You might not think so, but budgeting is one of the most creative things that you can do. Closing your eyes and making a wish is the way we humans dream. Having a thought, making a plan and working the plan, makes our dreams or thoughts come true! Budgeting is putting that thought on paper and if you are sticking to that plan, your dreams will come true.
I want to give some tips from my personal experience and years being part of many companies and their budgets.
There is still today a lot of businesses and people that don’t understand the reason why they have to have a budget. I think it is because the definition for a budget, ”an estimate of income and expenditure for a specific period”, sounds so vague and uncertain.
But implementing a budget can change your whole cash flow issue and can be very rewarding, IF you are doing it correct and IF you are disciplined to stay focused on what you have decided.
Estimate your income
The first section of your budget is the income estimate.
Surely you must have something to work on, you can’t decide that I am going to do a budget with an income of R500 000.00 per month and you trust it will be there, no, you need to have previous sales history and projections to back a budget like that.
Whether you are working with actual stock or giving a service it is very important to make sure that what you using as a figure for your budget you can also verify.
A car salesman can’t have a budget of R500 000.00 income, if he has only stock of 20 vehicles and he knows his profit per sales is +/- R20 000.00 which will only give him a R400 000.00 income, IF he sells all of the vehicles.
A service person that is working per hour, can’t use an income of R200 000.00 and his rate per hours is R250.00 p hour. Even if he works 30 days in the month for 24hours a day he is not going to get to R200 000.00 income for the month. Your budget must have a reason why you say you will be able to get that income.
For example, you work 10 hours a day at a rate of R250.00 p/hour and you know that with all the work you have, you will only be able to rest for 4 days in this month.
- Days worked 26 days
- Hours worked 260 hours
- Total income for hours R65 000.00.
Your budget can’t be more than R65 0000.00 for the month except if you are going to get in another person to help and you can add more hours.
Rather make your income a little bit less, than committing yourself to expenses that is not going to happen at all. Then you tell your bookkeeper “I told you a budget won’t work”
If your budget income is projected on actuals like stock, hours, capacity, and history of sales and not a thumb suck or wish list, I can assure you, the budget will work.
Plan your expenses
The second part of your budget is your expenses and I am sure I don’t need to tell you that if you have in your budget an income of R200 000.00 you can’t have expenses of R300 000.00!
There are different expenses on our budgets.
Items like telephone bills, internet service, rent, salaries and wages, fuel, printing and stationery, insurance and this can differ from person to person.
These expenses are usually easy to budget for, because we have history and actual figures on which we can work our budgets. Keep in mind situations where those expenses might increase for example, now we use more data for Zoom calls than Fuel for driving due to Covid 19. Just take some time and think through your planning for the month and you will be able to see where there might be changes.
Yearly expenses are expenses like your Licences on vehicles and also programs that we are using.
Instead of going into a panic because you have to have R10 000.00 one month for an accounting license renewal, budget it over 12 months and putting aside R833.33 per month and you don’t need to worry one month!
Now I have touched a very important part of budgeting, and that is the saving part and discipline part. If you budget for a big expense or taxes or even a yearly fee, you need to keep that money in your bank every month as per budget. The budget won’t help you, if you have that amount of money budgeted every month, but you are using all the money every month because it is available in your bank and when you need to pay your yearly bill…. the budget did not work.
Budget and saving work hand to hand. If you are lucky to be in government you budget and they give you that amount of money that you budgeted for, for that month, but if you are in the private sector, you have to make sure that, the money you have budgeted for a certain expense on a certain time, will be available.
I find the best way to make sure you keep to your budget is open a separate savings or money market account. Do transfers for the amounts that you know, is not this month’s expense, to that separate account, you can also earn some interest on that amount, if you choose the right account and then you know the money is not lying in the current account that you use for daily expenses.
Your wish list
The last part of your budget is your wish list. I always keep a wish list apart from my budget to make sure that when good times are here and I made more profit than expected, that I spend it on the wish list items. These are items that you know you need to better your work or service but there is no money available now. For example, I have a printer, but would like to have one of those big printers that can scan and email lots of pages with a touch of a button.
Instead of wasting money on unnecessary stuff, keep to your wish list, and then you will eventually have everything you wished for.
As Abraham Lincoln said – “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”
A few years ago, Virtual Assistants were unheard of. Even two years ago when I started as a VA, I was asked “You are a what?”
Fast forward to 2020 and Virtual Assistants are taking on the world. The world is faced with a pandemic and now even companies who would never have considered a VA, are looking at their new world with new eyes and new ways of spending their resources. Time and money being the most prevalent. It has been shown that people can work from home and still get their work done, giving more faith in this system by producing the same results.
Smaller companies who do not have the desire nor the capital to rent office space can hire an Executive VA to assist with numerous tasks. This helps reduce overhead and HR costs as time bundles can be agreed on without having to deal with the stresses of employing permanent employees and adding to their head counts. It will be very interesting to see how many companies evolve into virtual offices in this new world of ours. I for one would also like to know the positive environmental impact this could have.
The list of tasks an Executive VA is able to assist with is tailored specifically to each client. Below we look at 5 of the most common areas of assistance we are asked for.
5 Ways A Virtual Assistant Is Essential To A Virtual Office
Let’s be honest, if you’re running your own business and putting all your time and energy into making it a success, mundane administrative tasks don’t sound very attractive and although time consuming, they are imperative to running a successful business.
Depending on the type of company, these tasks can include:
Managing your diary as well as for other team members. Scheduling, rescheduling or cancelling meetings can at times be challenging. Having an Executive VA do this for you takes the pressure off the organizer and makes meetings take place with no issues.
Preparing agenda’s, information packs and compiling attractive presentations also requires you to spend a considerable amount of time to do these right! An Executive VA who has these skills can produce high quality work on your behalf. They can also help by taking and distributing minutes allowing you to get back to work.
Shopping around for a good deal on flights and accommodation takes time and patience. There are so many websites available these days and one has to find and compare prices to make sure you are not over paying for something and that you are travelling within your means.
An Executive VA is able to do all the research for you, they can make flight and accommodation bookings on your behalf and arrange any transfers or other travel requirements you may have. They can also ensure that deposits, if required, are paid in time and apply for visas if necessary. An added bonus is that you don’t have to rush or be disrupted in your day to check in online, this can also be done for you.
An Executive VA could be the company’s point of contact and working within the agreed parameters and proxies allows the VA to make executive decisions so that owners and team members can do what they do best, run their business. The VA can focus on building client and stakeholder relationships for the company while always being available to your customers.
One of the most important fundamentals in any business, however, still one of the most mundane parts of the job for any boss.
Following up on payments, making online payments, logging urgent calls are all small tasks but can take up valuable time. An Executive VA is able to assist with these tasks as well as other perhaps more valuable tasks such as compiling databases and reports, doing market related research, reconciliations and generally be the go-to person to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and ensuring clear communication between all of them at all times.
The list literally can go on and on… and the benefits to you and your company can too!
I have stopped listening to the news and reading stories on the spread of the virus, infected numbers, businesses closing, staff being retrenched, and what is allowed at each level. Some would say this is naïve, but to be honest my heart just cannot take it. As humans we are built to want to help those that we can. We tip the car guards and petrol attendants, we give the waiters/waitress 15-20% and not only 10%. We buy extra food for the security guards of complexes and will always try and give what we can to the less fortunate, but during these times it is difficult to give when you do not have much yourself.
So, I have decided to rather focus on the opportunities during this time. Spending time we wouldn’t normally get with our children and partners. Getting to things around the house you have said you will do for years. Sitting down to finish that baby book. Finally organizing your workday, schedule and tasks. Finishing tasks you have not found the time for. And most importantly being able to switch off.
Enjoy your home
Just as we are built to want to help others, we as South Africans are built to work. It is inbred in us, every day revolves around what time to wake up to miss the traffic, how much can we get done in the prescribed office hours, what dinner will take the quickest to cook, then it is cleaning, laundry and prep for the next day to start it all over again, never mind the additional hours put in, in the evenings on emails and tasks that you just never got to during the day.
This driving work force, it still lives on, but within the four walls of every home, it looks a little different. There is the extra hour or two of sleep as traffic is no longer a problem-child, there is no hours lost sitting in traffic, struggling to get to the office to attend to emails and meetings. This time is spent cooking breakfast and enjoying one extra meal a day together as a family, some days it is attending to emails in your pajamas, exercising at lunch time and vacuuming at 16:00 before cooking dinner. The weight on my shoulders seems a little lighter.
Smell the roses
Not everyone has little people running around ruling their homes but, in our house, this is exactly what we have. Our little one is an early-riser, so our mornings start before the sun has risen and is fast-paced. Running and jumping and swimming and reading and snacking and eating and falling and climbing. I get tired just writing this, but these are moments that we normally miss, that we are not around to enjoy. Although it is crazy and some days, I feel the years I am losing off my life span, I wouldn’t trade it for getting back to the real world. I am starting to worry about how I am going to go back to the normal.
Do it now!
Before isolation it was a case of ‘why do today what can be done tomorrow’ so in essence it was never gotten to. The glass cabinet I’ve been meaning to reorganize has been done, the baby book I never got around to finishing, is almost complete, the meals I always wanted to cook – are finally being cooked, the painting project I wanted to start has started, and the book I wanted to read, has been read. The tables have all turned. The emails I can do tomorrow, the document can be reviewed tomorrow, the project can start tomorrow. And off course none of these missing a deadline but rather being done when you can within the required timeframe. The chicken seems to be running around with all its body parts for a change.
Everyone is worried and scared, industries are facing turmoil, turnover is at an all-time low, and every single person is doing what they can to not only survive but keep sane. During the time it is difficult to stay positive and to looks for the good in each day but all it takes is one thing a day. One task that makes you happy, makes you feel lighter. One extra hour spent with your little people doing something that makes them smile and laugh. Take 20min to have that cup of coffee outside with no cellphone or laptop. Finally finish the sorting of all your emails or finishing that one task that has been lagging at your side.
Everyday do something for you, something that makes you smile, makes you feel lighter.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Dr Wayne Dyer
Wise words from a great man and of extreme relevance in this current situation in which we find ourselves. An unsettling time of unchartered territory where we feel that we are standing in the corridor, waiting for a door to open, revealing the new way of life into which we will emerge.
COVID 19 has affected every one of our daily lives in many ways, and none have remained untouched. Our lives are no longer the same and this brings about opportunities for self-introspection and evolvement. We need to start looking at things differently, with fresh eyes, from a new angle, in other words, gain a new perspective. It can make the acceptance of our new way of life an easy transition.
What is perspective?
Perspective is the way we see life through our filters. A skill that we use to navigate our path, adding to our ever-growing subconscious library of reference. As humans, we have feelings and emotions associated with our experiences according to our make-up. Our view of one situation may be completely different from another person, yet both entirely correct as seen from their perspective.
Where to begin?
As with anything we wish to change, the first steps are recognition, acceptance and willingness to change. So, take a step back. Try to look at the situation objectively, as if you were a by-stander and do not allow your emotions to take over. If we observe from the outside, we can start to see it with fresh eyes, expand our thinking and bring in some new possibilities we may be willing to try. Decide on what you want to change and give it a go.
Some tools you can use
Sound too easy? I agree that sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees when you are in the situation, and at times there doesn’t seem to be a solution at hand besides the only one you can see. Take some time to sit with yourself in reflection and try one or two of the following methods.
- Questioning – Ask a couple of people for their perspectives or solutions and ponder over them, trying to see things from a different angle.
- Meditation – find a quiet place or time and go into deep thought around the subject. Note afterwards any changes you may have discovered.
- Journaling – write about your thoughts and whatever ideas come into your head as you are doing this. Reflect on your writing afterwards and see if there is another viewpoint you can adopt.
- Mind-mapping – either on paper or there are many mind-map apps out there you can explore and use to jot down your thoughts and see how they can expand, open and change.
- Do things differently – even if it just starts with the way you approach your chores, your regular routes or your exercise routine. Changing things around physically can help you to shift thought patterns.
You have the power
You have the inner power to change how you view things around you, of forming new patterns and looking at life. It is not about changing who you are, but rather about your expansion and growth, so go ahead and treat yourself to a broadened perspective.
The ever-looming word Lockdown has become a daily subject in every household across the world. Many countries have different rules and regulations; however, the end goal is ultimately the same.
Lockdown has forced humanity to change and develop new habits and ways of life. It is said, that on average a new habit takes approximately 21 days to form and integrate into our daily lives. Lockdown for most of us, has resulted in us being confined to our living quarters and has made us readjust our daily routines. Those in essential services are still braving the outside world and the rest of us are staying home and learning to navigate this current lifestyle.
Maintaining an optimum level of wellness
We have now seen that we don’t have to physically drive to the gym or sign up for a gym membership to actively exercise. Now we have no reason for excuses. There are many South Africans participating in the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge, running a total of 42 kilometers in 21 days in their gardens. Friends and family are having virtual exercise sessions together and many are learning new exercise regimes like Yoga.
The bottom line is it should not have taken a worldwide pandemic for some to add exercise to their daily routines. Exercise is vital in achieving an optimum level of wellness. All of a sudden, we find ourselves taken notice of what we eat and consuming copious amounts of vitamins. Eating healthy and making up for nutrients we are lacking in our daily diet is necessary, embrace this new healthy lifestyle and make it your new way of life. Skip the crash diets we all only start because there is a special occasion around the corner. A healthy body results in a healthy mind, so yes add achieving an optimum wellness to your list of new habits to keep.
Regular communication with loved ones
We should all ask ourselves why has it taken a pandemic to force so many of us to regularly interact with family and friends? The answer may be one regulation of Lockdown: Social Distancing.
Why is human interaction so important? It is important for our mental health. Social contact helps humans to cope with stress and major life changes. Yes, life gets busy, loved ones move abroad and there isn’t enough time in a day to do all things we want to achieve. Family and friends are our support structure throughout life, and we should ultimately interact and ‘check in’ on one another on a regular basis, regardless if life is looking up or down.
Nowadays, technology offers us so many exciting options to have virtual group interactive sessions like Zoom, Houseparty or WhatsApp. Recent social media trends have shown many of us uploading screenshots of group chats and participants are shown to be sporting big smiles. Make a pact with your family and friends to maintain regular communication after Lockdown, this will strengthen your support structure. Yes, this is added to the list of new habits to keep.
Increased cleaning and sanitization standards
Yes, of course we all washed our hands and cleaned our houses before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has once again forced us to increase the extent of any task. I’m sure most of us feel our sanity is slightly questionable, when we are singing Happy Birthday to ourselves in the bathroom mirror for 20 seconds, each time we wash our hands.
The fact of the matter is that our hygiene standards have obviously changed, we shower and launder our clothes excessively. We find ourselves sanitizing doorknobs and light switches on a daily basis and stock piling anti-bacterial detergents each time we see it on the shelf in the Supermarket (admit it, we are all doing it). Is heightened cleaning and sanitization standards an item we should add to the list of new habits we are going to keep? Add it to the list and adapt it to fit your new way of life after Lockdown. Create a weekly cleaning schedule, helping you to keep your home beaming with pride and destroying the pile of laundry you have been dreading all week. A cleaning routine will assist in achieving a peaceful home.
Be more sustainable
Lockdown trends have shown so many of us planting our own fruit and vegetables. Being stainable is the future, it is showing our planet how much we care. So, the answer is – absolutely yes, add being more sustainable to our list of new habits we are going to keep. Develop a recycling routine that works for you and your household inhabitants, recycle your fruit and vegetable peels, you can repurpose them as compost. Purchase the extra garbage bins and implement separating and recycling your garbage. Mother nature will thank you!
The art of Self-love
What does self-love mean? Self-love is taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Not settling for less than you deserve. Loving yourself does not mean you think you are the smartest or most beautiful person in the world. Self-love is defined as “love of self” or “regard for one’s own happiness”. Many of us now find we have the extra time on hands to do things we don’t normally have the time or energy for. Many of us are searching for hobbies and skills we can develop to keep us busy or better yet sane. Going forward let us make the time to love ourselves, we only get one life. Yes, we are adding this to our list of new habits to keep. Start out small and progress, schedule that weekly pamper session and wipe the dust off your Grandmother’s sewing machines you have always wanted to learn how to use. Take advantage of this opportunity and make the time to love yourself and develop your portfolio of skills.
Why should we continue these new habits even after Lockdown is over and this pandemic has ended? We only have one life and we should give it everything we have! Make the time, make the effort, life is short. Appreciate the small things in life, like freedom, you never know when it might be taken away, even if it is just temporarily. Adapt your new habits to life after Lockdown and be the person you have always strived to be, but never had the time to become, your time is now!