If you have a number of debt accounts, investments and (hopefully) multiple streams of income, you could probably use a map to navigate your finances. So, why not make one? It might help you make more sense of your finances. Not quite like this. Photo by Old Rollei.
As personal finance site Wallet Hacks suggests, creating a map of your financial accounts helps give you a big-picture view of where your money is going and how you need to manage it. Rather than existing as a nebulous collection of accounts you sometimes forget to log into, your map should show where all of your money is in relation to your other accounts:
You can draw your map however you like, I think it's best to go with something intuitive, but mine was relatively simple:
- Start with a list of all of your accounts — bank accounts, brokerage accounts, credit cards, Paypal, Dwolla, etc.
- Then add in all of your bills and services — cable TV/internet, utilities, Netflix
- Now draw arrows between them indicating a link — The side with an arrowhead meant I had to log into that account to draw money from the other. I'd use acronym for the link type — A for ACH transfer, BP for bill pay, DD for direct deposit.
- Remember to update this as your accounts change
You can check out a sample of what a money map looks like at the Wallet Hacks site below. The overall idea here is to know where your money is going so you don't lose track of it. You can get creative as you want with it, if it helps you. Wallet Hacks used simple lines to designate relationships between accounts. You could expand the idea by putting your investment accounts on an "island" where they're difficult to get to, while your bills and checking accounts are all clustered in the same neighbourhood. If it helps you process how to manage your finances, then go for it!