“To whom much is given, much is required.” When I first started my business, I hadn’t been saving for years and planning my exit from Corporate America, my release from my employer was sudden. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even been thinking of starting a business in the near future. Yes the business plan had been written and had even began collecting dust, but there wasn’t a date, time frame or realistic plan of when I was going to take it on. Nonetheless, when I found myself unemployed, I did what came natural; I started my own business. As a single mother, I knew I couldn’t support my family on the meager wages employers were offering and working two jobs wasn’t an option. Who would tend to my children?
No matter what the circumstances that exist when beginning a business, the process and priorities are virtually the same. The most important thing I had to learn was budgeting. I had to find away to make the money I had last longer, accomplish more and generate a return. The easiest way for me to do this, was withdrawing the cash money that I had allotted myself for each week and only using that amount to accomplish what needed to be accomplished, groceries, utilities, transportation, etc. I had to get out of the habit of swiping my debit card. I realized that I spent more and was less aware of my spending when I wasn’t using cash.
I remember when the debit card was first introduced in the banking world. They wanted us to make sure every customer had a debit card. I think the banks had done their research, using credit cards as a model, and noticed that people spend more when it is not cash being exchanged but plastic. Well swiper no swiping, I went back to what worked. I can remember older customers coming in with their envelopes, one was usually marked spending money and the other bills, or something along those lines. But the concept here, is that they knew how and where their money was being spent and made a point to stay within in budget.
5 tips for maintaining a budget:
1. Write out your monthly expenses and then also account for the money that you have coming in. Paint a realistic picture of how you spend your money. Use old banking statements or look over receipts, this will give you an idea of where you spend your money.
2. Set a dollar figure that is less than what is coming in. Make sure you have listed all the necessary bills to be paid. Then also look for ways to cut back on your current bills. I recently began saving about $30 on my monthly cell phone bill with AT&T. I had previously had the unlimited calling plan which cost 69.99 a month, plus unlimited data and text message. Well they recently introduced new calling plans that allow unlimited calls from mobile to mobile. Well everyone uses a cell phone nowadays, I reduced my plan to 450 anytime minutes (with rollover) and now I am saving $30 on that alone. Since I am saving that, it doesn’t mean I find another way to spend it, I save it.
3. Carry cash. I know it seems like a prehistoric concept but carrying cash and putting those debit cards up will have a drastic impact on how much you spend. It will also reduce those spur of the moment spending habits. I have also noticed that some places reward you for paying with cash, paying for gas and at a recent visit to a restaurant 10% off.
4. Pay your bills on time. Who wants to pay late fees? I know I don’t and let’s face it, late fees are a waste of money. Set up automatic payments. Since you won’t be using your debit card, you can rest assured that there will be money in the bank to cover any recurring debits. This will also give you the peace of mind knowing that the bills are paid and on time.
5. Cut coupons. This is something that I am still getting familiar with and trying to get in the habit of doing, but coupons can not only help you save but in some case cut your budget in half. We all have to budget for food and groceries. Imagine having a $500 monthly budget for food and walking in the grocery store and getting $500 worth of food for less than $300. People have been saving even more, according to extreme couponers.
I have put each one of these tips to practice and the results have definitely been worth it. I budget a very small monthly income, but I am able to meet all of my expenses and still put money into my business to keep it afloat. I am also able to support other business, tithe and donate. One thing I will say, giving %10 and not managing the other %90 will not get you the blessing that you have been hoping and praying for. You have to become a better steward of the 90%.
- Swiper, No Swiping! (richesandglory.wordpress.com)