|I had a budget when I was 9 years old...
My parents grew up during the Great Depression and wanted me to learn the value of a dollar. They taught me that, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep” and that, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
I learned early on that if I wanted to have enough money to buy a friend a birthday present, or a special treat for myself, I had to watch what I bought and put money away in my piggy bank. I think my parents were rare, and most kids don’t grow up with a budget, but I have carried these lessons with me throughout my life.
As a management consultant, some of the most difficult conversations I have with my clients are in the area of financial fitness. It often triggers unpleasant memories or embarrassing moments. We have all had difficult financial experiences and struggled at one time to make money or stay on top of bills.
Financial fitness, much like physical fitness, is a practice which you must engage in daily and constantly adapt to your business and lifestyle changes. Also like physical fitness, everyone has a different starting point and natural disposition for liking or disliking their practice. There’s no one right way to practice “Financial Fitness". The key is to build a practice that works for you. One that helps you create a budget, track spending, and manage cash flow, CONSISTENTLY. This practice will ensure that your employees and vendors are properly compensated, clients are invoiced, and your bills are paid on time. Being financially fit gives you the insight to make informed decisions that will go a long way towards achieving your amazing entrepreneurial vision, without feelings of financial guilt or fear getting in the way.
Starting your financial fitness practice may be scary; nobody wants to find out they are not going to make enough money to pay their bills in a few months. Remember, bad news doesn’t get better with age. Finding out now that you may have some financial issues on the horizon gives you options. These options may be to cut back on your expenses, work a little extra to boost your monthly income, defer a big purchase to manage cash flow, or to seek advice from a financial professional. All of these options are FAR better than the ones you will have when a “10-Day FINAL NOTICE” arrives and you have no money pay for it!
For someone who is just starting their practice of financial fitness I recommend Quickbooks’ “Small Business Accounting Checklist”.
It covers all the tasks and explains how to do them. Most people don’t need complicated accounting software or expensive accounting services to start practicing financial fitness. Typically, you just need a simple way to categorize finances, create a budget, and track income vs. expenses in a way that aligns with your daily, weekly and monthly financial needs.
The two most important things to keep in mind when your financial fitness practice is to: (1) keep it simple and (2) commit to something you are actually going to do; no, wishy-washy financial fitness (that’s what gets people in trouble in the first place)!
As my parents taught me, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep” because good financial fitness is key to bringing your vision to life!
You got this!