When you’re running a busy household, your calendar can be your best friend. It can help you keep track of your appointments, vacations, your kids’ schedules, and the day-to-day activities of everyone in the house. But when it comes to money, not everyone is as diligent at keeping track of their spending on things like bills, groceries, online loan payments, and savings. While you might have a loose budget that you occasionally scribble down your expenses in, if you want to have an eye on your financial health, you’re going to have to get serious about budgeting. A budget calendar might be just what you need to gain visibility into your finances and help you stay on top of your money. We’re going to break down what a budget calendar is, how to make one, and how it can help you.
What is a budget calendar and how can it help me?
A budget calendar functions just as a regular calendar does, but with your finances in mind. Its purpose is to help you keep track of the important financial dates in your life, like when your paycheck comes in and when specific bills are due. There are a few different ways this tool can help you:
- Stop missing bills. If you've gone through the process of marking down the due dates of your bills on your budget calendar, you may be less likely to miss or forget them. This should help you avoid any late fees, which can really add up if you’re consistently missing your due dates throughout the year.
- More visibility into your cash flow. If you’re able to track all of your monthly expenses and sort them into specific categories, like fixed and variable expenses, you should have a much better idea of what money is coming in and where you’re spending it. Go back and look at your bank statements. Make a note of when you normally pay off important bills and expenses and make sure you set reminders to stay on top of them.
- Increase your savings. If you can effectively keep track of your expenses, keep your spending in line, and avoid late fees, you'll have a better chance of having some money left over at the end of the month to start contributing towards your savings. This could be for your emergency fund, a college fund for your child, or even your own retirement. If you feel like you have a good handle on your finances, you may want to set up automatic deposits with your bank so that you’re forced to contribute to your savings on a consistent basis.
How to put together a budget calendar
If you want to make a simple monthly budget calendar, there are a few different ways you can go about it. The most bare-bones way would be to get a good old-fashioned calendar and write out your major upcoming expenses for the month.
If you want to keep track of your finances digitally, there are a number of free personal finance apps that can effectively act as your budget planner and help you to keep track of your finances. Some of these include:
- Mint. This free budget planner organizes your finances so you can see everything in one place. You’ll be able to see your checking account information, your credit card balance, your student loan payment schedule, and your monthly bills. This budget calendar can help you understand how you’re spending your money, where you’re savings are coming from, and what you’re spending too much money on.
- Prism. Prism is geared towards helping you stay on top of your bills. It does this by allowing you to see your account balances and bills on a single platform. You can pay your bills directly on the app or even schedule a payment for a later date. All you need to do is connect your billers on the app, and Prism will then sync your bills and your account balances.
- Spendee. Keeping track of your bills can seem complicated enough without having to throw in the added wrinkle of sharing these monthly expenses with your roommates. But if you need to split your expenses with the other members of your household, Spendee can help by creating a shared wallet. For example, if you want to pay the rent through an account you share with your roommates instead of a paying from the account of a single person, Spendee will enable you to link your payments through the app. You’ll be able to manually add your household expenses and stay on top of your bills with the bill tracking feature.
What monthly expenses should you keep track of?
Whether you want keep track of your expenses through a personal finance app or a regular calendar, there are certain expenses that you’re going to want to include on your budget calendar.
Budgeting isn’t just about keeping track of how you spend your money, it’s also about staying on top of how much money is coming in, and when you’re due to receive your paychecks each month. If you’ve got a regular paycheck with a fixed amount coming in at the same time each month, this should be simple. But this isn’t the case for everyone. In 2018, over a third of U.S. workers were taking part in the gig economy, meaning they may be in between full-time jobs, unable to find work after being fired, or looking for a less conventional work schedule. If you fall into this category, you may need some extra help putting together a budget when your income is irregular.
We’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s worth repeating; make sure to mark down any bills on your budget calendar. If you’re keeping track of your finances and you can see that you have a few big bills coming up, this might help you curb any impulse spending leading up to these due dates. Knowing exactly when your bills are due can go a long way in helping you avoid typical financial mistakes, like forgetting to pay your bills or overspending throughout the month.
If you’ve set up automatic deposits into your savings account, or you have some money left over at the end of the month, this would be a good opportunity to make a contribution to your emergency fund, college savings, or your retirement. If you do end up putting money towards your savings, you should be keeping track of these contributions the same way you’d mark down any of your other monthly expenses. If you’re not making these contributions regularly, try marking down future dates on your budget calendar that you’ll make a concerted effort to save money on.
You may want to start saving money regularly but don’t feel like you have enough room in the budget to do it. If this is the case, try using an app like Acorns to start making small investments with your spare change.
A budget calendar can be the key to keeping track of your finances
If you feel like you don’t have a clear view of your finances, it’s time to start keeping track of your spending. A budget calendar is a great way to gain a clear view of your monthly expenses, your upcoming bills, and the money you have coming in.
If you want to start living well on a tight budget, you’re going to have to pick up some money saving tips along the way, and this starts with a budget. Once you have a firm grip on your short-term goals and you have a clear path to accomplishing them, you can start to look towards your long-term financial goals. A budget calendar is the first step to achieving these goals.
Do you have any tips for putting together a budget calendar? Share below!
Posted in: Financial Tips