You may think that a calendar is just a tool to remind you of Grandma’s birthday or your next dentist visit.
Much like other simple frugal tools, you can learn to manage your money by using a calendar. For a few bucks, you can greatly simplify your life and start saving more.
Here are some simple ways to make your calendar work for your finances:
Bill paying. Do you ever feel like all your bills come pouring in at once and then you’re left to pinch pennies until your next payday? It could be because all of your bills ARE coming in at once. Use a calendar to mark out when all of your monthly bills arrive and when they are due. If they appear to be all bunched up, contact the companies and see if you can change the billing date. Many credit card companies and some utility companies will let you change your billing cycle. This way you can spread the bills out over the course of the month and make it easier for you to manage your money.
Know when the money comes in. Use your calendar to keep track of when your paydays are and when any windfalls may come (such as income tax refunds). This task is especially helpful for those of you who have inconsistent incomes due to seasonal work, etc. It’s much easier to budget when you have a clear sense of when the money comes in and when it goes out.
Trip planning. No, I’m not talking about taking vacations. I’m talking about combining trips for errands and activities. Use your calendar to plot out all of your family’s activities for the month and you’ll be able to see ways that you can combine trips. Perhaps you can get an oil change while your daughter is at soccer practice, or plan a shopping trip after your dentist appointment. When you combine trips, you’ll not only save time, you’ll save money on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Menu planning. When you know what social calendar looks like, you’ll also be able to have a clear idea of what your dinner plans will need to be. Make a few meals to put in the freezer for those busy nights and budget for a meal out after a school activity, and your budget will survive a crazy schedule.
Manage maintenance tasks. Write on your calendar when you perform maintenance tasks such as oil changes, furnace and air conditioner maintenance, dentist and doctor appointments, and vet visits. You’ll be keeping a record of what you’ve already done and be able to plan ahead for future maintenance expenses.
Plan for gift giving. Keep track of family and friends’ birthdays and anniversaries on your calendar and recognize that there are certain times of year that particular deals can be found. When you know well in advance of when a gift is needed, you’ll have time to find deals or handcraft a special card or gift.
These are just some of the ways you can use a calendar to help you manage your money. If you don’t have a calendar, keep your eyes open for free or cheap ones. Businesses often give out free calendars during the holidays. You can also print off your own calendars using your computer using a program like Microsoft Office or Google Docs. You can create electronic calendars using Google Calendar or your smartphone. And of course, you can always wait until mid-to-late January and pick up the current year’s calendars at great discounts.