How to Use a Budget Calendar to Save Time & Money (+ Freebie)

Unused finance apps on your smartphone staring at you in the face. Piles of budgeting worksheets on your desk that you started but didn’t finish. Your Facebook app tempting you to open up and scroll through your endless newsfeed of funny memes and political controversy.

Guilt, overwhelm, distraction… you’ll often experience these things when you’re attempting to get your finances in order. 

You’re too busy to be bogged down with complicated budgeting systems that you start but can never follow through with. You need something simple that you look forward to using every day.

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What is a Monthly Budget Calendar?

A Monthly Budget Calendar is a budget that uses a monthly calendar or planner. There are different variations and methods that people use for a Budget Calendar (some people also call it a Calendar Budget). Some use a monthly calendar or planner that you already have and use daily like the Living Well Planner (this is my favorite planner, get $5 off using my link).

In a budget calendar, you use each calendar day block to keep track of your real daily balance. It takes the guesswork out of your budget, and it allows you to visually get an idea of what to expect on any given day.

By knowing the balance for each day for the whole month, you can make sure you stay in the positive (or project whether you will go negative). Hence, you’ll be able to see the need to either hold off on certain expenses, transfer from your savings, or increase your income if needed.

Setting Up a Monthly Budget Calendar

To set up your budget calendar, you’ll need to decide if you want to use a planner that you already have or use a template like The Budget Calendar for Busy Moms.

You can sign up for “The Budget Calendar for Busy Moms” HERE

Next, at the top of your budget calendar, write (or type) your starting balance. To back up a little, the starting balance you will be using will be the ONE ACCOUNT (checking with debit card) that you use for all of your regular bills and expenses as well as your variable expenses (i.e. food, gas, etc.).

After that, write in all of your regular bills and expenses on the corresponding due dates. Write in the name of the bill as well as the amount due. I leave one line at the top of each daily block to write in the daily balance. I like to use the top of the block for the daily balance, but you can also write it in on the bottom.

When you’re done writing in your bills and expenses, write in your paychecks and amounts on the days you get paid. In The Budget Calendar for Busy Moms, expenses are listed towards the top of each block and income is listed at the bottom. It’s up to you where you’d like to place each.

Next to each bill, expense and income entry, draw a box. You will check this box off when you reconcile each item with your bank.

Pro Tip:  Color code regular bills and expenses with one color (I like to use pink or orange) and income in another (I like to use green).

Monthly Budget Calendar Setup Summary:

  1. Choose a calendar to use (your own or The Budget Calendar for Busy Moms)
  2. Write in Starting Balance
  3. Write in Regular Bills & Expenses
  4. Write in Paychecks
  5. Optional:  Color code bills & expenses and income

How to Use a Monthly Budget Calendar

Now that you have your Budget Calendar all set up, you can calculate the daily balances for each day and write them in. Note that your daily balances will change as you incur variable expenses, so it’s best to use a pencil.

Every time you pay for something (using your ONE account), enter in the expense and amount on the day that you incur the expense. When you’re done spending for the day, do the math to calculate your current daily balance.

At the end of the day, login to your bank account and check which income and expenses have gone through. When they clear through your account, be sure to check them off on your calendar.

You can go ahead and calculate all the daily balances if you need to know a certain day’s balance ahead of time. Alternatively, you can leave it as is and calculate it day by day.

Using a Monthly Budget Calendar Summary:

  1. Calculate and write in daily balances
  2. Enter in variable expenses (and income) as they occur
  3. Check bank account and check off cleared income/expenses
  4. Optional: Calculate new daily balances for the rest of the month

Pros of Using a Monthly Budget Calendar

  • Gives you a visual picture of your account status
  • Simple to set up
  • Simple to upkeep
  • Prevents your account from going negative and incurring overdraft fees
  • You can use your own calendar
  • Know how much you have to spend or how much you need to save for any given day in the future

Cons of Using a Monthly Budget Calendar

Benefits of Using a Digital Monthly Budget Calendar

As noted above, it can get tedious when calculating the daily balances for future days. When you incur new daily expenses, you’ll have to erase and recalculate every day left in the month. You don’t have to calculate every day in the future, but that’s one of the purposes for doing a budget calendar in the first place.

As an alternative to a paper budget calendar, you can use a digital calendar budget. It’s the same method, but easier to upkeep.

Introducing The Budget by Day Spreadsheets. It’s the digital upgrade to The Busy Mom’s Budget Planner. The calendar is already set up for you. All you need to do is enter in your regular bills, expenses and income before the start of the following month. Then enter in your variable expenses as you spend.

The best thing about The Busy Mom’s Budget Spreadsheets is that the daily balances are automatically calculated as you enter in every entry. No more dusting off all those eraser shavings or busting out your smartphone calculator, just enter your income or expense and watch your balance go up or down.

If you’re ready to try it out, you can check it out HERE.

Budget by Day Spreadsheets Logo

Here are a couple of other digital budget calendar options::

    • Features:
      • Free 30-day trial
      • Apps available through the App Store or Google Play
      • Manage your budget on a PC or your mobile device
      • Free Video Course – Budgeting Habit
  • PocketSmith
    • Features:
      • Free Basic plan available
      • Project daily bank balances up to 30 years ahead (6 months for the free plan)
      • What-if scenarios – test different scenarios to help you plan for future spending and saving decisions

Final Thoughts

Budgeting can be an intimidating task at times. It can be hard just to get started and even harder to stay consistent. With the simplicity of a budget calendar, it doesn’t have to be hard anymore. Whether you choose to use a paper budget calendar or a digital one, I am confident that you’ll feel confident with budgeting. Stay calm and BUDGET ON!

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