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Get Your Financial House in Order – Before You Lose It!

by como ·

How to Get Started

Do you really know how you’re doing
financially? Do you have to check your wallet and your bank account on a
daily (or even hourly basis) to know how much cash you have? Are you
making purchase decisions based on a plan that you know will lead you to
financial freedom – or at least a good night’s sleep? Take heart –
you’re not alone. Ask a few people to honestly tell you if they have
both their business and personal finances in order and at least 80% or
more will say “not really”.

I teach small business owners how to
run their business operations more effectively. The key is to become
more financially savvy. If you have a handle on your finances, the rest
of the business – managing the people, workflow and your time – will
seem like a walk in the park. Everyone has personal finances, so if you
don’t own a small business, then use these ideas for your personal life.
They apply too!

To have a strong, secure and orderly financial house, you must build it this way:

*
The foundation of your house is having a money management tracking
system. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t make wise decisions.
Your system must be simple, easy and effective to follow. It should
create a flow in your life that includes dealing with the paper, paying
bills on time, showing you what reality is and saving time and stress at
tax time. Ahhh, what a relief…after that, build a wall.

* The
first wall of your house is to have a plan for the future. Once you have
your foundation and your system flows smoothly, begin to concentrate on
establishing a budget and forecasting for the future. You will use this
as your blueprint for building a stronger house and let it help you
with your spending and saving decisions.

* The second wall of your
house is to know where you are at so you can make changes if necessary
to your dream home. You must measure not only your financial numbers,
but also your operations – including you!

* No house would be
complete without a roof or everything inside can wash away. The roof of
your financial house is your discipline. It is critical as you build
your foundation and a key factor as you firm up your walls. Once your
house is complete, it is way too easy to let up since you think you’re
done. A strong financial house requires maintenance. You are the manager
and steward of your finances. Staying vigilant, mindful and purposeful
takes discipline. Use this in every phase of your financial building
project to keep your day-to-day flow going smoothly, to review your plan
and push yourself with measurable goals!

So…how does one get started? You MUST start with
your foundation. Every business, no matter how small, must have an
“accounting” department. Yep, even us solopreneuers! The IRS says we
must have a good recordkeeping system in place, so be ready in case
you’re ever audited. (This is NO different for our personal finances
either.) Here are three things you can do to shore up your foundation.

*
Get a paper management “system” in place that provides a stress-free
flow. Corral your financial stuff in one place and create a bill payment
area for you to work. Include a simple filing system for all your
receipts, accounts statements, customer invoices and reports. Have some
retention guidelines to help you decide what to keep and what to toss.

*
Use some sort of computer tool. QuickBooks for a small business or
Quicken for home. Heck, even use a spreadsheet like Excel if you need to
start somewhere.

* Determine a regular schedule of when you will
handle your financial matters. Create a checklist to help remind you
what to do on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and year-end basis.

Just
get started! Sharpen your discipline now and agree to stick with it for
six months. I promise you’ll see results in just a few months if you
are honest with yourself and make some changes. If you fall off the
cart, get back on! This is the one area in which you are in control.

(c)
2008 Debbie Gilster. If you would like to reprint this article, you may
do so absolutely free. You may use the article as is or make minor
changes so long as the byline is reprinted intact and all links are made
live. A courtesy notice of reprint or excerpt is appreciated.

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