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Career Planning

How Much Are You Worth?

Your first instinct is probably to tote up all of your assets and subtract your liabilities. That is your net worth, and one way to get a snapshot of your monetary worth.

Articles by Betterment Editors

By the Editorial Staff
Betterment Resource Center  |  Published: November 26, 2012

It’s common to wonder how much you are worth. Your first instinct is probably to tote up all of your assets and subtract your liabilities. That is your net worth, and one way to get a snapshot of your monetary worth.

Another way that many of us set value in dollar terms relates to an annual salary or an hourly wage. How much you make is often a status thing, conveying to others what society thinks you are worth.

Your worth, though, can’t just be boiled down to raw numbers. There is more to you than just the size of your bank account, or the amount of money you make each year at a job. Your total worth also includes your human capital, and the other assets you bring to the table:

Skills and Knowledge

Your skills and knowledge can be worth a lot more than you think. Even if you aren’t being paid a lot right now, the skills that you develop might eventually lead to higher pay later. You might even have skills that translate across career fields. Your skills can also help you in your daily life, enriching your experiences. These experiences can be worth more than mere money as the years go by.

Additionally, the knowledge you gain is virtually priceless. No one can take what you learn away from you, and it can be applied in a number of ways to improve your earning power, as well as to help you manage your financial resources in a savvy manner. Knowledge you store up can be used in a number of ways in your non-work life, to enhance it. You can’t put a price on happiness in life.

What about Your Time?

One of the things that I am keenly aware of is the fact that I can’t get time back. Earlier this year, I was stuck in a rut. I had a lot of work, and made good money, but I spent almost all of my time working. I felt stressed and harried, and I didn’t have a lot of time with my son.

All of a sudden, because I didn’t have much of it, time became much more valuable than money. I looked at my priorities, and realized that my life had more worth to me than just making money. I also wanted time for me, and time for my family.

The time that you have is part of your overall worth. Consider, too, what you do with your free time. Are you working to improve yourself, or your relationships with others. The way you interact with others, as well as the steps you take to gain more knowledge or skills, or learn a hobby, can add to your overall human capital, whether you use what you gain in a job, or just confine it to your day-to-day life.

Look at Your Life as a Whole

Before getting hung up on money, consider your life as a whole. Some things, like family relationships and happiness, can’t be bought with money. Reconsider your definition of wealth, and realize that your value is in more than just your annual salary.

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