Money Map: How We Manage Our Finances

finances map

Last week I came across a new “blog chain” that a number of financial bloggers were taking part in. The challenge is to create a money map, which is a visual way to show how your money flows. This includes how your money is coming in via your income sources and the various ways it’s going out: checking account, savings accounts, investments, credit cards, and bills.

I’ve always loved the concept, which I first heard about from Ramit Sethi in his article discussing automating your finances. Sometimes having so many accounts can be overwhelming, a money map helps you visualize where your money is going in a simple way.

I’m a big fan of simplicity, and our money map is relatively simple compared to some of the others you’ll see. Nevertheless, it works very well for us and has been easy to track.

Here’s our money map:

money map

First, money is deducted directly from our paychecks and deposited into our 401(k)’s. I also am enrolled in an FSA (flexible spending account for medical expenses) and an ESPP (employee stock purchase plan).

The rest of our paychecks are deposited into one joint checking account. From there, it flows to bills, our Ally savings accounts, and paying off our credit card (which we use for almost all expenses). In my recent travel hacking update I discuss how we have multiple credit cards, but we tend to use only one at a time for simplicity.

The biggest key that makes our whole system work so well for us is that everything is automated. All bills (including credit cards) are set to auto-pay and our 401(k) investments are deducted before the money even hits our checking account. I schedule our savings and extra debt payments at the beginning of each month. This reduces the hassle and increases our chance of succeeding in reaching our various goals. I check Mint each morning on my phone to monitor that our expenses look normal and everything is flowing properly. The whole system took some time to set up, but now maintaining it only involves a few minutes each month!

This is a valuable exercise, and I’d highly recommend drawing out your own money map to make sure you know where everything is going. If you’re a blogger, be sure to join into the “blog chain” and include the rest of the chain participants!

Money Map Chain

Anchors: Apathy EndsBudget on a Stick

#1: The Luxe Strategist
#2: Adventure Rich
#3: Minafi
#4: Othalafehu
#5: The Frugal Gene
#6: Working Optional
#7: Our Financial Path
#8: Atypical Life
#9: Eccentric Rich Uncle
#10: Cantankerous Life
#11: The Retirement Manifesto
#12: Debts to Riches
#13: Need2Save
#14: Money Metagame
#15: CYinnovations
#16: I Dream of FIRE
#17: Stupid Debt
#18: Spills Spot
#19: Making Your Money Matter
#20: Life Zemplified
#21: Trail to FI
#22: The Lady in the Black
#23: Smile & Conquer
#24: Her Money Moves
#25: Full Time Finance
#26: Abandoned Cubicle
#27: Freedom is Groovy

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4 Responses

  1. Nice! Looks like your map is rather simple, which is good! I may have to jump on this!

  2. Cubert says:

    Kudos on the nice map! I’m a fan of keeping it simple and that’s hopefully reflected in my map.
    I need to reconsider using Mint it seems – everyone is either on that or Personal Capital.

    • Matt Spillar says:

      Thanks Cubert! I love Mint, it takes some initial setup, but now it has made our budgeting/expense tracking so smooth from month to month. I use Personal Capital as well. Both apps have their strengths: Mint for budgeting/expense tracking and Personal Capital for investments/net worth/retirement planning.

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