How to Use a Budget Calendar

We already schedule so many things in our normal, everyday lives, from doctor appointments to soccer practice, car maintenance to gym workouts, and summer vacations to mani/pedis at the salon. Why wouldn’t we make a schedule for our money? That’s where a budget calendar comes in. What’s a budget calendar, you ask? It’s simple; a budget calendar is a budgeting tool to help you manage your money and achieve your financial goals, both short term and long term. It works a lot like a regular calendar helps you manage your time. With a budget calendar, you can record when your paydays hit, bookmark important due dates, ensure that all your bills are paid on time, and see when your debts will be paid off.

Some of the benefits of using a monthly budget calendar include:

• Helps control impulse spending
• Keeps you apprised of upcoming events that may cost extra
• Helps you plan for upcoming bills
• Improves cash flow
• Keeps track of payment amounts and due dates
• Helps avoid late fees by scheduling bill payments on or before their due dates
• Can improve your credit score by making all your payments on time

Working with a budget calendar forces you to think ahead and plan your spending, and that helps you stay in control of your money and where it goes. Keeping tabs on your spending is key to both changing bad money habits and reaching your financial goals. It’s one thing to have a goal of saving a specific amount of money, it’s another thing entirely to have a solid plan in place that lets you see how and when you’ll achieve that goal. A budget calendar can help make your goals more attainable.

How exactly do you make a budget calendar? You can use a simple notebook, a wall calendar, a spreadsheet, an online template, or a digital app – it really doesn’t matter the method you use to create your budget calendar, so use the one that works best for you. Your budget calendar should always include these elements:

• Income. Start with logging your regular paychecks and the anticipated amounts, then add any extra income you’re expecting (bonuses, side jobs, etc.) to the calendar.
• Bills. Make note of fixed monthly expenses like mortgage or rent, car payments, cell phone bills, loan payments, monthly subscriptions, and credit card bills, plus infrequent costs like semiannual car insurance payments and annual subscription charges.
• Savings deposits. Scheduling transfers to a savings account can help you save for an emergency fund, build a retirement fund, the kids’ college funds, or help establish sinking funds for financing anticipated events or paying off debts.

Making a budget calendar isn’t a “one and done” kind of endeavor; you’ll need to review your calendar each month and make any updates necessary to keep your budget on track. Every month is slightly different due to things like birthdays, unexpected medical bills, special seasonal events like summer vacation and Christmas holidays, so you might need to make minor adjustments to be sure you stay on track with your spending and saving.

A budget calendar can go a long way toward reducing worry and stress over money by giving you a bird’s eye view of all your scheduled paychecks and payments, as well as assisting you in tracking your expenses and building your savings. You’ll breathe a lot easier once you’re aware of what’s coming financially and have done your best to be prepared for the unexpected. While we can’t control the unexpected, we can control how we manage our finances, and that alone can help make life much more enjoyable.