Living paycheck to paycheck can make planning and saving for long-term financial goals difficult.
Creating a budget can help. Whether it’s in your head, a phone app, a spreadsheet on paper or a computer, budgeting can help you move from running in place financially to saving and getting ahead.
Another option is a budget calendar.
What is a Budget Calendar?
You may already use a calendar on the side of a refrigerator or one on your phone to keep track of upcoming doctor’s visits, birthdays and family events.
A budget calendar does the same thing, but with bills and due dates, paydays, when to shop for a niece’s birthday gift, and other parts of daily finances. All at a glance.
It allows you to easily see that the electric bill is due in five days, a payment on a medical payment plan is due in two weeks, and that your spouse is due to get paid next Friday. Expected purchases and bills can be foreseen months ahead, helping you to budget for them, manage your cash flow, and reach your financial goals.
Automatic deposits to retirement accounts, an emergency fund and saving for a down payment on a house can be viewed in seconds.
Why Have a Budget Calendar?
If you’re paying late fees on bills because you forget to pay them, a budget calendar can save you money by helping you keep track of your monthly bills and set reminders. Tracking your fixed expenses can help you know where your money is going.
In the long term, avoiding late fees will increase your credit score and ultimately make getting good credit terms easier.
Reminders can also be set up on a budget calendar to put a little money aside each month for retirement, your kids’ college education, and other savings goals.
Make Your Own
Before we get to the sometimes expensive apps and websites that can create budget calendars for you and are easy to run, it’s worth noting that a budget calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.
A grade-school student could make one.
Make a paper calendar and fill in the dates of these items:
- Bill due dates and amounts
- Grocery shopping days
- Upcoming events you need to shop for, such as birthdays
- Automated transfers to retirement and other savings accounts
If a physical calendar doesn’t work for you, try a digital calendar like Google Calendar or the calendar on your phone. Add events with a Budgeting tag on them and you’re on your way.
These are easy ways to try out a budget calendar. They aren’t as easy and automated as budget calendars that charge money for their services, but they can still do the job.
Free apps and online templates can help you set up a budget and monitor your spending.
What To Put In A Budget Calendar
The dates are important, and so are the types of incoming and outgoing expenses. Here are the three main ones:
Bills: List the date your bills are due on the calendar. Set reminders a few days ahead to pay them so you avoid late fees. Before making a purchase, check your calendar to see if any bills are due soon so you can see if you can afford that impulse purchase you’re about to make.
Revenue: Whenever your paycheck arrives is always a big day. Mark paydays on your calendar.
Savings: Automatic transfers from your checking account to savings accounts should be listed on a budget calendar. If you aren’t saving money regularly, seeing the impact of it could spur you to start.
Budget Calendars Worth Paying For
If you don’t mind spending some money, some budget calendars can make the process easier. You can usually try them out for free for 30 days. Here are some to consider:
For $3.99 per month after a 30-day free trial, Calendar Budget is easy to glance at and get a quick idea of where your money is going.
Fixed bills can be tracked, as can daily spending such dining out or a visit to a dog groomer. When is your dental bill due? Calendar Budget will email you a reminder.
For a flat rate of $29.99, Money Calendar describes itself as the best personal finance software for home accounting.
It warns you when you approach the defined limit in any expense category, and then helps you fix that with its budgeting tools. It can put together a budget report at any time with estimated and actual data.
For a flat rate of $2.99, Budget Calendar is an inexpensive way to try a budget calendar with a little bit of help.
Your cash flow for the next 20 years can be forecast, and you can budget for everything from a wedding to a vacation, or necessities such as household appliances.
The flat rate of $49.99 is a little intimidating, but Moneydance is a budget calendar with many features. Investments can be tracked, and it can convert expenses if you spend money in different currencies.
Whether you make your own on paper, use a free online app, or buy one, a budget calendar can get you on the road to better finances. Eventually, living from month to month can become a thing of the past as you figure out how to budget better.