As you hopefully know, a monthly calendar is an invaluable tool for keeping track of important dates and events. Many of us even rely on calendars to keep our entire lives in order. But have you ever thought about adding your budget to your calendar?
I’m sure you know how important it is to create a budget. But, at the same time, creating a budget can be daunting. And sticking to your budget even more so. I can tell you that when I first started budgeting, I nearly gave up in frustration.
Despite this, living paycheck to paycheck is no way to live — which is valid for 7 in 10 people. It’s stressful and prevents you from achieving your goals. While a budget won’t completely resolve your financial woes, it can help. After all, you can keep track of your financial goals, track your bills, and manage your cash flow with a budget calendar.
In short, if you want to be financially successful, then you need a budget calendar. And, to get you started on the right foot, here’s how to set yourself for financial success using a budget calendar.
What is a Budget Calendar?
Simply put, a budget calendar is a calendar that tracks payments and due dates. More specifically, it helps estimate how much money you have coming in and out each month. Your existing calendar, whether paper or digital, will work just fine. But, there are more than enough apps and templates designed specifically for budget calendars.
Whatever calendar you use, it should contain the following;
- Income. You should mark your calendar once you know when your next paycheck is coming, or at least when to expect it.
- Bills. Make a list of regular expenses. Examples would be rent and credit card, and cellphone bills. Don’t forget to include infrequent bills as well. These could be semiannual car insurance payments or an annual Disney Plus subscription.
- Savings contributions. Saving up for an emergency fund, vacation, or car down payment can be achieved by regularly transferring funds to an account.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to log small or irregular transactions as well. Even so, it may be challenging to budget every single cup of coffee or grocery bill estimate.
Why a Budget Calendar Is Important
Did you know only 30% of Americans have a long-term financial plan in place? As a result, we can stay on top of our income, save money more effectively, and ensure that our money isn’t spent exorbitantly with a budget.
Furthermore, if you want to escape living paycheck to paycheck, then having a budget is essential.
The good news? Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is finding a budgeting style that makes sense for you. You’ll be more likely to stay on track to reach your financial goals when you do that.
Choosing a budget calendar will benefit you in the following ways;
- Assess your income
- More accurately plan your spending by tracking your expenses
- Get a better grasp of your living expenses
- Identify where you can eliminate unnecessary costs
- You will be able to tackle any debt more quickly
- Make a future-oriented plan
The advantage of using calendars is that they assist you in seeing when things are due. More than a quarter of millennials had their checking accounts overdrawn, but a Calendar can be a solution to dealing with the anxiety of late payments. Your Calendar will help you to avoid late payments. And in my opinion, a calendar has a much easier learning curve than most budgeting software.
How to Make a Budget Calendar
Hopefully, you’re sold on a budget calendar because of the benefits listed above. So, how do you actually set up a Calendar for your budget? You’ll first need to choose what type of calendar to use.
You need a blank calendar, and this could just be an old-school paper calendar if you prefer. But a digital or calendar app will likely work best for you. For example, if you already use Google Calendar, you can make a separate budget calendar. You can then access that calendar whenever and wherever you please.
What Should Be Included on Your Budget Calendar
Budget calendars are helpful regardless of how you budget or the tools you use. Whatever your budgeting method, either weekly, biweekly, or monthly — here’s what should be included on your budget calendar.
Be sure to include the dates you receive your paychecks when you prepare your calendar. If you’re self-employed, and you’re unsure when your checks will arrive, a budget calendar can still be handy.
In any case, if your income fluctuates, keep a careful eye on the rest of your portfolio to understand when bills are due. It can also help you get a sense of your overall financial health. Throughout the year, you can review past calendars so you’ll know when to spend more and less money.
Write down the due date of any bill on the calendar. Monitoring your spending will help you avoid impulsive and unnecessary spending before a bill is due. More importantly, don’t forget to schedule a time in your calendar to review your bills periodically. For example, maybe you paid off a debt, or your electric bill has changed since the last time you checked.
Knowing your bills’ due dates will help you avoid common financial mistakes. For example, have you ever forgotten to pay a bill on the due date? Having your bills listed on a Calendar with an alert can also help prevent overspending since you know that you have enough to cover your fixed expenses.
Here’s another perk. I’ve noticed the majority of the monthly bills fell in the first two weeks of the month. For some people, this isn’t a big deal. But, if you have irregular income or live paycheck-to-check, this can be stressful.
When you see when each of your bills is due, you can make a plan of action—for instance, calling each company and requesting a more even distribution. You may also save a little extra every pay period if you spread your bills out so you can more easily manage other expenses such as groceries and gas.
Note the days when you automatically withdraw money from your bank account on your budget calendar. It does not matter whether this financial goal is putting money toward a retirement plan, college fund, or emergency savings. If you are not saving money regularly, you should also designate a specific day as a saving day.
Special Events and Holidays.
According to the time of year, every month will look different. Budget calendars should include special occasions, holidays, and birthdays. Putting money aside for a family dinner party or buying a gift for a baby shower will help you remember to include these expenses in your budget.
Design Elements for a Budget Calendar
By incorporating the correct design elements into your calendar, you can significantly increase the likelihood of sticking to it. In addition, visual elements can be used to make your calendars more visually appealing, as well as effective tools.
Choose the right size.
Make it easy to stick to your budget calendar by picking a size that works for you. No one size will work for everyone. For example, say you are always on the run. It might not be wise to create a huge budgeting binder that you have to lug around. Instead, a digital calendar on your phone will work better. Have something light and easy to access.
Making your budget calendar colorful can help you stay on track more easily. Why? Because specific dates and entries will pop.
Here are a few ways to color-code your calendar;
- Various paychecks. You can use different colors to identify which bills each paycheck will cover if you get paid multiple times a month.
- To categorize expenses according to their type. For example, if you’re planning to transfer money to savings, you might highlight monthly bills in one color and monthly bills in another.
- Assigning bills. If you have a partner or roommate who shares expenses, you can create a joint budget calendar and use color-coding to keep track of everyone’s responsibilities.
How to Maintain Your Budget
It can be challenging to devote consistent time to budgeting — especially if you don’t find numbers exciting. However, even if you don’t like numbers — budging doesn’t have to be troublesome.
In fact, budgeting can be a relatively easy task if you keep a calendar.
Invest one afternoon or morning per month into your budget. Preferably, this would be on the days that you get paid, such as on the first or fifteenth of the month. A calendar review with each paycheck enables you to adjust and adapt accordingly.
Regardless of the exact day, it’s easier to maintain a budget calendar if you have a set date. If possible, plan for a month in advance, but even more, is better.
If you’re using a digital calendar or app, then you can set reminders so that you won’t forget. You can, for instance, create a recurring calendar reminder for payday so you don’t forget to review your budget. To stay on top of your budget calendar, you can also use calendar reminders. Remember, follow-through is key to making your plan successful.
Do I Need a Budget Calendar?
Maybe you don’t have to have a budget Calendar — however, a budget is essential. I applaud you if you can manage your money in your head, but very few people can budget in their heads — even if they are good at math. While at that same time putting money away for a vacation, retirement fund, emergency savings, or just for fun is beneficial to your best self.
But remember it’s crucial to figure out how to manage your money to suit your needs. One tool that might be useful to you is a budget calendar. If you want to live well and reach your goals you must have some sort of budget, whether you keep track of the numbers in your head or on a budget calendar — or have your tax person handle this for you.
Set Yourself Up for Financial Success With a Budget Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!