In a lot of ways, your calendar can be the ultimate reference sheet for anything and everything that’s going on in your household. It might be the first place you look to see upcoming vacations, appointments, your kids’ schedules, and any of the daily activities of the different members in your household. But it can be more than just a tool to organize your schedule.
As organized as you may be when it comes to your day-to-day activities, this may not always translate to other areas of your life, like your finances. Maybe you have a loose idea of what your finances are looking like, but are you diligently keeping track of your income, your bills, how much you’re spending on groceries, and all of your other expenses? If not, it might be time to get a little (or a lot) more insight into these things, and if that’s your aim, then you’ll want to start taking the budgeting process seriously.
So, how do you do this? Well, do you remember your trusty calendar we were talking about earlier? Its utility doesn’t stop at just keeping track of your activities! It can also be a great tool to help you stay on top of your finances. This is what we’ll be calling your budget calendar. Maintaining one can be a great way to keep your finances organized and can help you stay on top of all the important expenses in your life. We’re going to dive into what it is, how it may be able to help you, and how to put one together.
What is a Budget Calendar?
In simple terms, a budget calendar is essentially a calendar designed to keep track of important financial dates in your life. This can include things like the days you receive your paycheck, when your rent or mortgage payments are due, or the due date of any important bills.
It can also help you reach certain financial goals you’ve set for yourself. For example, let’s say you’re trying to save up $600 over the course of three months. You can schedule out days on your calendar to put aside money into a savings account to eventually hit your goal by the targeted date.
How Can a Budget Calendar Help Me?
While one budgeting technique may be great for one person, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone. While it’s up to you to do your research and figure out what is going to suit your financial situation, here are some of the reasons why a budget calendar may be the right choice for you.
1. Avoid Missed Bill Payments
If you have trouble remembering the due dates of bills, a budget calendar may be able to help. Marking down due dates on your calendar and having a visual representation of them can help to remind you of what’s coming down the pipeline.
If you want to know what bills are upcoming, all you have to do is take a peek at your calendar and see how much money you’ll be paying out, and when. This can help you avoid those pesky late fees that can add up and slowly eat away at your bank account over time. While automating payments can be another good way of making sure you don’t miss any bills, it never hurts to know when you’re going to have to wave goodbye to this money.
2. Gain Insights into Your Cash Flow
Whenever you’re able to keep close tabs on your income and expenses, and designate them into their own distinct categories, you should be able to gain some valuable insights into how much money is coming in and where it’s going.
If you don’t know where to get started, go and take a look at your bank statements. Note when you would typically pay off recurring bills and mark these dates down on your budget calendar.
3. It can Help You Save Money
Whenever you’re able to efficiently get a handle on your expenses, spend your money responsibly, and avoid paying any avoidable fees (like late charges), you may put yourself in a better position to be left with some extra money at the end of the month. So, how can you use this money in a financially responsible way? Put it towards your savings.
Savings can mean a lot of different things to different people, and depending on your particular situation, this money may be best put to use in a number of different areas. If you don’t have an emergency fund to help you handle unexpected expenses, you may want to start there. Or maybe you want to start contributing towards your retirement fund. Whatever it is, staying organized and on top of your finances may help you save, and a budget calendar can help you do just that.
Putting Your Budget Calendar Together
If a budget calendar sounds like it’s for you and you want to start putting one together, there are a couple of different ways to approach it. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you can simply grab a physical calendar and write out all of your upcoming expenses for the next few months (or as far ahead as you can).
If you want to go the digital route, you can leverage the power of personal finance apps that can help you to keep track of your finances. Look at apps, like Mint, Prism, and Spendee, and do your research to see what you think you’d be best suited to.
Keep Track of Your Regular Expenses
Whether you write down your expenses on a physical calendar or opt for a personal finance app, the process of putting together a monthly budget calendar doesn’t need to be complicated. The key component in this entire equation is to effectively keep track of your regular expenses. That means making sure you’ve covered all of your bases in regards to what you’re tracking. Here are some of the key areas you’re going to want to focus on.
When you think of budgeting, you might immediately start to think about the money that’s leaving your bank account. But it’s just as important to keep track of all the money you have coming in, and more specifically, when it’s coming in.
If you have a steady income coming in from a single source, then this will be relatively simple. But this isn’t always the case. Maybe you’re a freelancer whose workload varies each month, or maybe you work on commission and have a fluctuating paycheck. You might even have a steady paycheck coming in, but also have a passive stream of income to keep track of. If any of this sounds like you, you’re going to want to take special care to keep a close eye on your income and make sure you’re tracking it effectively.
Like we’ve already mentioned, one of the main functions of a budget calendar is to help you stay on top of your bills. Start by marking down all of your recurring bills on your calendar. If there are any changes to these, or if a one-off bill pops up, make note of these too.
Having a clear look at when you’re due to pay your bills can help make sure you’re prepared to pay them, and can also help you to avoid unnecessary expenses like late fees. It might also help you to think twice before you make any impulse buys leading up to the due date of an important bill.
One of the main hopes of any budgeting system is that if you can manage to get your finances organized, you may have an opportunity to save a little more money than you did before. If you find that your new monthly budget calendar is leaving you with some extra cash at the end of each month and you want to start putting this money away on a regular basis, you’ll need to keep track of this.
Saving money requires discipline, so that means you’ll need to treat your contributions the same way you’d treat an important bill. Mark down your regular contributions on your calendar and try to avoid any unnecessary spending that could jeopardize your ability to save money.
Lastly, you’re going to want to make sure you’re keeping track of any debt you may be paying off. The consequences of missing these payments can be severe. You could damage your credit history, rack up late fees, and sink deeper into a cycle of debt that can get harder to get out of the longer it drags out. So, it’s important that you’re aware of all the debt you need to pay off and make sure to make your payments. If you need some more information on how to pay off debt, take a look at these useful tips.
Use a Budget Calendar to Keep Your Finances on Track
When you don’t have a clear sense of your financial standing, it’s important that you do everything in your power to rectify this. A budget calendar can be a useful tool to help. If you go about it the right way, it can help you keep track of your income, bills, and all of your important expenses. Budgeting is a key part of being financially responsible, so make sure you do your best to stick with it!
Posted in: Budgeting