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April 23, 2021

How to get a handle on your money

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

So, you’ve finally made the choice to get a handle on your finances. What’s the best way to pull it all together and then track your progress?

Perhaps you should draw a picture … or, more precisely, a map.

A financial network map is a one-page diagram that shows the links and relationships between each of your financial accounts, which include but aren’t limited to bank, brokerage, fund, retirement, credit card, and service accounts, says Jim Wang on his Bargaineering blog. Click here and here for some other examples.

These maps are valuable for two reasons, Wang believes. First, they give you a good snapshot of your finances, something that lots of people have trouble with. Second, the exercise forces you to understand and, if you’ve got one, discuss your finances with your partner.

Communication is the key to success in any relationship, be it a marriage, a partnership or simply a friendship. Couples who successfully survive life’s financial trials are those who take the time to recognize the way money flows through their life, and who learn to talk about it effectively. And a network map is a good place to start.

Although all you really need is paper and a pencil to get started, here are a couple of free mapping programs you might want to take a look at, courtesy of the Rainy Day Pennies and Lifehacker blogs.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...