Business Week: Better Your Budget!

Day 2 of Business Week At Tribe Appeal is here!

Before any business is brought to life finances must be in place, in most cases projected ahead of time. As a young woman in these trying economic times it may be hard to come up with the capital to begin turning that business idea in your head into reality. While there are many ways to gain financial assistance when starting a business (grants, loans, angel investments etc) you must have good money management skills or else that money will disappear with little to show for it. Budgeting money for your business is extremely important and it starts with you as a person. Here are six very easy steps to budgeting your money in a positive way!

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Step 1: The 30-Day Look-Back

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It’s up to you to keep track of your money, as well as your spending. So, how do you determine whether or not you’re in a good position when it comes to your money? Well, you’re the best judge when it comes to how you feel and your own spending behavior. Therefore, it’s a must that you know exactly how you’ve been dishing out that cash. And, according to Dominique Reese, there’s a fool-proof technique to help you get some insight on the way you spend. She calls it a ‘30-Day Look Back:

  • Pull out all of those receipts and your bank statements for the last 30 days.
  • Make categories for all the stuff you spent money on, including the total amounts of each. Be sure to include electronic transfers, ACH debits and checks written (if you still write those).
  • Include a category to track income for those 30 days, as well.

Step 2: Track Your Spending

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Tracking is a personal finance technique Domonique Reese  uses to help clients understand their spending behavior. She calls it the “holy grail of budgeting.” It’s extremely simple to do, once you get in the habit. The hardest part in the beginning is simply remembering to write down everything you spend. But, once it becomes habit, you will start to see results.

So, how does tracking your spending work?

  • Every single time your bank account sees an outflow, such as an ACH, electronic transfer or you write a check, track it by writing it down.
  • Each and every time you spend any amount of money, track it.
  • When the week ends, categorize all of the money you spent that week, including the dollar amounts.

Step 3: Update Your Written Budget

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The only way for you to practice budgeting is to actually create a budget. What is a budget?Simply put, it’s a written document outlining:

  • All incoming money
  • Where it’s all coming from
  • All money going out
  • What it’s going out on/for/to

One of the biggest keys to creating a budget is understanding that it must be in writing. Having your budget in your head is not effective. And, you will never reach your budgeting goals that way.

So, with that said, now it’s time for you to update your budget using the tips you’ve learned so far in steps 1 & 2:

  • Update your expenses categories on your 30-Day Look Back
  • Make sure there is a total dollar amount for each expense category of your 30-Day Look Back
  • Create a written budget
  • Transfer the expenses dollar amounts from your 30-Day Look Back to your written budget

Step 4: Determine Your Budgeting Frequency

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Hopefully, you’ve already taken the steps laid out for you in steps 1, 2 & 3. If not, you really should before moving on to determining your frequency. Now, let’s focus on the budgeting techniques that will win you the very best results.

You have to determine how often you will do you budgeting. As of now, you have data on your income and expenses for the last 30 days. For the average working woman, that equals out to two pay periods worth of expenses and income. In that case, you would create a budget every two weeks.

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However, it is advised that you start off budgeting personal finances every week. Then, once you’ve become comfortable going through the steps about 3-5 times, then you can switch it up. From there, you can do you budgeting bi-weekly, monthly, even quarterly, if that’s what’s best for your personal finance needs.

You must determine your budgeting frequency, based on what’s best for you, financially. If your financial situation is a hot mess right now, then go with budgeting everyday if you have to, then graduate after a few weeks. Starting off budgeting daily can really help to improve your personal finance situation. Either way, no matter which budgeting frequency you choose, make sure it’s one you can commit to, and do it consistently.

Step 5: Choose the Right Type of Budget for You

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Now, you have to determine the type of budget that’s best for your personal finance needs. Here are a few common choices for creating personal finance budgets:

  • Pen and paper
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Access database
  • Personal finance software (Quicken)
  • Personal finance app (Mint)

In time, as you review your budgets and 30-Day Look Backs, you will start to notice spending patterns. Your budgeting results will reflect your spending behavior, as well as your saving behavior (if it exists). But, until you put your personal finance budget in writing, there’s no way to visually “see” the ups and downs of your saving, spending and budgeting.

Step 6: Pay Attention to Your Money Story

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“Your money tells a story and the numbers never lie.” So, what is the story your money has been trying to tell you? What’s your money story?

Well, now you have numbers (exact amounts spent) to track your spending. And, you know exactly what you spent your money on (expenses categories). So, what’s the personal finance money story?

  • How much was your total income?
  • How much of that (and more) did you spend?
  • Are you spending more than you’re earning?
  • On what people, places and things do you spend the most?
  • On what people, places and things do you spend the least?
  • What about your spending behavior shocked you?
  • Do you often spend on the exact same things?
  • Are there things you can avoid spending on or at least reduce the amount spent?
  • Did you find that certain expenses had emotions tied to them?
  • Were you able to notice a drop or spike in your spending?
  • If so, how many times did the drop and/or spike occur? And, why?

Answering the questions above will help you write your own money story. Once you’ve written your money story, we’d love for you to share it with us.

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