Making a Personal Finance Calendar

personal finance calendarAre you a planner? Do you thirst for having the right information that can help you?

I know I tend to be this way, as it just happens to be how I roll.  Not for everyone, but planning ahead and having the right data gives me a feeling (perception?) of control and also points me in the right direction.  Making plans specific, without being too rigid, can also be really helpful.

Many of us tend to this sort of thing with our daily lives.  As in, putting together to-do lists for a day or Januarybe a week.  These lists can take on many different forms, including prioritization and such, but the main idea is that we make an informed plan.  It works for me, how about you?

How about taking this concept and applying it to our finances, while taking a full-year perspective?  I think this allows us to think holistically, and take into account all the factors that go into helping us get to where we want to go.  There can be so many aspects to personal finance that we don’t think of at any one moment, that planning things out a bit can get us structured.  Also, this can help us avoid wasted time in self-created crises or in dealing with minutia later.

Here is one way it could be done:

Step 1 – Assess Your Current Financial Situation

Take a look at your personal balance sheet, in terms of assets and liabilities.  Document everything, and have a clear understanding of where you are with your finances at present.

Also, try to examine your income and expenses.  If you’re tracking your expenses, it won’t be tough to get an understanding of how and where you’re spending money.  Either way, it’s good to know what your major payments are, and which ones are recurring.

Step 2 – Look at your Long-Term Goals

Once you’ve completed step one, and taken a realistic look at your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, you can look at goals.  Here is where we can understand the bigger picture goals on where we are aiming, longer-term.  This will help us shape intermediate decisions.

Step 3 – Look at your Short-Term Goals

If we know where we are now and where we want to be long-term, we can start to assemble short-term goals.  I look at short-term goals as starting with 1-year, and then breaking it down to quarterly and then monthly goals.  For example, in order to save $10,000 per year, a person might want to target $2,500 per quarter.  Then, this can be broken down to monthly goals.

Step 4 – Set up the Calendar

Building upon the first 3 steps, we can go month-by-month and map out what we plan to do.  This can include specific goals AND different action steps.

Here is one example (of many possible):

January

  • Document steps 1-3
  • Make appointment with tax professional
  • Target new job opportunities
  • Cut dining out by 50%, to establish improved habits

February

  • Make sure to collect all necessary tax documents
  • Review your 401(k) contribution percentages
  • Plan and book summer vacation in advance, to secure good prices
  • Get a copy of your credit report, check for errors and see where you stand

January

  • Complete and file your taxes
  • Start new side hustle
  • Actively network for new job

January

  • Do spring cleaning, purge unwanted items from your home (either sell or donate)
  • Secure new job

January

  • Rebalance your portfolio
  • Examine the 529 or other college savings accounts you might have for your kids, reevaluate and make any changes as necessary

January

  • Review your current insurance policies, to make sure they meet current needs; also shop for competitive rates
  • Continue to build your side hustle, taking it to the next level

January

  • Do a mid-year review of finances, revisiting steps 1-3 and making adjustments as necessary.
  • Plan and book any holiday or late year traveling to get good rates

January

  • Review 401k contribution percentages
  • Document all of your possessions, taking an inventory for the purpose of insurance or other needs
  • Secure an outstanding mid-year review at work

January

  • Review your estate plan, make sure that you have everything secured, and allocated as you currently wish
  • Get 2nd copy of credit report

January

  • Fall purge – get rid of unwanted clutter, donate or sell items
  • Plan and start your holiday shopping, to make sure you find the best deals and get everything done in time with little stress
  • Continue to build your professional network

January

  • Rebalance your portfolio
  • Examine the 529 or other college savings accounts you might have for your kids, reevaluate and make any changes as necessary

January

  • Make any end of year tax moves that can help you
  • Evaluate your past year, in terms of plan vs. actual results; try to understand what happened and why
  • Take time to be thankful for the good things you do have, spend time with family, and disengage from money thoughts for a while

This is of course simply an example of what a personal finance calendar could look like.  Some of the more general entries (such as “build your professional network”) could probably be made more specific or quantified.  But you get the idea.

Overall, the concept basically involves making a customized plan that works for your individual situation.

Readers, what do you think? 

Do you ever map out your goals and action steps throughout the year?  Do you follow steps 1-4 in any form?

If you had to make a calendar, what are some highlights in terms of how it might look?

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