable of tracking expense ratios myself as well as portfolio allocation (how hard is it to take domestic / (total portfolio) to calculate % allocation to domestic), I don’t find any incremental benefit to Personal Capital above Yodlee.

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