Field Notes Blog > Building a Budget: Where to Start?

  • Building a Budget: Where to Start?

    February 06, 2019

    Featured Guest Writer: Mary Bixler, AgChoice accounting officer 

    Budgets can be valuable tools to help manage our financials and make decisions for the future. However, building a budget, whether it is for your home, farm or business, can be very daunting.

    Oftentimes, the hardest part of putting together a budget is getting started. Below are a few tips that I recommend to make the process of budgeting more manageable.

    1. Start by looking at the big picture. Consider all of your sources of income and associated expenses. Try sorting your income and expenses into major categories and then fill in the details. Starting with extreme detail at first can be overwhelming.
    2. Compare your numbers year-to-date or to prior years. It’s easiest when you aren’t starting from scratch. Review any numbers from previous years, even if they aren’t entirely accurate for your operation today. At least they are a place to start!
    3. Try to plan for incidentals, but be realistic. It’s best to be conservative when putting together a budget. Budget for your income to be slightly lower than expected and expenses to be slightly higher. If you do better than your budget at the end of the year, congratulations!
    4. If there is a deficit in your budget, consider your options. When your budget is showing you a projected loss, determine how you might be able to balance your budget by cutting out extra expenses or considering additional sources of income. Sometimes, you need to determine the “needs” are versus the “wants” are.
    5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek outside professionals to provide suggestions and guidance. Your AgChoice loan officer or accountant is willing to help. Just ask!
    6. Use your numbers! After you create a budget, use your numbers to track your progress. Compare your numbers to prior quarters and/or years. If you notice that you are off-course, consider if there are changes you need to make to help get back on-course.
    7. Remember that budgets aren’t set in stone. It is normal to have to tweak your budget from time-to-time. Budgeting is simply a roadmap to help guide your financial progress.

    There is no better time to start budgeting than now. Get started today!

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