How to Create a Personal Finance Calendar
January 11, 2023
Most of us maintain a personal calendar with important dates and reminders. We might add key events, birthdays and anniversaries, and details of upcoming appointments.
What most of us don’t add to our calendars is information about our personal finances. But as it turns out, maintaining a personal finance calendar can be quite helpful.
Why Should You Create a Personal Finance Calendar?
There are many potential benefits of using a personal finance calendar, and creating one can help you manage your money with more ease. It can help you:
- Remember important dates, like payment due dates
- Make it easier to plan ahead for major purchases
- Ensure you stay on track with your financial goals
- Remind you to check in on various tasks and metrics, such as your progress toward paying off debt
- Allow you to make proactive money moves to optimize finances, taxes and more
How to Create a Personal Finance Calendar
A personal finance calendar can be completely separate, or you can combine it with your existing calendar system. Here’s what to keep in mind when establishing your own setup.
Choose a Calendar System
A personal finance calendar can take any number of forms, including:
- A physical calendar
- A digital calendar, using Google Calendar or iCloud Calendar
- An app-based calendar
- A spreadsheet calendar
It’s helpful to use a calendar system that you’re already familiar with. Physical calendars are great for at-home use, but digital options offer more flexibility and mobility.
With digital calendars, filtering makes it simple to differentiate personal finance tasks from standard calendar entries. For instance, with Google Calendar, you can create separate calendars using the same account. You can then select which calendars you want to view by checking or unchecking each option. Once you’ve selected a system to use, it’s time to start adding entries.
First, add the days that you get paid. Ideally, this should be the day that your paycheck actually hits your checking account and funds become available for your use. It’s helpful to have reminders of paydays to know when to schedule bill payments, money transfers, and other important tasks.
Add Recurring Bills and Expenses
Next, add due dates for any bills and recurring expenses. It’s also helpful to list the amount of each bill, and perhaps even the payment method. For example, an entry might read: January 5th – Internet bill. $65. Autopay scheduled from checking account.
Most bills are due on a monthly basis, but also watch out for expenses that come less frequently. For example, car insurance is often prepaid in 6-month chunks. You’ll want to add all your upcoming expenses so that you can properly plan ahead.
You can also add entries for more variable expenses if you’d like. For instance, you can add a weekly grocery store run to your calendar, along with an estimated cost.
Add Key Dates
Now, add any other key dates to your calendar. This could include:
- Tax day (April 15th for most people)
- Dates of other tax payments (estimated taxes, property taxes, etc.)
- Deadlines for retirement contributions
- Loan milestones
- Deadlines for using or signing up for employer benefits (check with your workplace HR department for details)
- Deadlines for utilizing use-it-or-lose-it workplace benefits like a flexible savings account (FSA)
- Dates for planned money transfers
Depending on your lifestyle and financial situation, this could include a variety of other specific dates. If you’re a stock trader, for instance, you might add dates of key economic data reports, or even company earning report days.
Add Big Milestones (and Big Expenses)
Next, add any big upcoming milestones. This could include things like an upcoming trip, the date you plan to hit a certain financial goal or the day you plan to retire. Also in this category should be any big one-time expenses that are coming up. This could be wedding expenses, holiday travel costs, or any other significant one-time expense.
Add Key Financial Goals — In Bite-Sized Chunks
We all have financial goals we are working towards. Maybe we’re trying to pay off credit card debt or save for retirement. Or maybe we just want to build up an emergency fund to reduce financial stress in our lives.
Whatever the goal, it can be helpful to add reminders and milestones to our personal finance calendars. If needed, try to break things down into bite-sized chunks.
For instance, maybe you’re hoping to save $3,000 towards retirement this year. That breaks down to $250 per month. So, you could add a reminder on the 1st of every month to transfer $250 to your retirement account.
Add “Wishlist” Purchases and Goals
Now we’ve covered all the basics, it’s time to dream bigger. What are some aspirational purchases, experiences, or goals that you could add to your calendar?
Maybe it’s a concert that you want to attend, a trip you want to take, or a luxury purchase you want to make. Even if you suspect you won’t be able to afford it, you can still add it to your calendar as a reminder to work towards. If you continue taking positive steps towards a brighter financial future, who knows — maybe those wishlist items can become a reality.
Take Charge of Your Personal Finances
Building a personal finance calendar can help remind you of key dates so that you don’t overlook anything important. It can also help you with managing your budget, breaking bigger goals down into manageable chunks, and more.
For more valuable insights on personal finance, explore the rest of the Happy Money blog. We cover topics including debt payoff, investing, budgeting, and much more.