EXACTLY how I set up my financial accounts from my checking, saving and credit card accounts to my retirement accounts. Knowing your own financial map is invaluable!

My Exact Financial Account Setup (From Checking to Retirement Accounts)

EXACTLY how I set up my financial accounts from my checking, saving and credit card accounts to my retirement accounts. Knowing your own financial map is invaluable!

Confession: I use to be a scrapbooker. However, I never actually finished any of the scrapbooks that I started. I spent 90% of my scrapbook time organizing all my supplies and 10% (possibly less) actually creating scrapbook pages.

Fortunately, I accomplish a lot more with my finances, but it’s another thing that I love to organize. I hear all the time that “no one loves to budget, but it’s really necessary if you want to get ahead financially.” Well, you know what?

Confession #2: I love to budget. Making a plan each month and being able to see how that plan is helping me to achieve the things I really want (like travel) is really rewarding to me. I’d rather budget than any other household task (especially washing dishes, yuck).

When I saw how Apathy Ends created his account map, I knew this was something that I absolutely needed in my life as well. I discovered in this process that I have 24 separate accounts that I use every single month. Thank goodness for automation!

Here’s how my financial map looks overall:

THE CORE ACCOUNTS

At the most basic level, I use cash, checking, savings and credit card accounts for my day-to-day living expenses. I check each and every one of these core accounts on at least a weekly basis to make sure that there are no fraudulent charges as well as to track my expenses.

My checking and savings accounts are at the same bank. I try to keep my checking account to the minimum I need to pay my regular bills, just in case my account was ever compromised. My savings account usually holds a small amount of extra money for expected, but non-monthly expenses like semi-annual insurance premiums, minor home repairs and simply as a buffer if I have a month of higher than usual spending.

I have more than four credit cards, but these are the ones that I use on a consistent basis. In reality, it’s generally a little more complicated than this because I also open other credit cards from time to time to do a little travel hacking. I do, for the most part, try to limit my online purchases to one specific credit card.

INDIVIDUAL ALLOWANCES

Allocating separate allowances to my husband and I may possibly have been the smartest money move I’ve ever made. Our monthly allotment is directly transferred once monthly from our regular checking account to our individual bank accounts.

We choose to have separate bank accounts for our allowances for several reasons. One reason is that one of our insurance companies gives a sizeable discount if we hold an account at a specific local credit union. We don’t prefer to do our regular banking there, so this is a good option for us.

I’ve explained before how we track our kids’ allowances using Famzoo. These accounts are essentially a series of linked prepaid cards. I automatically transfer a lump sum each month from my checking account to the main prepaid card (labeled Mom’s Card) and then can instantaneously transfer funds to the cards for my 3 kids. I do have automatic transfers set up in FamZoo for weekly allowances, but can also manually transfer funds for extra chores and to deposit birthday money.

BUSINESS ACCOUNTS

I keep a separate business account related to my LLC income and expenses. I prepared a couple tax returns for a fee this year, so this money all went into my business account. It is ESSENTIAL that you keep business funds separate from personal funds, especially if you have an LLC.

In addition, we currently have one rental property and have set up a separate account both for tracking reasons and to allow the tenants to directly deposit rent into the bank account.

If we don’t currently need to keep the money in either of these accounts for expected expenses, I transfer it to our main checking account.

OTHER SAVING & INVESTING

In addition to our regular savings account that is linked to our checking account, we have several other saving accounts that we use as well.

I’ve talked about what an amazing tool a Health Savings Account (HSA) is and it was our first savings priority after an emergency fund. We are able to pay for all of our medical bills with pre-tax funds (including pre-FICA taxes!) and save for future medical expenses and we can even use the funds for general retirement at age 65. We are currently funding the maximum amount allowed to this account directly through payroll deposits.

Our online savings account earns about a 1% interest rate (as opposed to our regular savings account at around .1%), so that’s where we keep the bulk of our emergency account (approximately 3-6 months worth of expenses). We also keep funds in our online savings account that have more of an intermediate-term purpose such as when we were saving for our major home renovation. It takes approximately 3 days to transfer funds from our online savings to our checking account via ACH transfer, so it is well-separated from our day-to-day spending accounts.

Because we have our emergency account funded and are on track with contributing sufficiently to meet our retirement goals, we also contribute to college savings plans for each of our 3 children. Our automatically transferred contributions should be sufficient to fund half of their tuition at an in-state public school.

A small amount of money is also transferred automatically to our taxable brokerage account. I’ll be sharing more on this in the future! We aren’t contributing a lot because we would rather contribute to our Roth IRA while we can, but even small amounts matter.

RETIREMENT

Retirement certainly isn’t our last priority for our money, but it’s the last one discussed here. We have two accounts that we regularly contribute to: a 401(k) through my husband’s employer and a Roth IRA. The traditional IRA is from my previous employment (I rolled my 401k into this account and haven’t contributed since).

The 401(k) contributions are made directly via payroll deposit. We receive generous employer matching as well as some additional employer funds that aren’t dependent on us contributing.

In addition, we contribute each month to a Roth IRA via automatic transfers from our checking account. I consider our Roth IRA as part of our emergency fund and part of our retirement plan, as we would be able to withdraw all of our personal contributions tax and penalty-free at any time.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It appears that I’m far from being a minimalist when it comes to my financial accounts. I definitely feel that each and every account serves its own purpose and of course, many of the accounts have to be separate due to varying taxability (such as the retirement and college savings plans).

A couple of quick thoughts come to mind when discussing my account setup:

  • Automation is KEY to being successful in saving and investing. It would take a significant amount of time to contribute and move money around without setting up automatic transfers. With them, I only spend about 15 minutes per week on budgeting and transferring funds.
  • The more accounts you have, the more benefit you get from using personal finance software (I personally love YNAB).

What do you think…do I have too many accounts? What does your financial map look like?


Update: check out some money maps from some other amazing personal finance bloggers below!

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

LIKED IT? PLEASE SHARE!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

20 Responses

  1. Love the flow chart! Having a purpose for every account definitely makes things more organized. Not to mention different account types serve different purposes (especially for leveraging the tax code).

  2. I was always a wannabe scrapbooker too. Had all the supplies and mounds of pictures, and that’s about what I still have today. No completed books, just a couple pages.

    At first glance, it seems you own lots of accounts, but it also sounds like you have the management of them down to a science so I’d say you’re good. Will you consider a Solo 401k or SEP with business growth?

    Doing a quick count in my head, I think we are at 18 accounts. Like you I use automation for them all. Personal Capital helps me keep and eye on them too.

    I too enjoyed Apathy Ends financial map post and it’s nice to see your take on it too. Thanks for sharing Kathryn.

    1. I think considering a solo 401k or SEP is a little optimistic at this point, lol. I link all of them up to my software so I can see them at a glance and that definitely makes it seem like less. I was actually surprised I had that many!

  3. Wow, thanks a lot for this chart. I realized I have to do the same for our family. It will help us to undertsand better the whole picture of the money flow in our family.

  4. Love this, Kathryn! You and I operate similarly – with both scrapbooking and budgeting. 🙂 I am certainly not minimalist when it comes to my accounts either. I didn’t do a map, but I have a post coming out in June similar to this one. As I wrote it, I was trying to figure out which accounts I could eliminate, but felt like they all served a purpose for me.

    You are soooo right about the automation. Even with multiple accounts, when you have the automation chugging along, it doesn’t take much time at all – basically it’s a matter of checking in to make sure everything is running smoothly. Plus, savings is set it and forget it, which means it always gets done!

    1. After I saw how many accounts, I came to the same conclusion. I felt like I should probably eliminate, but ultimately think the extra couple months it adds is worth it to me. Plus, I’m a money nerd so it’s not something I dread doing.

  5. “Our monthly allotment is directly transferred once monthly from our regular checking account to our individual bank accounts”

    My wife and I use a similar allotment. But I operate with cash on a monthly basis to control my discretionary spending and she uses a debit card because it includes grocery, dining, and healthcare budget items.

  6. Thanks for the shout out, glad to see you found the financial map beneficial!

    And yes – Automation is amazing, not sure I would be able to manage our money without it

    1. Who knew creating a financial map would be so fun? ;). I really should simplify, but I’m attached to all of my accounts, lol.

  7. Those maps are so cool. What did you use to draw those out?
    It would be interesting to see everything on one big map.
    This is a great excercise to do and maybe an opportunity to reduce some uneeded accounts. I think with a big family these accounts just give birth to other accounts.
    Once we retire there will be more opportunity to reduce and consolidates some of those.
    I’m in the same boat as you. The only way I can keep track of my accounts is with software like personal capital or mint. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I used Adobe Photoshop CC to draw them, but with enough patience I think you could even do them in Word fairly easily. I’ll definitely be able to consolidate a bit more when the kids are grown and we are retired!

      1. Late to the party… Love your website, and your content! Still going through everything, but doing the annual Financial Plan.

        I would like to make a Money Map. Is there another product besides Photoshop CC I could use? I believe Adobe charges for that. Something in MS possibly? I’m not sure how to create this in Word.

        Thanks!

  8. I love budgeting too! I get such a thrill when I come in under my budget goals every month. Great post – gave me some awesome budgeting ideas.

  9. Great post! Very well laid-out map and insightful descriptions. You put mine to shame! ?
    Curious if you have a mortgage and if so, have you thought of using a HELOC as your emergency fund?
    Love the automated rent idea – I need something like that for our tenants.

    1. I do have a mortgage, yes. I’ve considered using a HELOC as an emergency fund, but decided it’s not the best option for us. Lines of credit could potentially go away and I’m not as concerned with increasing my investment returns as much as I am creating security for myself.
      And yes, I loved the automated rent. There’s a few great ways to set that up!

Comments are closed.