I have had my eye on CalendarBudget for YEARS. See? This is me with my EYES on it!
It first caught my eye when I was looking for something that worked well with the Envelope Budgeting System.
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I soon realized that using envelopes was not going to work in my marriage, no matter how much I love the idea. So I walked away and tried a few things over the years, mostly my credit union’s online system and then a good ‘ol fashioned excel spreadsheet. I don’t mind if my banking/budgeting/tracking isn’t completely automated because I feel like manually working with the numbers helps me really, fully understand what’s happening.
Time for a Change?
But this past tax season I started feeling the urge to look around again. I wanted easier tracking that wasn’t tied to my credit union, in case anything ever happened with THEIR system. I also wanted a way to see my ENTIRE financial picture, including credit cards. In order to travel for free I do make use of credit cards and pay them off at least twice a month. But this approach is fairly new to me and I wanted a way to see the credit card spending alongside my checking account, in real time. Lastly, we moved from monthly paychecks to every other week. After 15 years of monthly paychecks, this had been an adjustment and aligning with a calendar made sense to me.
Why I Could Never Forget CalendarBudget
I always remembered CalendarBudget because, well, I love calendars! I am a planner and my brain works like a calendar. Being able to automatically have expected income and expenses entered allows you to forecast your future balances. Using a calendar format to see where and WHEN your money is moving is much more intuitive than just a list of budget categories.
If you ARE on a tight budget, CalendarBudget helps you easily see when your balance might be in trouble. At any time, you can look ahead and see your account balance on any future date. You can also look at your calendar to see when those bills are due and get calendar reminders so you can avoid late payments.
I mentioned that I do NOT use envelope budgeting. I know a lot of people aren’t using actual cash and paper envelopes (some of you are and I love that!). But with CalendarBudget, you can “put” your budgeted money (cash) into the categories (envelopes). As you spend that money, it’s automatically deducted from the category/envelope so you can easily see how much is left for that month. This is such an easy way to stick to your budget!
CalendarBudget offers you a series of videos to show you how to use all the features. These are organized into a Video Budgeting course, or you acn watch their YouTube channel. The videos have been around for awhile but they really do show you what you’ll need to know as you move forward. Watching one a day is a great way to start wrapping your head around the program and building your new habit. I watched these as I started my FREE TRIAL and now I can’t remember NOT managing my money this way.
My Favorite Features
- CALENDAR VIEW/FORMAT/APPROACH – it just works with my brain and I think most people are used to calendars so it makes sense to them.
- Drag n drop – super easy to move transactions around to match with the true picture OR help you plan for different scenarios.
- Easy to see your category spending as month progresses.
- Easy to reconcile – I feel like reconciling is VERY helpful. I do have to be careful because I can get stressed out when things aren’t perfectly reconciled!!
- Ability to see each account individually OR all of them together.
- $4.75/month when you pay for the year up front. WORTH IT!
- FREE TRIAL – yup. Try it out for a full month. See if it’s right for you.
Room for Improvement
- You can only split an entry into 2 categories – so I sometimes then split the entry AGAIN. This is mostly an issue for those Target runs when you get food AND cleaning stuff AND personal care items AND pet food, etc.
- NO subcategories – this is a holdover from my Quicken days. But I have to be careful not to drill down TOO specifically, so I’m looking at this as a way to keep me in check!
- CalendarBudget does NOT automagically connect to your online accounts. You need to manually enter transactions OR download your bank transactions. I actually prefer this, as it forces me to put my eyes on each transaction. Downloading and then loading the bank or credit card transactions is VERY VERY easy.
I find I don’t use the app much. When I am working on finances, I need to be at the computer so that I can really focus. But on occasion I HAVE entered a transaction “on the go” with the app. I’m sure younger people would use it more than fogies like me!
How I use the “Envelope” Budgeting Feature
So I do things a little differently because I don’t work with a strict budget but do try to track spending in different categories over time for ongoing comparison and so I can notice any trends. Sometimes I need yearly totals in categories for taxes or financial aid purposes. Because I have NOT entered budget amounts (for the Envelope feature), I have budget category totals show as NEGATIVE amounts (because, theoretically, my budget amounts are zero). So it’s very easy for me to glance at those and see how much I’ve spent in each month in each category. After each month, I print those out and have a record of the monthly spending by category.
Consider CalendarBudget if….
If you do envelope or bucket budgeting, CalendarBudget will work REALLY REALLY well for you! So consider this if you are ready to get a handle on your finances, have debt you want to clear or are saving up for something big. I think it’ll be really motivating to WATCH as your goals approach. Also consider this if you sometimes pay bills late. This will definitely help.
But for me, I just love the calendar approach AND being able to see my credit accounts alongside with my checking and savings. I get the full picture and I love that!
Try CalendarBudget FREE for a month!
Added August 2022:
Do you have an older teen or young adult you’d like to start out on the right financial foot? I was telling my young adult about CalendarBudget and showed her around the program and app. I don’t think she’ll adopt it just yet because her current finances are pretty simple. But I told her when she’s ready I’ll gift her with it because I think it’s so useful and comprehensive. For young adults I think the main benefits are:
Gets them into habit of recording spending. Everything is automated and digital now. It’s easy to just watch your spending HAPPEN and CalendarBudget encourages a bit more intentionality. This also helps identify any patterns over time.
Gets them thinking ahead and planning. With the calendar, you don’t just have a list of categories, but can LOOK AHEAD to a projected total in any account. You’ll know how much you’ll have on any day.
Allows for “envelope” budgeting, only spending WHAT YOU HAVE and not borrowing ahead. If I could, I would make my kids use the envelope system when they start out until they have a solid grasp on money management!!! But this brings the envelope system into the modern age.
Brings together ALL their accounts, especially if they have a credit card. You can get the COMPLETE financial picture in one place. It might be hard for a young person with limited financial experience to understand how credit cards impact that total since it’s not withdrawn as charges are made.
Helps save for a goal. All of the reasons above really help make saving easier, especially when the income and expenses are laid out chronologically.
Have your teen or young adult try CalendarBudget FREE for a month!