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Budgeting Business Finances in an Economic Crisis


In these tough financial times, more and more businesses fall into financial despair and need extra funding in this bad economy. Many of these businesses could change their financial position somewhat by focusing on their budget and cutting it THE BONE.

The first step to take, which is the easiest and fastest, is to cut out that unnecessary spending.

At first glance, you might think that your budget is very tight and there is nothing in there to cut. As a business owner and financial consultant for over 20 years, I have found that this is seldom the case. There are almost always ways to cut costs and save money.

A big mistake most businesses make is not taking the time to prepare a budget when times are good. Typically business owners tend to take an interest into budgeting money once they’re in financial trouble. Their debts have piled up, their income doesn’t seem to cover their bills and habits, and they are stressed out as a result. Does this sound familiar? If so, you probably need to learn the usual budgeting techniques.  

Budgeting and financial planning are the cornerstones of responsible money management. Not only that, but they are vital in developing a workable plan for the future, and can even reduce stress. While many businesses shy away from the accountability and responsibility required to create and maintain an accurate budget, buckling down and building a budget can ultimately help reduce stress and worry, and lead to a more pleasant and fulfilling life.

Before getting started, it’s important to define what a budget is, and what it is not. It is not just a list of where your money goes each month. A budget is a comprehensive overall picture of your financial situation where money comes in, where it goes out, and what it’s spent on. A budget is a plan, a map of the financial future. It should include salaries, bonuses, bills, insurance, savings, and other expenditures. It should be divided into wants and needs and should be organized as a line-item list, with each item

categorized and accounted for.

Most importantly, a budget should be accurate. Creating a budget that is inaccurate is a complete waste of time. People often create budgets that reflect where they want to be financially, or that ignore certain one-time-only expenditure this is not going to be effective. Instead of focusing on where you want to be and fudging the lines of where you are, make your budget an accurate and honest reflection of your current economic situation. Once you have that in place, you will be able to more easily identify where changes can and should be made, and you can begin to transform your financial situation by spending and saving responsibly.

Just as a budget should be honest and accurate, it should also be flexible. While, whenever possible, we try to plan for the unexpected, it is a fact of life that there will be times you need to go beyond your budget, a financial crisis, for example. This is understandable, and does not indicate some failure on your part to plan. In such situations, simply keep account of your spending and adjust your budget for subsequent months, where possible, to make up for the extra expenditures.

The most important thing to remember about a budget is that it is a living, breathing thing “well, not really, but it should be treated as such. A budget will do you no good if you create it then put it aside and never look at it again. A budget should be updated monthly and kept on hand for quick reference and revision. Keeping your budget up to date will allow you to see not only where you are financially, but will help you see how to get where you’d like to be.

Creating an accurate budget is important not only because it helps you see where you are financially, but also helps you map out the road to where you’d like to be.

What makes up a good budget? What expenses should you include in the budget? What can you do about variable expenses in your budget? How can you personalize a budget?

Where are you going?

The key to a good budget or spending plan is knowing where you have been and where you want to go. Knowing where you have been is done by insuring you have written down where all you money has been going. You can find this information by categorizing and reviewing your last 6 months of check registers or other accounting methods you have been employing. If you have no such method in place, you have just uncovered your main budgeting problem which is the first item to be corrected.

If on the other hand you use a check register or other means but have numerous general entries such as “cash” or “miscellaneous” or other unidentifiable labels, this too must be corrected. You MUST know where your money is going before you can divert it. I recommend carrying a small spiral notebook for at least 2 weeks (longer is far better) and recording every cash transaction. You will truly be amazed by what you learn from this experience.

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