I don’t want to say “budget” is a dirty word, but I definitely know people that think so.
A Financial Calendar is a bit different and it’s one of the things I did that helped me get on track to pay off all my credit card debt back in 2014-2015.
A Financial Calendar can help you start working towards getting a month ahead on your finances when you’re struggling in the vicious paycheck to paycheck cycle.
What is a Financial Calendar?
A Financial Calendar has every single bill due date throughout the entire year. Not just monthly bills, but also quarterly, semi-annual, and annual bills. Every. Single. Bill. Due. Date.
How to A Financial Calendar Helps You Break Out of the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle
If you’re living the paycheck to paycheck cycle you likely fall into one of two camps. The first knows down to the cent how much is in their bank account – because the thought of over drafting is petrifying. The other has a rough estimate of their bank balance that is probably wrong because they can’t bring themselves to look.
Both camps suck because either way you’re feeling extremely broke. The idea of getting a month ahead on your finances feels incredibly daunting if not downright impossible. Enter your Personal Financial Calendar….
Your Financial Calendar can help you prepare for how much money you need to make sure you have enough by certain days. It helps prevent any surprises from popping up.
Usually, the downfall of most people struggling, at least this was true for me, was a forgotten bill, particularly the ones that were rare like annual bills or varied like medical bills. A really good financial calendar accounts for both.
How to Create a Great Financial Calendar
To create a really good financial calendar you’re going to need to review both your current and past finances.
Step 1: Gather all your statements from the last 12 months
Make sure you do this for all your accounts including:
- Checking accounts
- Savings accounts
- Credit cards
- Any other account you spend money from
Once you have them all gathered you’re ready for step 2.
Step 2: Review your statements from last month to pull out your monthly bill due dates
Start with last month. Look at each statement for last month to start with your regular monthly bills. These could include:
- Credit Card Bill Payments
- Utilities (electric, water, etc.)
- Internet/Cable/Streaming service bill
- Student loan bill payments
- Anything else that comes in a monthly bill
This a financial calendar not a budget – so it only includes things with due dates. You can use your Financial Calendar to help you budget better, but that is a different article.
For example, grocery shopping is something you likely do every week, but it doesn’t have a financial due date so it wouldn’t go on your financial calendar.
Step 3: Add your monthly due dates to your Financial Calendar
I like to use a literal calendar for my financial calendar but you could just as easily use a spreadsheet or just a list you reference. For monthly bills, I just set them up as recurring monthly appointments. You can do this by going into your appointment settings:
Step 4: Review all of your statements for irregular bills
Go through every single statement and make note of bills that are not monthly. These could be bills that come up once a year, once every six months, once a quarter, or maybe even once every other month.
Be thorough, missing a bill at this step can mean a surprise later.
Step 5: Add all the bills from step 4 to your Financial Calendar
Go through your calendar month by month and add those bills with the proper recurring settings. To make sure they show up for you the next time too.
If it’s an odd amount of time, simply select “custom” in your appointment settings:
Step 6: Add new bills to your calendar as they come up
Maybe you switch services so you need to adjust the monthly due date.
Or you sign up for a new annual service that needs to be added to your calendar.
Or maybe you switched from monthly to annual billing, whatever the case, make sure you are keeping your financial calendar up to date.
Bottom Line – A Financial Calendar Helps You Stay On Top of Your Finances
If you’ve been struggling with trying to budget only to have it blow up on you every month, give a Financial Calendar a try. It’s not a replacement for a budget but can be a good first step to better money management.
A strong Financial Calendar can also make budgeting easier, by making sure you’re accounting for all the various bills coming up in the coming months.
Now, over to you, what is your biggest struggle when it comes to keeping track of your bills? Let me know in the comments!