It was a huge wake-up call for me when one day I was faced with needing to buy a new set of tires I desperately needed for my car, and no money in the bank or available credit to buy them. The realization set in that my habit of living from paycheck to paycheck was not workable.
The story of, “When I make more money, I’ll have more money,” was a lie. Because every time I got raises and my salary went up, I still never seemed to have any extra money for unexpected expenses.
Being in my mid-20’s at the time, and starting to look at not just surviving, but actually wanting to buy a house someday, I knew something had to change.
It was while channel surfing one Saturday morning that I stumbled upon the Suze Orman Show and her voice blared at me “your problem with not having enough money isn’t really about not making enough money, it has to do with the fact that you’re not being intentional with how you spend your money.” I immediately stopped changing the channel and started to pay close attention.
That wake-up call and her books and courses completely transformed my relationship with money and began to show me the principles of how to always make a great profit and have money in the bank when I want and need it.
In an effort to start being more intentional about my money, I started paying attention to where I was spending it – both the obvious places like rent and utilities and the not so obvious ones like dinners out and overpriced coffee. In the process, I gained clarity about the choices I was making with my money.
Once I figured out where I was spending my money, the next question was, “How do I be more intentional about how I want to spend my money?”
I literally took out a calendar and jotted down when I was going to be paid every 2 weeks, and all of my expenses – rent, phone, utilities, etc. – that I was going to have to pay for. It was the most basic of budgets.
Then I started putting money in a savings account every 2 weeks to save for a house. It became part of the intentional process of how I spent money.
I tell you this story because a lot of times when I’m talking to clients about budgeting, they say a budget feels restrictive. Or it feels controlling. But the exact opposite happened to me.
When I started planning and budgeting, I felt more powerful about my money.
Within 3 years, my husband and I had saved enough to put a down payment on a condo. In fact, we still own that condo today as a rental property. That condo is proof that when we’re intentional about our money, it gives us so much more control over our destiny.
When I started my business, I incorporated the same practices of budgeting into my work with my clients. We talk about… What are your goals? How can we plan for them? How can we plan for profits?
A budget is not only numbers on a piece of paper that you don’t look at. A budget is a living document that you have a relationship with. You look at it regularly. You use it to manage. By tracking it, you’re able to see where your money is going.
In today’s video, I share a couple of different tools you can use to do that:
The first is a Budget Goals Sheet, which I will share with you at the end of this post. Right now is a good time to start to think about your goals for next year. What’s your financial plan? What’s going to impact that plan? This tool will help you figure out all of that by asking a series of questions.
- What are your revenue goals for the next year?
- What gross profit margin do you want to make? As we’ve talked about before, this is a super important number that you want to be tracking. Contractors live and die by gross profit margin. So it’s important that you set a goal for it and manage against that goal.
- How about the net profit margin? For companies up to $25 million per year, net profit should be about 10-12%. Larger businesses might have a lower net profit margin.
- How much will you have this year in cash reserves? The industry standard is to have 3-6 months of overhead expenses in cash reserves.
- What are you personally going to make in earnings? If your business is a corporation, your salary should be included in general and administrative (G&A) expenses. If you’re a sole proprietor, your net profit goal will be much higher than 10-12% because that’s also your salary.
- What else do you need to factor in? Other questions to think about as you plan for profit:
- How many people will earn raises this year?
- Are there other organizational changes that will take place?
- What about equipment needs?
This is how you plan for profitability. By setting goals, you’re getting intentional about making money. This process forces you to be more purposeful about how you’re going to spend money when it comes to your expenses.
As you look to next year and think, “How do I plan for more profits?” make an operating budget for your company and be more purposeful about how and where you’re spending money. Then, every month look at your actual results compared to your budget and make course corrections to keep you on track.
The other resource I share in the video is a Budget Goals Sheet. (See the PS in this blog to access this resource)
The bottom line is… Be intentional about your money. That’s how you plan for profits. And that’s how you become powerful over your money.
In my book, The Profit Bleed, you can find money management tools and free downloadable resources that bring clarity to budgeting and profitability– and all you have to pay is shipping and handling. Make sure to check out the bundle of pre-packaged resources when you check out.
Before I go, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and let me know what works for you when it comes to managing money. Are there any sticking spots you need help with?
P.S. Grab my free resource, the Budget Goals Sheet. This easy-to-use spreadsheet will help you start thinking about your goals for next year so you can plan for profits and get more intentional about how you spend your money.
Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently. Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.