Are you an individual or a business owner looking to stay on top of your finances? One of the most important steps to doing this is to have a detailed and structured plan to help monitor your spending each month. It’s important to plan out your budget and overall cash flow. Cash flow planning can mean different things whether it’s for you personally or for your business. For example, for an individual or family, it can mean sticking to your budget so you’re able to save money for a future purchase or your retirement. For business owners, it’s about balancing expenses and earnings.
Individuals and families should create a cash flow plan to look at their recurring expenses and future expected expenditures so they can best support their needs. Most individuals who don’t have a plan often have trouble with debt management. Having a plan allows you to look into the future at what your finances will likely look like by determining how much you are spending and allowing you to see what you’re able to set aside for retirement savings or an emergency fund.
Many businesses will have a cash flow plan as they need to regularly look at their operating expenses and measure this against what the business is earning. If businesses don’t have a cash flow plan and are operating blindly, it can be a matter of time before it goes out of business or it could lead you into a situation where you require loans to support your business. The main point here is that you should consciously know what you are spending: break it down into categories; visually see it. Most businesses can do this by simply looking at their accounts receivable and accounts payable to get a better idea of how much their business plans to spend and what it is expecting for earnings.
Cash flow planning and budgeting often go hand in hand. Whether you’re a business or an individual or family, looking into how your cash flow is going to match your spending needs is directly correlated with whether you have an effective budget. Whereas a cash flow plan focuses on long-term finances, your budget is more microscopic and allows you to look into the near future on what your expenditures might look like.
Thinking about saving money is harder than actually doing it. If you’ve got a savings plan to help you focus, you’re well on your way. However, if you’re still asking yourself where it’s going to come from, here are three methods to help you save:
- Remember the golden rule: pay yourself first. Get in the habit of setting aside some money from your paycheque. This amount can range anywhere between 10%-20% of your paycheque. It’s easier if you think of it as something you have to do, like setting aside money for your mortgage or rent.
- Curb your impulses. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. Focus on your goals and what you need vs. what you want. Be aware of when you’re vulnerable. Ignore or limit the impulse to buy things to treat yourself when life is stressful.
- Focus on the expenses that you can control. Unlike your mortgage or rent, you have control over variable expenses like lunches, coffee, clothing, music, entertainment, and many others. This is the first place to look when you want to save money. Keep track of what you spend in a month to see where your money is going.
Saving money is possible, and reaching your goals is easier if you start by making a plan. Having a plan in place will help you get your goals straight and keep you focused on what’s important. Cash flow plans for businesses and individuals are an important step in ensuring financial stability and longevity, and sticking to your budget will help you, your family and/or your business stay on top of your finances over both the short and long term.
Taylor Szeto, B.Comm.
Insurance Representative, Wiegers Financial and Insurance Planning Services Ltd.
Account Representative, Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc.
Mutual funds are offered through Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. Insurance products and services are offered through Wiegers Financial & Insurance Planning Services Ltd. Banking products and services are offered by referral arrangements through our related company Manulife Bank of Canada.