A critical step in my budgeting plan is using a budget calendar. Since I have added the budget calendar into my monthly planning, I can’t imagine not using it. It helps me to remember all of the bills due each month and aids in the planning process. A budget calendar is a visual way to keep your finances organized by seeing when money is coming in and going out.
What is a Budget Calendar?
A budget calendar is exactly like a regular calendar, but is used for the sole purpose of tracking your personal finances. Budget calendars can be weekly, monthly or yearly. However, the most common type is monthly but you should use the option that works best with your budget plan. Calendars formats can be traditional wall or desk calendars, a printable, or a digital app on your computer or phone. Some standard items to add to the calendar includes:
- Bill due dates (credit debt, insurance, loans, utilities, etc)
- Rent or mortgage due dates
- Paychecks and other sources of income
The calendar allows you to see when income occurs and all of the expenses due throughout the month. Then, a budget can easily be created for each paycheck. You can use the calendar as a visual aid to factor in all of the payments due during that period. Thereby, helping to avoid late fees and penalties from missed payments.
Create a Budget Calendar
Begin by adding recurring expenses to the calendar by date using the expense name. Recurring expenses are bill payments due on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and yearly frequency. These expenses generally include credit cards, loans, insurance, housing, utilities, memberships, phone bill and more. You can also include the amounts due for each expense. Next, add pay dates and other income dates to your calendar.
As bills are paid, place a check mark next to the expense name or draw a line through the name to show that it was paid. So, the next time you look at your calendar, you’ll know the bill was paid because you marked it off.
Personally, I use a monthly budget printable calendar to track due dates for my credit debt, student loans, insurance, mortgage and utilities in addition to paycheck dates. The calendar is a helpful tool to utilize as I’m planning and budgeting each paycheck. Paycheck dates are clearly noted on the calendar and I can visually see all of the bills due during that period. The goal is to budget each paycheck and pay all bills due in that time frame.
Organize with Color Coding
Color coding is used in my calendar and the expenses are highlighted in certain colors based on the paycheck when I intend to pay the bill. This is a visual cue that allows me to quickly identify the group of bills to be paid each paycheck. The color coding used on the budget calendar contains the same color coding scheme used on my Debt Payment Strategy worksheets which keeps it consistent and easy to manage.
I’m usually paid twice a month and split the monthly expenses between both paychecks. All expenses to be paid with the first paycheck will be highlighted in one color. Then, the remaining expenses to be paid with the second check are highlighted in a different color. I also have a Notes section on my calendar and use that area as a key to explain the color coding.
In this example, pay dates in January are on 1/8 and 1/22. The bills due to be paid with the 1/8 paycheck are highlighted in orange. The 1/22 bills are highlighted in blue. Distinct colors are used for each paycheck. The Notes section lists the paycheck dates and are highlighted in corresponding colors associated with bills due in that period.
The 1/8 paycheck will pay bills for Credit Card 4, Student Loan 1, Cell Phone, and Student Loan 2. Those expenses and the paycheck date in the Paycheck key are highlighted in orange. Color coding allows quick identification for the group of bills to be paid with this paycheck because they are highlighted in the same orange color. Since the 1/22 paycheck overlaps with February’s expenses, February’s budget calendar is created while preparing for the 1/22 paycheck.
Staying on Track
I prepare for the next month’s budget calendar at least one pay cycle in advance. Most often, the last paycheck in the current month overlaps with the bills due at the beginning of the next month so I need to be ready. Advanced planning is essential in ensuring that I budget income appropriately.
As you utilize the budget calendar more frequently, you’ll be able to see where you can streamline, reduce costs or shift items in your budget. Consistently using the calendar will allow you to stay on track and motivated. Your calendar will be a visual reminder of progress.
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