Would you use a budget calendar if it made tracking your money easier?
Simple answer, isn’t it?
Because when a monthly bill calendar works, it so works. It’ll make you wonder how you ever budgeted without it.
So let’s talk about it.
What is a budget calendar?
It’s a financial calendar that allows you to remember all your important due dates.
Because here’s a situation that might sound familiar:
You sit down to create your budget. You write down all the expenses you can think of. You’ve accounted for every single thing…or so you thought.
Two weeks later, you realize you’ve forgotten your car tag renewal fee. Aggravated, you kick yourself for not remembering.
Now you have to go back and pull that money from one category and add it to another.
Can you relate?
It happens to the best of us. But, it’s a prime example of how using a monthly bill organizer can save you time and money.
From a quick glance, you’ll know exactly what’s due and when. No more worrying about financial surprises.
Why it works
It’s not just about avoiding expense traps that kill your budget.
Let me put it like this:
If your budget is the backbone of your finances, then your monthly bill calendar is your road map. It tells you the what and the when.
Here are a few ways it’ll help you level up financially:
- You’ll know if you need to adjust your due dates. Because you might realize money is tight at the end of the month because all your bills are due then.
- You’ll get organized financially. You’ll be less likely to forget about important due dates and more likely to stick to your budget.
- It’ll give you peace of mind. No more worrying about late fees or awful surprises.
- You’ll boost your savings. Because it’s no shock that when you track your money, you usually end up with more of it. Funny how that works, right?
- It sets a strong precedent for managing your money. You work hard for your money, so now it’s time to track it.
What you’ll need for your budget calendar:
There are 4 things I recommend:
- Our free calendar template (below)
- A good quality paper like this one from Amazon. It’s thick and the colors print beautifully on it. And you won’t have to worry about colors bleeding through if you use a highlighter.
- A list of your expenses
How to Set Up Your Budget Calendar
Now you’ll want to make a list of your expenses and due dates. I recommend writing down expenses for each month in advance.
Here’s what I mean:
You might have to scan your bank statements or credit card statements to ensure you’re not missing anything.
Here’s a list of common recurring expenses:
- Home/Renters Insurance
- Utility bills (cable, cell, electricity, water, etc.)
- Car payment
- Credit card payments
- Student loans
- Personal loans
- Car insurance (if paid monthly)
- Bank fees
Here’s a list of irregular expenses:
- Property taxes (if paying quarterly or yearly)
- House insurance (if paying yearly)
- Vehicle insurance (if paying quarterly or yearly)
- Back-to-school shopping
- Medical bills
- Vet bills
- Holiday gifts
- Birthday gifts
- Mother’s Day & Father’s Day gifts
- Car maintenance & oil changes
- Car registration and renewal
- HVAC inspections
- Pest control
Putting it all together
Now that you’ve written down your expenses and due dates, you can transfer them over to your calendar.
In the top left, you’ll put the date. In the top right, you’ll see a blue box that allows you to check off expenses once you’ve paid them. I recommend highlighting the expenses that aren’t auto-pay so you don’t forget about them.
It might be helpful to use your calendar to track your paychecks also. Like this:
I’ll sometimes even include the dollar amount next to the item I’m tracking. For example, I’ll write:
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I make a budget?
- What should my budgeting percentages be?
- Should I include the things I use auto-pay for?
- Should I include things like savings?
- What if I have money leftover?
- How do I budget during those extra paycheck months?
- What do I need to get started?
Great question, because a budget and a budget calendar go hand in hand.
So today, we’re going to teach you how to make a zero-based budget. Studies show that people who use this budgeting method pay off 19% more debt and save 18% more money.
The idea is simple:
You give every dollar a purpose.
Have $175 leftover after covering your expenses? Sweet! But you aren’t finished budgeting yet.
That $175 should be assigned to a category – fun money, savings, debt – wherever. This ensures you don’t waste it.
So here’s a zero-based budget in action:
See how every dollar has a category?
That’s your goal.
I recommend using Dave Ramsey’s budgeting percentages.
If you don’t already know, Dave Ramsey is one of the most popular financial experts on the planet.
There’s no doubt about it. The guy knows his stuff.
And regardless of what some naysayers might say about Dave, he’s probably helped more people pay off debt than anyone else on the planet.
So let’s talk about Dave Ramsey’s budget percentages:
Now you might be wondering:
What if my percentages don’t match those?
It happens. But, it’s important to try to get as close to those percentages as possible. Committing too much to one category is risky.
Here’s the thing:
People get pay cuts. Economies tank. Companies go out of business.
You never know what could happen. So try not to go over more than 5% in one category. If you overspend in one area, then you’ll have to spend less in another.
And if you realize you’re overextending yourself in one area, then do what you can to cut costs.
For example, let’s say you’re spending 35% on housing. What can you do?
- Get a roommate
- Rent out a bedroom
- Refinance your mortgage and lock in a better interest rate
- Bring in extra income
Yes. The idea behind a budget calendar is to get a full picture of your finances from a glance. So even if you have several items that you use auto-pay for, it’s still smart to include them.
Do you think you’ll be motivated by seeing your savings on your calendar? Then go for it!
I’ve had several readers tell me that keeping up with their savings has motivated them to save even more. Others prefer to only include their savings in their budget.
I’ve done both. Most of the time, I’ll add my savings at the top of my calendar like this:
What if an expense ends up costing less than you thought it would? What do you do with that extra money?
If you have debt, you should put most, if not all, of that extra money towards paying it off.
So for example, if I spent $100 less on groceries this month then I’d put $90 towards debt (90%). And I’d give myself $10 for savings or fun money. (10%)
It’s like a little pat on the back for spending less.
If you’re already debt free, then you can use that money towards savings or give yourself extra fun money.
Some months have 5 weeks instead of 4. If you’re paid biweekly, then this means you’ll get 3 paychecks instead of 2.
So here are the months that have 5 weeks for 2020 and 2021:
- 2020: January, May, July, October
- 2021: January, April, July, October, December
But what do you do with that extra money?
If you have debt, then you should put that money towards paying it off. The goal is to get that debt burden off your back so you can say goodbye to the never ending payments.
If you’re debt free, then you can put that money towards savings or fun money – or split it between both.
There are 4 things I recommend:
- Our free monthly bill payment log (below)
- A premium quality paper like this one from Amazon. It’s thick and the colors show up gorgeously on it. And you won’t have to worry about your highlighter or pen bleeding through.
- A list of your expenses