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Calculating your net worth – especially when you know there’s not much “worth” in your “net” — may seem like a painful exercise with no point. In fact, only 35% of U.S. adults are confident they even understand what “net worth” means, even though 91% have heard the phrase, notes a new report from Personal Capital.

Basically it’s the difference between what you own versus what you owe. It’s one way to “get a bird’s eye view of your complete financial situation.” according to Michelle Brownstein, CFP, VP of Personal Capital Private Client Group. And it’s not just for the wealthy, she says. “Knowing where you stand can allow you to create a plan,” whether for debt management, investment goals or long-term retirement needs.

C.J. Marwitz, editor, BenefitsPRO

C.J. Marwitz, editor, writes and acquires content for the retirement advisor/plan sponsor audience at BenefitsPRO. Marwitz also considers contributed bylines on 401(k)s, pensions, financials with a DE&I focus, litigation, regulation, best practices and op-eds.  A former technology editor, advertising copywriter, and academic advisor, Marwitz is the mother of three and walker/stick-thrower to a Welsh Corgi named Leeloo Dallas Multipass.

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