FEWER PEOPLE seem to be making financial resolutions for 2015.
In its annual poll of New Year's resolutions, Fidelity Investments found that only 31 percent of survey participants said they were considering setting a financial objective, down from 43 percent a year ago.
Similarly, Allianz Life Insurance found that people were more concerned about their waistlines than their wallets - their description, not mine. Only 30 percent of respondents in Allianz's survey chose financial fitness as a top goal for 2015.
Both companies surmise that Americans are more confident about their financial situations and thus aren't feeling the pressure to focus on finances. The economy is healthier. Interest rates are still super-low. The percentage of people saying now is a good time to find a quality job jumped to 36 percent in December, a long way up from the 8 percent level of confidence that Americans had in the job market in November 2011, according to Gallup. And the stock market has been roaring, boosting investment portfolios and in many cases erasing the losses of the Great Recession.
Certainly one's health is important - I know I'm promising myself to get more sleep and exercise - but your financial well-being is equally vital.
But we can't forget the past. The recession and its trials and tribulations should be a constant reminder of how low things can go. Don't get cocky by letting your confidence lead you right back to mistakes that left you more vulnerable than you should have been.
One exercise that can humble you is to take a key financial assessment. After you do this checkup, you'll know what, if anything, you'll need to do to improve your financial situation.
So, when was the last time you calculated your net worth?
It is different from your income. There are a lot of pretenders, people who appear rich but are really paupers because they have a negative net worth. Net worth is the difference between your total assets and liabilities or, simply put, what you owe minus what you own. The more you own, the larger your net worth.
Bankrate.com has an online net-worth calculator that's nicely organized and does the math for you. I like a lot of things about the calculator. It explains the various items that go on the assets-and-liabilities side of your net-worth statement. It can estimate how much your assets might change in value over 10 years by allowing you to select an average annual rate of increase - or decrease, if you know you'll be taking on some debt in the near future.
You'll have to estimate the value of household assets. For your major assets, such as your automobiles and home, you'll have to find out the current market value. For your home, try Zillow.com or Realtor.com. For your car, a number of online resources - Consumer Reports, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader and CarGurus - can help determine how much you could get for your vehicle.
Once you've calculated your net worth, you have a starting point to see how you're doing.