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Putting together a monthly budget calendar is a great way to get organized for the upcoming month. In a perfect world, your budget would be exactly the same every month, but that’s not usually case. You have to prepare for special events, holidays, required maintenance that doesn’t happen regularly, clothing, or about a million other things that just happen to catch us off guard each month. Creating a snapshot of your month at the beginning of each month allows you to allocate your income appropriately.
You might prefer to do this on your phone, a white board on the wall, or digitally, but I am a pen and paper lover personally. I can create a monthly budget calendar quickly and color code it based on different categories for easy referencing. I stick this front of my budget planner to outline the rest of my monthly budget sheets and financial plan for the month.
What is a Monthly Budget Calendar?
A monthly budget calendar is just like any other calendar you may have for family activities or meal planning, but it specifically for all things related to your personal finances. It’s a place for you to record things like:
- Pay Dates
- Upcoming Bill Due Dates
- Savings Transfers
- Upcoming Appointments that Will Cost Money (ie. haircuts, vet visits, car maintenance, etc.)
- Holidays or Special Events (ie. additional food costs or gifts)
- Setting Appointments to Review Your Budget
It helps you become extremely intentional in the way that you handle your finances. You know exactly where your money is going and how to set up your plan for the entire month. I even write down the dates that we sit down as a couple and review our finances together. Setting it up as a planned meeting helps us to follow-through and stay accountable.
A monthly budget calendar can also help you to better organize your bill payments. Are you finding that all of your bills come out of one paycheck each month leaving you with nothing leftover? Call your utility companies and credit card companies and ask for a new due date that works better for your monthly budget. These companies are generally willing to adjust your payment schedule without issue.
How to Set Up a Monthly Budget Calendar
Setting up a monthly budget calendar should only take about 5-10 minutes. I create a more specific budget for each paycheck rather than for an entire month, but having everything in front of me for the entire month helps me create my plan for each paycheck that month. I know if I need to shuffle payments around or if I need to roll over money from one paycheck into the next to cover all of our expenses.
So, let me show you how I set up my monthly budget calendar so you can do the same!
Step 1- The very first thing I do is add the days that we will be getting paid and how much that paycheck will be. If you aren’t paid the exact same amount each paycheck, write down the minimum amount that you will get paid. You can go back and change the amount you were paid if it’s higher when you actually receive your paycheck.
Step 2- Next you’re going to write down all of your fixed expenses for the month. These are the bills where the amount is the same every single month. Some examples of this would be:
- Housing Costs
- Phone Bill
- Car Payments
- Minimum Payments on Credit Cards or School Loans
- Insurance (health, auto, home, renters, etc)
Step 3- Now you’ll record all of your expenses that have a fixed due date but the bill amount is different each month. This would include things like:
- Electric Bill
- Natural Gas Bill
- Water Bill
I write down the date that the bill is due and an estimated bill amount (in pencil). I always overestimate what I believe this bill will cost. For example, during the summer months our electric bill can get out of hand since we are renting a place with zero insulation and old windows. I estimate $550, because this is the highest bill we have ever received, and I feel confident it won’t go over this amount. If it’s lower than this, it just becomes additional money I can allocate elsewhere!
Step 4- This is where I write down any infrequent, but regular payments like semi-annual or annual fees. These aren’t surprises, but they do impact our budget for that given month. This month, for example, our Costco membership is up for renewal, so I know I’m going to have to pay an additional $60 when I go grocery shopping this month.
Step 5- Finally, you’ll write down any upcoming events that will cost money or have an impact on your budget. Are you planning a dinner party with friends this month? Is there an upcoming birthday that you want to save towards? Maybe your child just received a birthday invitation so you know you need to buy a gift. I also use this time to record any haircut appointments, vet appointments, or other appointments that need to be planned for.
How to Color Code Your Calendar for Easy Reference
I am an extremely visual person and need to see things laid out in front of me for frame of reference. One of my favorite ways to create a visual plan is with color coding. Color coding not only makes the layout of your month easier to reference, it also makes the whole budgeting thing at least a little bit more fun!
I bought a pack of my favorite colored pens, and I use them for just about everything I do in my budget. I don’t go overboard on my monthly calendar or it would be a confusing rainbow of colors, but I do use about five colors to represent different things through the month.
Color 1: I choose one color to represent all of our bills that fall within one paycheck of the month.
Color 2: I choose a second color to represent all of our bills that fall within the second paycheck of the month.
For those of you who have a double income and receive four paychecks within a given month, I recommend assigning a date range to your bills. For example:
- Person 1 gets paid on the 5th and 25th
- Person 2 gets paid on the 7th and 28th
- Choose date ranges to create a zero-based budgets for (ex. split the month in half or just choose one person’s pay dates as the starting and ending dates). Whatever works best for you!
Color 3: I choose a third color to write down all of the items from Step 4 above that are irregular but I am expecting them.
Color 4: This is where I put down any of my variable expenses such as when I plan to go grocery shopping or nights that we’ll eat out at a restaurant.
How to Edit Your Monthly Calendar
I don’t generally have to make many edits to my calendar throughout the month, I will go back and cross things off or add things if they change. For those bills from Step 3 that are a variable amount (ie. electric, natural gas, etc.), I will go back once I have received the actual bill and erase my penciled in amount and replace it with the actual amount.
If you want to be extremely proactive, you can even create monthly calendars for several months at one time. As new things pop up, you can go in and edit your calendars far enough in advance to plan appropriately.
The whole goal of the monthly budget calendar is to limit the “surprises” that happen within your financial plan and create an outline of your goals and objectives for the month in regards to where your money goes and when.
Other Posts You Might Like:
- Using a Cashless Envelope System to Manage Your Spending
- The Budget Binder that Transformed Our Finances
- The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Budget that’s Simple and Livable
- How to Set a Travel Budget You Can Stick To (with Free Printable!)
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