I love playing around with figures – I’m a numbers girl. Accountant by day and money blogger by night… kind of obvious really isn’t it?
But if numbers aren’t your thing and you’ve decided to take control of your money, here are 5 numbers you might calculate on your money journey to help you to get focused and establish some goals, and to motivate you to keep going when things start to get a bit tough.
Your Debt Free Date
What is it?
Your debt free date is the date that you’ll become debt free (usually this is a plan for consumer debt excluding mortgages).
This can either be the actual debt free date based on your current repayment plan or a goal date based on accelerated debt pay off.
How to calculate your Debt Free Date
Play around with a repayment calculator. You can input your current balances, rates and payments to find out when you will pay everything off.
If you’re trying to pay off debt sooner and save money on interest, you can input a standard monthly overpayment and the tool will recalculate your debt free date.
It’s a highly motivating process when you compare the time and interest saved by making an overpayment each month.
Your Emergency Fund Goal
What is it?
An emergency fund is a pot of money saved for…well, emergencies.
What constitutes an emergency will differ from person to person but it should only be used for NECESSARY spending (so don’t dip into it to pay for your summer holiday!).
Emergencies could include:
- Job loss and covering household expenses until you find new work
- Replacing broken appliances (but these should be cashflowed from elsewhere in your budget first, if possible)
- Car repairs (as above, should be cashflowed if possible)
How to calculate your Emergency Fund Goal
The amount you save in your emergency fund is completely personal and dependent on your own financial situation.
If you are paying off debt it doesn’t make sense to have a large emergency fund (bank savings interest is almost non existent in comparison to the interest paid on debt) but having a float of £500-£1,000 is sensible so that you can pay for emergencies such as car repairs without using your credit card and increasing your debt.
If you have no debt, the amount is whatever you feel comfortable with should you lose your job or be out of work for any number of time.
It’s usually recommended to have 3-6 months worth of expenses (i.e your monthly bills and necessary expenses) so for example this could be £1,500 per month x 3 = £4,500 emergency fund.
It’s worth considering a few factors though:
- Are you single? – A single person would not have the support of a partner to tide them over during a period of unemployment so their savings should be higher.
- Are you in a niche employment? – i.e. how easy would it be for you to find alternative employment should you lose your job? If your job market is small, you should save more to cover longer periods of unemployment.
- Your living arrangements – if you live at home, or your rent/mortgage cost is low, you could afford to save less than someone who has a large mortgage commitment.
Your Mortgage Pay Off Plan
What is it?
Once you’re consumer debt free, you might consider becoming mortgage free.
Many people who are seeking financial independence overpay their mortgage to become mortgage free as soon as possible.
Our largest monthly expense is usually the mortgage – wouldn’t it be nice to put that money to better use each month? Not to mention the interest you would save by paying it off early (subject to lender’s Ts&Cs and early repayment charges).
How to calculate your Mortgage Pay Off Plan
I love to play around with the Money Saving Expert Mortgage Overpayment Calculator.
Simply input your current mortgage debt and the number of years remaining on the term, and your interest rate or monthly payment. This will calculate your current pay off plan (which you already know).
Next you can play around with inputting some overpayment figures and see what happens.
You can input one off overpayments or monthly overpayments.
If you have a target date for being mortgage free, you can adjust your figures until the result is that number of years.
For example, I currently have £90k of mortgage debt and I overpay by £90 per month. Continuing to do this would save me over £5k in interest and 6 years off the term. However, if I increased that amount to £200 a month, I would pay it off a whopping 10 years and 8 months early and would save over £9k in interest.
Warning – playing around with this calculator is slightly addictive.
Your Financial Freedom Number
What is it?
In simple terms, your financial freedom number is the amount of money you’d need to have saved to live off the interest.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that…and if that sounds interesting to you I recommend googling FI/RE blogs (Financial Independence/Retire Early) as they go into faaaar more detail about this concept.
How to calculate your Financial Freedom Number
Annual Expenses / 4% (SWR) = Financial Freedom Number
Your total expected expenditure per annum. So literally every expense and purchase you make in a year, in addition to your monthly bills.
e.g I estimate our total annual expenditure to be in the region of £24k (£2k per month)
4% (Safe Withdrawal Rate)
The amount you can take from your pot each year without ever running it down to zero. This can be adjusted according to personal circumstances/opinions but generally speaking, 4% is accepted as a good benchmark
Financial Freedom Number
So, using my estimate as an example:
£24k / 4% = £600k
…I would need a pot of £600k to be financially free.
Your Net Worth
What is it?
Net worth is your total wealth. In simplistic terms, if your net worth is increasing, then so too is your financial health.
How to calculate your Net Worth
Net worth is calculated as follows:
Total Assets – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
Include anything you own that is of value.
- Bank Savings
- Your house
- Your car
- High value jewellery
Some figures you’ll be able to get exact, others will be more of an estimate.
For physical assets use the current market value. I.e How much would you receive if they sold today?
List out all the debts that you owe.
This could include:
- Credit Card debt
- Car & other finance
If you’re going to track this figure I would suggest monthly at the most, there’s really no need to track it more frequently than that because you’ll just get skewed figures when you get paid and suddenly you’re more cash rich because bills haven’t gone out yet etc.
Though calculating these figures can be motivating, it can also go the other way (if you have significant consumer debt, if your net worth is negative etc) so it’s important to take them with a pinch of salt.
There are so many variables that could affect these numbers, so don’t get hung up on them.
For example, you may have a negative net worth one month and then suddenly house prices shoot up and you’re looking at a positive net worth… or vice versa, prices could drop and suddenly you’re in the red. But has anything actually happened? You haven’t sold your house for that price and it’s likely to continue fluctuating, so don’t get bogged down.
Use these calculations to help you set goals and to keep you motivated. If they’re doing the opposite, forget about them for a bit.