For over a week, we’d been receiving reminders that our building’s water would be turned off for a day. I didn’t enter it in my calendar because I kept telling myself that there was no way I’d forget something this big. Even the day before it happened, I reminded myself that we had to wake up early and shower or we’d have no water with which to do so. Well, guess which family spent a day totally unshowered this week? YUP. I promise never to doubt you in favor of my own brain, oh mighty calendar.
As a mom and, more recently, as a very pregnant mom with a toddler, I’ve started relying more and more on my phone calendar. There’s just so much to remember all the time, and my brain just isn’t what it used to be. It’s not just the calendar itself — it’s the trusty reminders the calendar gives me a day or an hour before an event. Anything that needs to be remembered on a specific day is worthy of a calendar entry and reminder. And that includes finances, too. More and more, Johnny and I have seen our calendars becoming our very own personal financial assistants.
So here are just a few ways the basic calendar can help keep your finances in check:
Johnny and I both love free trials. I’ll burn through every single one of my email addresses in order to get as many free trials as I can. But free trials usually require a credit card on file, which means a company can automatically charge you as soon as that free trial is up. And that ain’t about to happen on our watch. By setting a calendar reminder for a day or two before the offer expiration, you can keep getting freebies to your heart’s content without worrying about falling for their tricks.
Setting Bill Reminders
As much as possible, we use paperless, automatic bill pay on our utilities and other bills. But inevitably, we have at least one monthly bill that can’t be automated. And without that monthly bill reminder on our phones, that bill sometimes gets glanced at and immediately forgotten. If you’re the same, this might be worth considering. And can I just say hallelujah Blockbuster Video rentals can no longer suck late fees out of my wallet.
Remembering Annual Fees
Another reminder to add to your finance calendar is any annual fees that will come due, like a credit card. We try to avoid any and all fees, but our current Southwest VISA card is worth the $69/year fee for us. So when it comes due each year, it’s good to be able to reassess whether that credit card is still being used and whether it’s worth its yearly cost before the credit card company charges you for another year.
And just in case you do forget to cancel and get charged an annual fee (which you won’t because you’re setting up a finance calendar as we speak, right?), most credit card companies will waive the fee if you cancel within a few weeks of the charge. Some might even waive or heavily discount the fee if you agree to hold onto the card.
Your calendar can also be used to check the balances on your banking and credit card accounts. We do this once a month, checking to make sure all our credit card balances have been paid in full, that our automated bills have actually been processed, and that our checking account has enough money in it for our larger beginning-of-the-month expenses (i.e., rent and tithes).
Adding Daily Expenses
If you aren’t one to enter expenses in your budget in realtime, it might be helpful to set up a daily reminder to enter all your expenses at the end of the day or first thing each morning. Johnny and I are planning to implement this into our calendars starting in April since our days are so filled at the moment that we sometimes forget.
Setting Monthly Budget and Recording Net Worth
Each month requires a reassessment of our budget and making any necessary tweaks or changes to it before the next month starts. It’s also a time to record changes to our net worth for that month. It doesn’t take long, but if we don’t carve out a specific time to do it, it’ll never happen. Johnny and I have started setting a monthly calendar date when we force ourselves to sit down and hammer this out. Currently, it’s the Sunday night before the new month starts.
If you have certain financial benchmarks you’re trying to meet, a calendar is a great way to visualize them. Do you want to have a specific amount of debt paid off six months from now? Or perhaps a specific amount saved three months from now? Enter it in your calendar as a reminder and something to look forward to. Seeing that big-picture perspective can be a great way to maintain focus and motivation.
Those are just a few ways your calendar can help your finances. Any other calendar and reminder addicts out there? Do you use your calendar to organize your finances?