Every year at this time most people and companies do a reassessment of their finances. A quick look at their assets and liabilities might result in either a big smile or perhaps a grimace. One thing few are happy about is the amount they will pay to the government. This is the time of year where staring at that account balance makes you feel like your CPA is your best friend or your worst enemy.
Well, you really can't blame the noble CPA for your condition. Regardless of your tax situation, the net balance in your accounts is a direct result of your own behavior and your own daily choices. You control both your incoming revenue and your accounts payables. The problem is that many don't pay regular attention to the details unless something is amiss.
Monday is a great day for scheduling a regular activity. It sets the tone for the whole week. If you're not happy with your bank balance, try spending 30 minutes each Monday on these simple financial activities and watch your financial condition improve in a few short weeks.
1. Live without one luxury.
A luxury doesn't have to be expensive. It could be as small and simple as the brand of coffee you are buying or as big as driving that gas guzzling SUV. Find something simple and try going without it for the week. You may find that you like seeing an extra $25 in the bank more than you miss that daily Macchiato. Nearly every business has something that they can do without for at least a week. You just won't know what it is until you try it.
2. Call one person who owes you money.
Accounts payable can be a big issue for companies and individuals alike. If someone owes you money, you need to collect. Money can be a difficult subject, especially with friends, family, and big clients. But you don't need to approach the situation by hiring a thug with a baseball bat. Call the debtor and have a reasonable five-minute conversation. Offer solutions such as payment plans or ways you can help with client referrals. Perhaps even send them this column. Just get the dialogue going and remind them you are there to help.
3. Reduce one item in your budget by a few percent.
Every business and individual should have a scheduled list of expenses, but most don't visit it regularly. Most likely, given a little attention, there are ways to reduce your spending on many of those line items. Here's your chance: Pick one item each week and commit to finding a way to reduce it. Perhaps it's by switching vendors, cutting consumption, or buying bulk in advance. Just apply some mental energy and tackle one item each week.
4. Put a little aside.
Saving is easier for some and harder for others. The best way to save is to make it automatic. If your cash flow is variable, at least create the habit of savings. Each Monday move some money from your pocket or your bank account into a safe place. It could be $1 or $1,000, but put it in a place that is hard to get to. For decades my CPA has told me about his "Fishing Account." He regularly takes a little bit of money and feeds this account earmarked for his future fishing trips. Create an account or use a hard-to-access piggy bank. Once the savings start to accumulate it will perk you up every week.
5. Work on cash generating ideas.
The best way to increase your bank account is to make more money. Most individuals and companies alike have control of their own destiny. Do a little brainstorming with your team about how you can make more sales, or develop a new product. Then dedicate time during the week to further the best ideas. If you are on your own, think about all the ways you can get more money coming in. Perhaps you can increase performance, find a better position, or even start a new company. Figure out a path that energizes you and take action.