Filling An Education Gap

Over the years, a drive for better scores on standardized tests have driven schools to cut out untested subjects.  There’s only so much time in the classroom, and teachers are judged on how their students do, so they focus on the tests.

This includes an essential life skill: budgeting.

Every student was taught to balance a checkbook and manage their budget back when home economics was a required course.  However, few students today understand these simple financial tasks.  If any do, they learned from their parents or by teaching themselves, not in school.  We’re sure that most Dallas Janitorial Services clients understand budgeting and basic finance.  After all, every business essentially does the same thing when tracking revenue and operating expenses like hiring a cleaning crew.  This is for those few that don’t understand (or for you to share with friends who struggle with the concept).

Basic Budget Principles

Any accountant can tell you that a budget boils down to two major categories: money in, and money out.  When building a budget, you need to account for all expenses and income, ideally before bills arrive.  Some of these expenses will be the same every month (like rent or the cost of a regular cleaning crew), while others may vary and surprise you (utilities, food costs, etc.).  In the case of variable costs, always budget more for each cost than you expect.

Most budgets simply consist of adding up expenses and figuring out how much of your income is left.  However, non-salary workers such as freelancers or worker paid on an hourly basis will need to include a separate section to track their income.

Ideally, you’ll end up with an excess in your budget, and can put most of it into savings.  After all, you can only save up so much just pennies at a time.  Sometimes, you’ll end up over budget.  If that happens, consider making cuts to your expenses.  This may involve adding a roommate, reducing your mobile data (and everywhere has Wifi anyway), or reducing/eliminating cable TV (most streaming services are cheaper and just as entertaining).

Now the question becomes, how do you track your budget?

Microsoft Excel

I grew up playing fantasy football in the days before live scoring.  In my day, we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to buy a newspaper and add up our scores the next day.  How is this relevant?

My dad taught me the basics of Excel so it would be easier to total our scores.

The program was literally designed to manage money.  Simply enter a formula in a square and it will automatically do the math every time those numbers change.  They can be as simple as “= square + square”, or more advanced commands like SUM(square:square), but all options will make budgeting simpler.  There’s plenty of tutorials available online, as well.

If you can’t afford Microsoft Office, look up Open Office.  It’s a free to use open source program that offers all the same features as MS Office, including Word, Excel, and Power Point.

Budgeting Apps

You don’t have to learn Excel.  As with everything, there are now apps for budgets.

I choose to use Excel anyway, as it leaves more room for customization than most apps will, but some are incredibly in depth and can be linked to your bank accounts for semi-automatic budgeting.  Most apps will securely store your data, but there’s still inherent risk in linking sensitive financial information such as bank accounts to your phone.

 

In the worst case, you can always swipe a pen and a few napkins and do a basic budget that way.  What’s important is that, however your budget works, you know how much money you have and where it’s headed.  Your budget doesn’t even need to make sense, just as long as you understand it.  It’s the best way to keep yourself ahead

-Ryan Derenbecker