New Year’s resolutions came—and maybe went. You had all of these ideas about how organized you were going to be. You had committed to reworking your finances…but now it’s the end of January, and you’re feeling overwhelmed. All that gusto has started to fade.
It’s okay. It happens.
But, before you give up and decide to bury yourself under a pile of financial uncertainties, there are a few tricks you can do. You don’t have to throw all your financial resolutions out the window. You can’t put it off forever, but until you make the time, at least spend a few minutes getting your statements situated, then, maybe in at the end of the month, you can recommit, start fresh, and really hit a financial home run.
First, if you really are overwhelmed, consider a bookkeeper. Does that sound like a luxury? It’s not. For over a decade my business specialized in cleaning up QuickBooks files. The common denominator was that the owner or their unsuspecting assistant ended up doing the books, incorrectly, for years. You run a real business, and real businesses have bookkeepers. Consider hiring someone to help you; it’s not a luxury if you save money in the long run, or if you know that you are really not able to face the challenges of slogging through your own books. It’s not a failure—successful people surround themselves with other successful people.
Second, starting the New Year means that you need to check out your cash flow. Normally, a Cash Flow Awareness exercise would involve the last three months and, ideally, twelve months of statements, but if you are overwhelmed, then—just this once—I’ll encourage you to do the exercise with one month. I mean, at least it will give you an idea of where you stand, and that is better than no idea!
1. Grab your bank statements for one typical month. Don’t pick a month that you bought three computers or took a vacation, but the most recent typical month. This should include your business and personal accounts.
2. Add up your total income from your business—don’t forget to include other sources such as a job or distributions, if applicable, and don’t include transfers between bank accounts.
3. Enter the amount you spent that month for both business and personal expenses.
4. Total that amount. That is your monthly average.
5. Add up your personal and business expenses for that month and subtract it from your income.
It’s that simple—now you know where you stand and you can make adjustments here and there until you get up the energy (or hire a bookkeeper) to dig deeper. If you can, revisit this exercise soon using three or twelve months of statements. It’ll give you a better idea of your typical month-to-month expenditure.
Hang in there! The year is still fresh; don’t lose that commitment to creating a starting point for financial awareness.