As working moms, one of the many things we have to keep up with is the family schedule, and balancing that with events and deadlines at work. From doctors’ appointments to haircuts, soccer practice and scouts, it’s all about making sure the family is where they need to be, and at the right time.
A calendar can be a helpful friend.
If you’re anything like me, there are some days when you’re worried you might have missed something, that an event or appointment didn’t make it onto the calendar. From a money perspective, this one scares me more than most - are all the payments scheduled out?
If you’re one of the nearly 80% of American workers that lives paycheck to paycheck*, then the potential for forgetting one of your regularly scheduled bills could open the door for some overspending in another area… which could lead to a bank account being in the red. That’s nowhere any of us wants to be.
Even if you’ve been doing your monthly budget on time every month, and you’re tracking your bills, a budget calendar can help you avoid stress and plan out your income and expenses.
What is a budget calendar?
Put simply, a budget calendar is a calendar in which you record your paychecks and your expenses. It can be paper or electronic. It’s up to you how granular you get on those expenses. A budget calendar helps you visualize and track the money that comes in and goes out of your household each month.
How do you create a budget calendar?
Grab a monthly calendar, and make a notation of the following items:
- Income. Make a note of your paychecks on the dates they come in.
- Fixed Expenses. From the rent or mortgage payment to the car payment, the gym and and everything in-between, write these bills down on the dates they're due. Don't forget credit card payments.
- Sinking Funds. If you're saving something each month to be able to pay insurance once every six months, saving for a vacation, etc., list it on the date that it would come out of your paycheck and go into savings.
- Variable & Irregular Expenses. Do you need to put down a summer camp deposit? Pay the twice yearly PO box fee? Do you know you're hitting the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July and how much you're going to want to have on hand that day? List it. I'm not saying you have to list every trip to the grocery store - unless you really want to.
Play around with it a little and you'll find your happy medium with what you want to include and what you prefer to leave out, but use the above items as a starting point.
Why is a budget calendar helpful?
If you’re assigning your monthly bills to certain paychecks, a budget calendar is immensely helpful in visualizing how this lays out. It will remind you of pending payments, so that if you suddenly see that your favorite band is coming to town, or if you spot the perfect boots you've been dreaming of for months, you know exactly how much of that money in your account is earmarked for fixed expenses.
Probably the biggest benefit to putting your payments on an actual calendar, whether it's paper or digital, is the peace of mind it brings. No more worrying that you've missed something. It's all laid out in front of you, organized and planned. It's a great feeling!
I can't believe I waited so long to try this calendar method of tracking our budget! Give it a try - I bet you'll like it, too!
*Source: CareerBuilder survey, 2017