A Brief Period of Positive Net Worth

by Megan McGlynn

Five years ago I took out massive student loans to get a graduate degree, and my net worth has been negative ever since. Payback is a long, slow trudge — half of every month’s loan payment doesn’t even touch the principal. I’ve settled in for the long haul of being in the red.

But last Friday, a glorious confluence of financial conditions pushed my net worth into the black — for a weekend.

1. Semi-Combined Finances. My boyfriend proposed last summer, and in a baby step toward combined finances, we opened a joint checking account. My net worth basks in the glow of this shared account, but in this pre-matrimony period, it’s not yet subject to any of my fiance’s financial liabilities. Best of both worlds!

2. Tax Return. My fiance and I both enjoyed sizable refunds this year: his because of his student status, and mine because I accidentally allowed myself zero exemptions when filling out tax paperwork. We both filled out returns promptly this year and threw the money into the joint savings account — wedding fund.

3. Pay Day. I get my monthly paycheck on the last Friday of the month. In March, the automatic deposit dropped on the 29th.

And thus: When I checked my Mint.com account on Friday, habitually gloating in the post-payday/pre-rent bubble, I noticed an unprecedented number in the left hand column under net worth. An unwontedly positive number. I had a net worth of $735.

It dipped back into the red once the joint checking account took the monthly rent hit of $945. But for those three days after my paycheck cleared and before I wrote a rent check, I commanded more capital than I owed. It felt peachy.

Megan McGlynn is a librarian in Michigan.

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