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Using BAR to improve money management success

The fluctuating economy affects everyone; whether in business, on a personal level, or both.  Businesses close, individuals lose jobs, and homes foreclose leaving all to reevaluate, restructure, and rebuild.

  • According to Gallup, the Mid-February 2012 unemployment rate was at 9.0%.
  • reports that more than 6 million mortgages in the United States are overdue to date.
  • Businesses flying blind with bad numbers, or no numbers, are the first to go during difficult times according to the New York Times Business Day blog, January 2011. In your experiences, how does a business get to that point?

It is often misunderstood by businesses that accounting firms hired primarily to do the taxes are also keeping watch over the business. Unless agreed to by the accounting firm, that is usually your job, one of the many hats an entrepreneur has to wear until a real one is hired.

Learning and applying some simple bookkeeping techniques might help you personally and your business minimize the risk of becoming a statistic.  Budgeting, Allocating, and Reconciling are key to maintaining monetary control in uncertain times.

To begin, Budgeting is a valuable tool to help learn exactly how much money is coming in, where it goes, and how fast. It is a visual starting point for managing your money.  Identifying the motivating factor(s) for creating the budget, can help keep you motivated.  What would motivate YOU to create and maintain a budget?

  • Most people use a Monthly time-frame for budgeting; however, one can also base it on how often they get paid.
  • List all sources of income and amounts such as your Net Salary/ Wage, Self-Employment/Business Income, Interest Income, and Investment Income; as well as Unemployment, Child Support, or Pension/Retirement as applicable.
  • List all expenses and amounts including the fixed/recurring living and operating expenses such as those necessary for upholding the family or business on a monthly basis; and discretionary expenses such as hobbies, manicure/pedicure, massage, kid’s activities, meals and entertainment, vacations/travel, or the “luxuries of life”.

You now have a visual snapshot to make informed spending decisions; have control over necessary and unnecessary expenses; and a tool for working toward debt elimination. Wouldn’t you like to have early warning signals for potential financial problems?

Armed with the Budget categories and amounts, the next step is to begin allocating the types of income and expenses as they occur.

Using ledger paper, Excel, or accounting software, create a document with 12 columns, and a Yearly Total column, with your Budget categories listed down the left side of the page.

Think of a coin sorter or a filing cabinet.  Allocating is filing or sorting similar items into a category, also known as an account.

  • Sometimes you may see areas where you are either over the original budget, or actually under budget.
  • Allocating regularly, at least monthly, a pattern is being created on real life cash flow.  These actual numbers will help fine tune the budget to meet your particular situation.

Who reconciles their Bank and Credit Card Statements? How often do you do this? This last accounting basic is important for several reasons.

  • One is that you can see if the bank has made a mistake in your account.
  • You might find deposits or withdrawals that you have not made.
  • You might also find that you have made a mistake in your own records.
  • If you don’t have accurate information about the amount of money in your account, you cannot make accurate financial choices.

Managing income and expenses does take effort and time; however, the result can be very valuable.  Try implementing the “Bar Process” of Budgeting, Allocating, and Reconciling, and raise the bar of money management success even in the lean times.

If all this seems a bit daunting, you can always contact us or schedule a brief call for help.