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How to Master Your Year With a Financial Annual Planning Calendar

Chris Gottschalk

Chris Gottschalk About The Author

Jan 11, 2024 4:49:00 PM

It's the beginning of a new year, and you are ready for it. Your monthly spending plan is up to date, you're regularly putting aside a percentage of each paycheck, and you've even been setting financial goals and making them SMART. You're pretty sure you're prepared to get the most out of the next 12 months.

While there's no question that all of these will set you up for financial success, there's one more step you should take if you really want to take your finances to the next level. It's called a personal financial annual planning calendar, and creating one can help you maximize your finances until next January.

How can a personal financial annual planning calendar help you master your year?

Financial annual planning calendar

What is a Personal Annual Financial Planning Calendar?

As you might expect, a personal annual financial planning calculator is a calendar that shows you the next 12 months. On a financial planning calendar, though, instead of keeping track of dentist visits and kids' soccer practices, you'll be tracking important financial dates, like tax deadlines. You'll also write in dates where you're planning to have major expenses, such as:

You can also include other important dates, like tax deadlines and loan payments, and even include reminders for other financial activities.

Benefits of a Personal Annual Financial Planning Calendar

Right now, you might be wondering why you should go though the effort of setting up a separate calendar for personal financial planning, especially if you already have a traditional calendar. What benefits does an annual financial planning calendar offer?

An annual financial planning calendar gives you an overview of your financial situation

When you create a financial planning calendar for your personal finances, you're creating an overview of what your entire year will look like. While a monthly budget can help you control your day-to-day finances, a financial planning calendar can help with strategic planning for events months in the future.

One way a financial calendar can help you plan is by showing you how long you have to save for events. For instance, if you usually have a Fourth of July party, you can make a note of that on the calendar. Once you've done that, you can estimate how much you have to pay, and from there you can work backwards to figure out how much you'll need to save every paycheck in order to fund your party.

An annual planning calendar helps you prioritize your financial goals

You can also use the information in a personal financial planning calendar to help you prioritize your financial goals. If you know you'll have several expenses in February, March and April, for instance, you might decide to hold off on saving for your financial goals until May or June.

You can also use the calendar to determine when you'll be able to save for more expensive financial goals versus less expensive ones. Going back to the previous example, you might not have much money to dedicate towards an expensive financial goal earlier in the year, but you might have one or two small goals you can work towards while you're setting money aside for those large expenses.

You can even use the financial planning calendar to further break down your financial goals into monthly or quarterly targets. This not only helps you visualize how much progress you've made throughout the year, it's also a great motivator if you have multi-year long-term financial goals. On the other hand, if you aren't able to meet your monthly or quarterly targets, you can use that information to adjust your goals to either help get you back on track or reschedule the date you want to reach them.

A financial planning calendar reminds you when to perform financial tasks

You can add in repeating tasks to your annual planning calendar to ensure your finances are up-to-date. For instance, you can schedule times to:

  • Review and adjust your budget
  • Review your insurance policies
  • Organize your files to get rid of old bills and statements

Create your budget for the new year today!

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How to Create Your Personal Annual Financial Planning Calendar

Now that you're aware of all the benefits of a personal annual financial planning calendar, you might be wondering how you can create one yourself. Here's how to get started.

Step 1: Select a calendar

The first step in creating an annual planning calendar is to figure out what kind of calendar you'll use. You're probably aware of all the different options for calendars, and they all have their advantages. Wall calendars, for instance, let you easily flip back and forth between months, while digital tools like smartphone calendars are more portable and easier to change which days of the week or month an event will fall on.

It's also worth pointing out that you can also use digital tools like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to create your own calendar. This is more work, but it also has the advantage of letting you structure it however you want.

When you're selecting the type of planning calendar that will work best for you, think about how you want to view all this information. Some people want to see all of next year laid out at once, while others might want to be able to focus on their weekly schedules on a monthly calendar. You'll also want to determine if you're happier printing your calendar out and working with a physical copy, or if you're more comfortable using digital items.

Step 2: Write in expected big expenses

Once you've selected your calendar, it's time to start filling it in. The first step is to write in all the significant expenses you expect to pay. Here are some guidelines when adding them to your calendar:

  • Take into account big purchases and financial commitments
  • Include expected costs for events like birthdays, vacations and holidays
  • Factor in yearly subscriptions or memberships to gym, club, or associations
  • Don't forget to include important events like tax day

Once you have these expenses written in, you'll have a pretty good annual financial planning calendar that will make preparing for these events easier. If you want to make your calendar more comprehensive though, you can go to the next step.

Financial planning calendar benefits

Step 3: Put in the dates you plan to reach any financial goals

Now that you have all your expected expenses listed, you can start adding in your financial goals to the annual calendar. Look at all the financial goals you'd like to achieve this year, and go through your calendar template to figure out the best dates to reach them. If you like, you can also use the information you have when you made your goals SMART (you did make your goals SMART, right?) to write down a roadmap of when you want to reach weekly or monthly milestones.

Step 4: Add in repeating monthly financial tasks

Finally, schedule your financial tasks. Start by looking at monthly financial tasks, such as budget reviews, portfolio reviews and savings contributions. Once you've listed those, you can move on to tasks you only need to do once a year, like getting rid of outdated material in your files.

Here are some other financial tasks you might want to add into your yearly calendar:

  • Review your estate plan
  • Inventory your home and personal property for insurance purposes
  • Check your retirement contributions

What are some common mistakes to avoid when creating an annual planning calendar?

When creating an annual planning calendar, some common mistakes to avoid include not setting realistic goals, not regularly updating and reviewing the calendar, and not accounting for unexpected events or changes. It's important to be flexible and adaptable while still staying focused on your financial goals.

Got questions about financial planning for the future? Ask us! 

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Plan for the Year Ahead With First Alliance Credit Union

A personal annual financial planning calendar is a powerful tool that can help you take control of your finances and achieve your financial goals. You can use it to give yourself a head start on saving for events like holidays and vacations, create timelines to reach your financial goals and even schedule financial tasks like reviewing your budget and making savings contributions.

You can also get help planning for the year ahead by taking advantage of the resources at First Alliance Credit Union. You can use our budget worksheet to create or update your monthly budget, and our SMART goal packet will help you set short-term and long-term financial goals. If you're a member, you can even use the free My Money tool in our online banking platform and mobile app to make financial planning that much easier.

Get more tips for creating an annual financial calendar on the Good Money Moves podcast. Listen now!

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