There has been a trend going around in the personal finance community recently, and that’s creating your money map. This all stems back to two bloggers (Apathy Ends and Budget on a Stick) who published their money maps and inspired the rest of us to do the same. Today I’m jumping on the bandwagon and sharing mine.
So what is a money map?
For any of you who haven’t already seen one of these posts somewhere else, you’re likely wondering ‘what the heck is a money map?’ Simply put, it’s a fun little graphic showing where your money comes from and where it all goes. It’s a visual way of looking at your finances and giving you a new perspective on how simple or complicated things are. Many people use apps or spreadsheets to keep track of their money but not as many people have created a money map (that’s changing now though!) Having a visual to refer back to is helpful, especially for those of us who happen to be better with pretty pictures than numbers.
And onto my map…
At first glance it all looks a little complicated, doesn’t it? I thought so too, but when you break it down it’s not that bad…so let’s do just that.
I have one primary source of income, my day job. Shockingly (not really) this blog doesn’t exactly bring me in the big bucks, so I don’t count it. Other than taxes, my whole pay cheque comes straight to me. I don’t have a group savings plan through work or anything like that. Everything else happens from my chequing (aka the ‘Star-Lord’ account). All those actions can be further broken down into five categories (the blue puzzle pieces): Bills, Debt, Fun Money, Savings and Investments. More on those in a second.
One way my money map differs from some of the others is that the bf and I keep our money almost entirely separate. I talk more about how we handle this and why we haven’t combined things here. I, being the more financially inclined and controlling partner, have the majority of our bills coming out of my accounts. To make up for this, the bf sends an email money transfer my way every month. That might sound strange to some people, but it works for us. I still get to be in charge of the day to day stuff, he doesn’t need to worry about it, and we both get to handle our own things independently. Honestly, I think that knowing what he spends every dollar own would be bad for my sanity.
The first spending category I have are bills that are paid straight from my chequing account. (Side note…are all you American readers judging my Canadian spelling of ‘cheque’?) I try to pay for everything possible on my credit card (points baby!), but there are a few things that have to be done from a bank account. Those four I have listed in that pink box are the only bills I pay directly from my chequing account, and they are all automated.
Next up is the debt component. I currently have two credit cards and a secured line of credit. The pink box over on this side are also automated payments that come off my primary credit card. Both credit cards are paid off in full each month and those payments I do manually since the amounts vary. My line of credit does have a balance but the interest rate is low, so I’m ok with it for now. I pay a set amount on that each month, plus any extra money I come up with. This one I also pay each month manually.
I contribute equal amounts to my RRSP and TFSA each month, and these are both automated. For me, it makes sense to take advantage of both. I get the future tax savings of the TFSA as well as the current tax refund the RRSP brings. If you’re not sure which option is right for you, then head on over to this post for more details. Both of my investment contributions are also set to run on auto-pilot.
The big difference between savings and investing is that my savings are kept at the bank and in cash, whereas my investments are in the market. The whole purpose of savings accounts is to have the money safe and readily available. I don’t want a bad week in the markets to prevent me from going on vacation that year. I’m in favour of having separate accounts for each savings goal I have…I used to have more than the four I have listed here. My emergency fund is fully funded right now, hence the green. My current system has me contributing to a Christmas fund from September through to December and then contributing to my Summer fund from January through to June. I take July and August off (except for the travel fund) because those always end up being my highest spending months. In the Winter I turn into a hermit, so my spending goes way down.
I saved the best for last. This category is a bit of a lie but stick with me. I actually do almost all of my spending on my credit cards. I find it’s easier to keep track of my spending (as opposed to cash), and there’s the added benefit of earning rewards. Technically that means this should be included in the debt category, but I don’t see it that way. Because I pay it off every month it never really becomes debt. Money also doesn’t need to be serious all the time. Giving myself a ‘fun’ category on my money map is a reminder not to feel guilty about spending money on small luxuries.
The one thing that ensures my money map functions efficiently is automating as many processes as possible. You’ll notice that everything marked in pink runs automatically. It requires no thinking from me on a monthly basis, only a quick check-in if something significant changes (like a raise or a new expense).
In case you’re interested in creating your map, I used Canva to make the graphic (it’s a free design/editing software site that I use to make many of the images/infographics on the blog). I thought it was a fun project, but it also took way longer than it looks! These things always do for me though; I get way too into choosing templates and picking colours.
I mentioned at the start of the post that I’m following in the foot steps of a bunch of other bloggers who have created their own money maps. If you’d like to see how other people handle things then here’s a handy list so you can go check them out!
Budget on a Stick
The Luxe Strategist
The Frugal Gene
Our Financial Path
Eccentric Rich Uncle
The Retirement Manifesto
Debts to Riches
I Dream of FIRE
Making Your Money Matter
Trail to FI
The Lady in the Black
Her Money Moves
Full Time Finance
Freedom is Groovy