NetworthIQ: The Facebook of Finance

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s long been considered taboo to disclose too much about your personal finances in public, but one site is starting to change that and, in the process, make consumers more attentive to their bank account.

NetworthIQ.com is essentially Facebook for your finances. Like other social networking sites, users can pick a screen name and provide personal information like how old they are, where they’re from and in which industry they work. But the site also allows users to create a profile that features a rundown of all of their major assets (cash, stocks, personal property, money saved for retirement, etc.) and all their major debts (mortgages, student loans, credit card debt and more).

Once users have plugged in these numbers, the site will calculate your total net worth and create a chart to illustrate how that value changes from month to month and year to year.

On the surface, this might seem like the most boring social network in the world. When I was younger, nothing put me to sleep faster than watching my dad balance his checkbooks. But for those on the site, it can be exhilarating. “The net-worth number… is more appealing when you have someone else’s to compare it with,” Ron Lieber noted in a recent New York Times story about the site. “We tend to have an intense curiosity about our neighbors and friends, especially those who seem to earn about what we do but spend a lot more.”

Lieber spoke with several users who confessed that having their net worth number in plain sight forced them to be more money conscious and in some sense, to compete with other users on the site and improve their finances. “I know people are visiting, and it makes me want to pay something else off so I can post another entry that’s something good,” Stephanie Grant, a user with a net worth of negative $23,000, told the Times.

The range of wealth on the site is staggering to say the least. One user named didm who works in the healthcare industry claims to have more than $14 million in net worth, thanks largely to an incredible stock portfolio worth $11.5 million. On the other hand, ricohitman claims his net worth is just $2,866, largely because of a hefty mortgage he still needs to pay off.

Obviously, there is the possibility that these numbers are less than exact, partly because users can choose what they want to disclose, but that doesn’t really defeat the purpose of the site, as long as you are honest about your own finances.

Now, it seems the big question here is whether or not this site is safe to use. Last month, we reported on another site that tried to combine personal finances with social networking only to accidentally end up revealing the credit card information of some of its users. This kind of risk certainly seems unlikely on NetworthIQ, since users are not disclosing actual account information. That said, the drawbacks of this site seem mostly to be social ones. If you publicize the fact that you have a lot of extra cash, don’t be surprised if your friends and family come knocking on your door. Similarly, if you advertise your massive debt, it could potentially be used against you by prospective employers and lenders down the road, who might be weary of your economic stability.

So I would recommend you limit the amount of personal information that could be used to identify you. This site may one day succeed in changing the way we look at each other’s bank accounts, but for now, it is still a sensitive subject for most.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

Show Comments

Back to Top