My Personal Money Map & How to Set up Yours

I’m going to explain how I designed my personal money map and how to set up your money map to effectively organize your money flow.

money map diagram

Why Create a Money Map?

My husband and I got married pretty young. After we tied the knot, we did what we believed most adults do: we set up a joint checking and savings account. 

Over time, we opened more bank accounts. We opened accounts for our children, different savings goals, etc. It got to the point where I felt like we had so many bank accounts, and I didn’t know what they were all for. Our financial goals no longer seemed clear to me.

Recently, my husband and I have been trying to get back on track with our finances, and in the process, reassessing our bank accounts has been very helpful.

I got the idea to tweak our system after seeing Bloom Budget and other financial influencers share the how they set up their money flow using a money map. I hope by sharing our current system, you are inspired to reevaluate your own money flow and get ideas on how to improve it.

What Is a Money Map?

A money map is an illustration of your personal money flow that helps you visualize the different aspects of your financial situation. A great description of a money map is that it is a “financial road map. Using your current financial information, such as your income, your debts and expenses, and other monetary considerations, you’ll develop a route. And, with a clear destination in mind, you’ll be better able to meet your financial goals.”

What Is a Money Flow?

Whether you know it or not, if you have money coming in and out of your bank accounts, you have a money flow. What is a money flow? A money flow is a casual term for a system of how money enters or leaves your personal possession. Being aware of your money flow and having an organized system can help you handle your money more efficiently.

How to Set up Your Money Map

The first step in creating your money map is to know your money flow.

To know what your money flow is, you have to take inventory of each element of your money flow. Think of all the ways your money comes into your possession and leaves your possession. How is your money “stored” when you get it?

Start by writing down every aspect of your money flow, such as:

  1. Each bank account that you have (plus the financial institution they’re at).
  2. Each credit card account. You can also list other debt or loan accounts you have open.
  3. Any other accounts you get paid or send money from, such as PayPal or Venmo.
  4. Other ways you hold onto money, such as cash envelopes, a safe, etc.
  5. Any investment accounts you contribute to.

Now that you have the pieces of the puzzle written down, you can start laying out your money map! Visualizing your money flow will help you see parts of your system that may be hindering your financial goals.

Next, I will explain my household money flow, followed by tips on how to simplify and improve your money flow!

The Elements of Our Money Flow

Our money flow is made up of five bank accounts (all of them are at the same bank and all of them are joint), one credit card (we try to not use the credit card, but it happens sometimes), and the cash envelope system.

Here is the breakdown of all of our bank accounts:

  • 3 checking accounts
    1. An account to pay bills and fixed expenses
    2. An account to pay variable expenses, like gas and groceries
    3. Our emergency fund
  • 2 savings accounts
    1. A savings account for our son
    2. A savings account for our daughter
  • 1 credit card

My Personal Money Flow

Disclaimer: Before I get into the exact system my husband and I use, keep in mind that we currently are living on a low, single income. Don’t take what I do as financial advice or a recommendation. I just want to give you a new perspective so you can decide what is best for your own situation!

Before we start spending any money, I make a budget to make sure we have a plan for every single dollar. I try to do this before any pay day.

Step One: Income is direct deposited.

The first step in our money flow occurs on pay day. We are a single-income family, so we construct our money flow around my husband’s pay periods. When I earn income, it’s a bonus!

When income comes in, whether from my husband’s job or my business, it hits our main checking account first. This checking account is a joint account, as all of our accounts are, so that means my husband and I both can see what’s in every account.

From this main checking account, flows almost everything.

Step Two: Calculate how much to leave in main account for bills.

We use our main checking account to pay for all of our bills and fixed expenses. This includes our house payment, electricity, Netflix, giving to our church, etc. After our budget is established, I can calculate exactly how much to leave in this account to pay for all the expenses. Most of our bills are set up on autopay, so we don’t have to remember all the due dates.

Step Three: Disperse money to other accounts.

Then, I take what is leftover and disperse it to other accounts. I will either transfer or withdraw money to move it for another purpose. There are three ways it could go:

Checking Account for Variable Expenses

We have another checking account/debit card that we use to pay for variable expenses like gas and groceries. While our main account is calculated to the exact cent, this account requires more surveillance. It’s easier to go outside of our budget if we’re not paying attention.

Checking Account for Emergency Fund

Another account we have is our emergency fund. We keep our emergency fund in a checking account at this time. Savings accounts usually have a minimum balance of $200-300. While we are on our debt-free journey and living on a tight budget, we are keeping our savings at a low balance. By keeping our savings in a free checking account, we may be sacrificing a couple cents of interest each month, but we have access to the whole amount in case of an emergency.

In the future when we make saving a higher priority, we will probably move our emergency fund into a high yield savings account.

Cash Envelope System

My husband and I use the cash envelope system to save for sinking funds such as car maintenance and medical costs. We also like to use cash for our own personal spending money and eating out. 

Using cash helps us avoid overspending. We have a lot of expenses coming out of our bank account, and usually not all on the same day, so it can be hard to keep track of how much spending money we have left in that bank account. If cash is not your thing, a separate checking account for spending may be helpful for you.

Step Four: Use credit card sparingly.

Outside of our bank accounts, my husband and I also have one credit card between us. Our goal is to not us the credit card unless absolutely necessary, but unfortunately, we use it a little more often than we’d like. If we use it, we try to pay it off as soon as possible.

We keep a credit card because we are keeping our emergency fund low at this time. It gives us comfort knowing we have immediate access to a little bit more money in case of an emergency. I mention our credit card to be honest about our current money flow. However, I don’t really recommend opening credit card accounts, especially if you have any unhealthy spending habits you are trying to break.

Outside of our normal money flow, we also have two savings accounts for our children We don’t currently contribute to them unless they specifically receive money, such as on their birthdays. We hope to set aside more money for them once we are in a better financial position. In addition, we have one retirement investment, but it is also a low priority for us at this time.

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips on establishing an effective money flow to help you reach your financial goals!

Condense the amount of financial institutions you use.

That is actually one switch we made when my husband and I evaluated our money flow. We used to have bank accounts at two different institutions, but I like having them all at the same location. This allows us to have online access to all of the accounts on one app, and we are able to transfer between the accounts easily on the bank’s app.

Write down your financial priorities.

For my husband and I, our priorities consist of paying off debt, building up our emergency fund, investing more, and lastly, setting aside money for our children. Figure out what your financial priorities are, so you can see if your current money flow aligns with your priorities.

Simplify as much as possible!

The key to an effective money flow is to simplify it as much as possible! The fewer accounts/steps in your money flow you have to worry about, the more you can focus on the important parts! Don’t be apathetic about your finances, or you may look back in 10 years and wonder why you didn’t accomplish what you’d hope. One major lesson I have learned on my personal financial journey is to be extremely intentional and responsible about our money.

Make Your Own Money Map

Now that I have confessed exactly what bank accounts my family has and our money flow, I hope you have picked up on some constructive ideas for your own money flow! I challenge you to make your own money flow map and share it with your spouse or budget buddy! Hang it up on the fridge and make it a part of your budget routine. You can also tag me on Instagram, and I will repost it!

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