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Monday, November 28, 2011

Map Your Financial Accounts To See the Big Picture

Process mapping is a valuable technique for seeing the whole picture of something. While online recently I saw a great article about using process mapping in your financial accounts. A financial network map is a one-page diagram that shows the links and relationships between each of your financial accounts.

Creating a map of your accounts and bills gives you a better picture of your financial world. Financial blog Bargaineering shows you how to diagram your accounts:
  1. First, list of your accounts on a separate sheet.
  2. Now begin linking them together, indicating what type of link it is. You may have to log into your account to confirm the links.
  3. Now list all the investment related accounts you have, adding the links in as needed. This includes taxable brokerage accounts, IRAs, 401(k).
  4. Now list all the credit cards you have, linking to the banks that are used to pay the bills.
  5. Now list all the service accounts you have (electricity, cable, internet, Netflix, etc.), link them to the proper credit card or bank account bill pay. 

You’ll also notice the map lacks color. I think adding color to the types of accounts (yellow for checking, green for savings, red for credit cards, blue for service accounts, etc.) would be valuable in giving the map some more clarity. The point is to get the big picture view of your accounts so you can see if you need to simplify, where you might have any weaknesses, and so on. 

Just like in the process maps you create in your organization you can glean a lot of wisdom about your system, in this case your financial system.

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