One way to keep a handle on your financial situation is to make an annual balance sheet. It may sound complicated, but it is really just a list of all your financial assets and debts. If you make one every year and track your progress (or lack of progress) over the years, then you will be in a better position to understand your finances. You may be surprised by the results, and knowledge is power. After it is all done, be sure to share it with your partner so your situation is in the open.
Your assets (the things you own) should include all bank accounts, stocks, IRA’s, 401k’s, etc. Anything that has actual cash value. Do include your home equity – the value of your home minus the amount you owe on it. Don’t include physical property such as cars, clothes, collections, etc.
Liabilities are your debts. Do include credit card and consumer loans.
The only hard part is collecting all the information, and that gets easier the more you do it. The actual balance sheet can be just a list of assets with their value, a list of liabilities with their value, and your net worth (assets minus liabilities). Or you can follow the sample that I have provided here.
The numbers in parentheses are negative. This is bad. The key to having a positive net worth is getting rid of the debts. Then gradually add to the savings, and you will be on the way to wealth.