Is your spending out of control? Do you struggle with making payments on time? Lose track of where your money is going?
It’s time to take control of your finances using a budget calendar!
What is a Budget Calendar?
A budget calendar is a calendar with all your income and expenses marked on it. The sole purpose of a budget calendar is to track your finances.
Why Use a Budget Calendar (the pros)?
- Keep You Organized
- Visual Representation of Your Money
- Keep Track of Payment Due Dates
- Easy to Plan for the Future
What Should be on a Budget Calendar?
All sources of expected income should be put onto your budget calendar.
- Fixed Expenses
Fixed expenses cost the same amount each time they’re due. They’re often paid regularly (monthly, weekly, annually). Examples of fixed expenses include items like rent, car payments, and insurance.
- Variable (non-discretionary) Expenses
Variable (non-discretionary) expenses are things you NEED but the amounts change. Variable expenses can occur regularly or irregularly. Examples of variable (non-discretionary) expenses include items like gas, electricity, and groceries.
*Note: Discretionary expenses are discussed further down!
- Debt Payments
If you have debts, all payments (minimum required and any additional you plan to make) should be listed on the calendar.
- Saving Contributions
All savings contributions (emergency funds, vacation, retirement, etc) should be marked on your budget calendar.
Optional Things to Add to a Budget Calendar:
- Discretionary Expenses
Discretionary expenses are things you buy that you don’t need. The amounts vary and if you needed to save money, they’d likely be the first things to cut from your life. Examples of discretionary expenses include items like Starbucks (or other coffee shops), restaurants, and manicures).
Some people like to include their cash balances on their calendar. This is a personal decision.
If you include your balance, you’ll always be able to see (at a glance) how much money you have remaining in your primary account.
- Payment Method
You might want to make a note of how each expense is paid. Automatic withdrawal from your account? Online?
How to Setup a Budget Calendar
It’s really not that hard to do – only 5 simple steps!
Step 1. Choose a Calendar
Do you want to use a paper calendar, a digital calendar, or both?
Digital calendars are easy to adjust and may be able to be opened on any device.
Paper calendars are more traditional.
I prefer a paper calendar because it feels more personal and creative. However, they’re also more work. Choose the calendar system that will work best for you.
*The example used for this post is a digital calendar made using Canva.
Step 2: Make an Income/Expenses List
The easiest thing to do is to track your expenses for a couple of months and make a list of all your expenses and incomes.
The example above shows “Personal” discretionary expenses. You could break that down into individual items (Starbucks, take out, entertainment) or keep it as one lump sum.
Step 3: Mark Your Calendar
You’ll need to decide how long you want your budget calendar to be for. 3 months? 6 months? A year?
You’ll also need to decide what you’ll be tracking. Are you going to include discretionary expenses? balances? payment methods?
The example above includes discretionary expenses but does not include balances or payment methods.
Digital calendars can be easily done for long periods of time because changes are easy.
Paper calendars are more difficult to adjust. If you want to do a full year, use pencil for future amounts that aren’t fixed.
Step 4: Go forth & live
Check your calendar regularly to make sure you’re paying expenses on time. But otherwise, this method of budgeting doesn’t require any tracking as you go!
Step 5: Review & Adjust
Every month you should review the prior month. This is the time to take stock of anything that has changed (price increases, lifestyle changes, etc) that will affect future months.
Make any adjustments you expect to have going forward.
Personalizing Your Budget Calendar
Personalizing a budget calendar is the fun part!
Color code your expense categories, add stickers and doodles, add in financial goal tracking, do a financial challenge, the sky is the limit!
Here are five examples of how real people use budget calendars!
A Calendar for Your Money
A budget calendar is just a calendar you use to track your money.
Follow this guide to get started with yours today! If you get paid biweekly, you might also be interested in Budgeting by Paycheck.
Until next time,