What is an asset

What is a financial asset?

Five financial assets you don’t know you have

The word ‘asset’ has a rigid accounting interpretation, though let’s keep things simple and stick with the Oxford dictionary definition which considers an asset to be “A person or thing that is valuable or useful to somebody/something.” In contrast, Oxford defines a liability as “A person or thing that causes you a lot of problems.”

Most of us understand financial assets as something that we own such as cash, private property, investments (including KiwiSaver), and even household furnishings and collectibles. Financial liabilities are usually considered to be debts owed by a person or a business.

Personal finances aren’t always a simple area, so read on to see if you have any of the following unconventional financial assets…

You might also be interested in the sister-piece to this article – the five financial liabilities you don’t know you have.

1. Friends

Surrounding yourself with positive people is a sure-fire way to get ahead over the long run. For example:

  • It’s human nature that we feel a need to conform to those around us. In that sense, if your friends are high achievers, you’re more likely to aim higher than you otherwise would.
  • Good friends will help you overcome problems, just like you’ll help them.
  • Friends may contribute to your success by providing connections to practical information, people, and opportunities to help you succeed. Think about it - your friends have probably done you favours such as giving you jobs or tasks, set you up on dates, and introduced you to other friends.
  • The best friends will offer you absolute honesty or “tough love” when you occasionally need that too.

2. Family

At very-best, a well-aligned family can be a financial juggernaut – unstoppable on a quest towards jointly-held financial goals. Though all families are different, here are some tips to ensure your family (including spouse) is an asset:

  • Have goals that inspire you and keep them in the front of your mind.
  • Choose your words carefully. Saying “we can’t afford it” for every $10 purchase you’d rather not make is probably not 100 percent accurate. Perhaps a better way to explain this is “that’s not how we choose to spend, let’s put that sum aside for our big goal instead”.
  • Include the entire family in financial discussions.
  • When it comes to children, an allowance is a great way to explain the difference between:
    • Spending,
    • Saving,
    • Donating, and
    • Investing.

3. Your ability to earn

Ask yourself:

  • How do you keep food on the table?
  • How do you pay the rent or mortgage?
  • How do you pay bills?
  • How are you setting aside something for the future? (Including KiwiSaver)

The answer to all questions above, of course, is by your income. For younger people who haven’t yet built up the ability to live off their investments, the ability to generate income is typically their greatest financial asset.

Value in this area should be increased by improving areas such as education, performance, and professional networks. Of course, value in this area should be protected too.

4. Your attitude

People with positive attitudes see the good in situations and the opportunities in problems. They use uplifting language when talking to others and in their self-talk and take responsibility for their actions. They lift others up and are confident, sincere and able to adapt easily.

Over time, having a positive attitude is measurable – it results in promotions, fewer sick days, and increased productivity. Having a positive attitude is more than just smiling and having an upbeat personality - it's a way of being in all parts of your life.

Ask yourself, is your attitude an asset or liability?

The good news is that we are totally and fully in control of our attitude, so even if you can’t answer that question the way you like, you can change your attitude.

5. Your health

Good health is priceless. Not least of all because good health enables you to keep earning income, and of course enables you to enjoy what you’ve already earned! (Think about it, you may have the most supportive family, all the wealth you ever wanted, the best friends, a fantastic attitude, and great ability to earn – but that all amounts to nothing if you’re not healthy enough to make the most of it).

As your health is probably your most valuable financial asset, it should be protected and guarded at nearly all costs.

What next?

Now you’ve reviewed your assets, what better time to consider the opposite of above – the five financial liabilities you don’t know you have.