One of the first and easiest steps you can take with your finances is to create a personal budget calendar.
It’s an effective way to understand what your income and expenses look like, without having to try and remember off the top of your head.
Typically, you think you’ll remember everything and can manage your money without writing things down.
I certainly thought the same thing, but I quickly realized how I was mishandling everything when I was more tactical.
So what are the benefits of creating a budget calendar? How can you get started with one and maintain it for the foreseeable future? Jump in below to learn more!
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What Is a Budget Calendar?
A budget calendar is similar to your everyday calendar, except it tracks the dates of your income and expenses. For example, you’ll note which days your wage comes in, the day each bill leaves your account and when subscriptions are paid, etc.
Every good budget calendar will include:
- Your income – How much you are earning from each paycheck or what you make if you work for yourself.
- Current expenses – Typically, your bills will fall on similar days each month. Planning these out on a calendar gives you the big picture.
- Current savings – How you plan on scheduling money to save in your emergency fund or other investments.
You can certainly go a bit deeper, but at a high-level, those three areas will get you much farther with your finances than people who do not budget at all.
But this budget calendar idea exists to enable you to take a more careful approach towards money, to build a simple family budget, and plan a budget that fits your lifestyle.
The Benefits of A Budget Calendar
Can you believe that just 30% of U.S. households have a long-term financial plan? Budgeting allows us to keep track of our income, save money better, and ensure we are spending it where we have intended to.
Plus, if you’re looking to escape paycheck to paycheck living then having a budget is key.
Luckily, there’s not just one way to budget. Finding a budgeting style that works for you is important, as it will help you stick to your money intentions and reach your goals.
Opting for a budget calendar should help you:
- Track spending and create a spending plan
- Highlight where cuts can be made
- Review your income
- Plan for the future
- Help you tackle any debt faster
- Better understand your living expenses
Calendars are great as they help you to visually notice when things are due to avoid late payments and can be much simpler than budgeting software. Since more than a quarter of millennials had their checking accounts overdrawn, this could be one way to combat the panic of late payments.
Steps To Create Your Own Budget Calendar
Creating your own budget calendar is actually quite simple and you can accomplish a simple one in just a few steps. If aren’t sure how to start at all, I’d recommended checking out our budgeting 101 article.
Budget Calendar Steps
- Find, make, buy or create a calendar. This may be a physical paper copy, an app on your phone or an online calendar on a program like excel. Just make sure it’s laid out in a monthly format with the dates and plenty of space.
- Mark the days you’ll receive income (through your wages, dividends, interest payments or something else) and the amount you expect to receive. Potentially color code this to have your income stand out from expenses.
- Mark your fixed expenses on the calendar, along with their amounts. This will include things like your energy bills, phone bills, rent or mortgage payments etc. It would be useful to do this in a different color to the income above.
- Finally, mark the dates where you expect to put money into savings or into paying off debts, along with the amounts. Again, choose a separate color to ensure this stands out.
- For variable expenses, ones that might fluctuate or not have a fixed amount, always overestimate the amount on your calendar. It’s better to have extra than not enough.
- Don’t be afraid to mark your calendar up as needed. Color coding and notes can be super powerful visually for you as you work on your budget calendar.
Budget Calendar Templates
If you don’t want to create your own or want more organization, there are budget calendar templates that exist. Below are a few good template variation that you can download and utilize to make life easier.
- MyMoneyCoach has a brilliant downloadable template that is absolutely free! The template is made in excel, so it proves easy to use for most people. All you have to do is input the exact figures for your situation, and watch the budget calendar do its magic. Download the budget calendar here.
- 101Planners has published a budget workbook, with one of its pages dedicated to a monthly calendar. If you’re looking for a physical copy, this printable calendar could be the one for you. Plus, it’s color coded so you can draw a clear line between income and expenses. Download it here.
- If you’re looking for something simple, OnPlanners have created a number of calendar budget templates, including a monthly tracker and a daily expenses tracker. Both of these are printables and easy to navigate, so you’ve really got no excuses!
How to Maintain Your Budget Calendar
It can be hard to allocate time for budgeting consistently, especially if you aren’t someone who gets excited about the numbers. But it doesn’t have to be such a chore!
Maintaining your budget calendar can actually be fairly easy.
Start by dedicating one morning or afternoon each month to your budget. Perhaps the day after you get paid, or maybe you want to make it the 1st or last day of the month.
Having a set date can help you stick to maintaining your budget calendar. Write out your budget at least one month in advance, but if you can plan for more, go for it.
To successfully use a budget calendar, work with the payments you’ve written down. Start scheduling your payments around the dates you have set to ensure things are running smoothly and you can feel proud about sticking with the budget.
Taking the time to do this will be valuable in the long run, as you’ll be creating good money habits, become more financially stable, and getting on track with your financial goals.
Do I Need A Budget Calendar?
Now that you know what it is, the benefits, and how to start and maintain one — do you need one? Honestly, it’s personally up to you and what accountability you make need with your finances. But this budgeting system can be exactly what you need to hit your long term goals.
For me, I used spreadsheets and apps like Personal Capital to help monitor how things are going and my net worth. And you might find the budget calendar isn’t enough and may want to try the cash envelope system, for example.
However, a budget calendar can be a great start to organizing your money, manage your sources of income, keep recurring expenses in-check, and help prioritize how you save and spend money.
Working on a budget might not be glamorous, but give it a shot and see how it works for you!