Using a calendar year vs. a fiscal year in your forecast

When you create a new company, LivePlan asks you to choose a start date for your forecast. You can set your LivePlan forecast to reflect either a calendar or a fiscal year. If you leave the default setting, LivePlan will automatically start your forecast in the current month. If you need to change the start date later, it's easy to do any time.

  • When your forecast start date is January, LivePlan will automatically create a calendar year forecast, with each year running from January through December in the same year.

  • When you set your forecast start date to a month other than January, LivePlan will create a fiscal year forecast. Each year will run 12 months from its start date in that forecast structure. For example, if you started a forecast in October 2023, the fiscal year would run from October 2023 through September 2024.

When you have a fiscal year forecast, the fiscal years are labeled according to the year in which they end. Using the previous example, with a forecast starting in October 2023 the fiscal year would end in September 2024 which would be labeled Fiscal Year 2024. All financial statements and tables will display that year as FY2024 as shown below:

fiscal year forecast example.png

You can change an existing forecast from a calendar to a fiscal year, and vice versa, at any time. For more details on what happens when you change the start date of your forecast, read Changing the start date of your forecast.


When to use a calendar year

  • Small businesses often use the calendar year, particularly those that don't have a significant seasonal variation in their operations due to its simplicity and alignment with personal tax schedules and many statutory reporting requirements.
  • The calendar year is straightforward, making it easier for businesses to compare financial performance with peers and for external stakeholders to understand their financials.


When to use a fiscal year

  • If you have a seasonal business, you may want your reporting period to reflect the seasonality of your business. For example, retail stores may see a large volume of sales in December and into January. For this reason, many stores have a fiscal year that runs from February to January to ensure their holiday season is captured in one year of reporting. 
  • Large corporations and businesses in certain industries (like retail, education, and government) often use a fiscal year that does not align with the calendar year.

We usually recommend starting your forecast in the first month when you have any financial activity, such as income or spending. That way, you can include start-up costs in your forecast if you need to. Remember that you can change your forecast start date, and thus your choice of fiscal or calendar year, in LivePlan at any time.



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