Budgeting against your goals throughout the year

This post was in partnership with Wells Fargo. Originally posted on Wells Fargo Works.

One of the more challenging aspects of running a company is determining how to best allocate the company’s revenue according to a budget. Oftentimes, a company will begin the year with one idea and, midway through, realize that they want to take a different direction. This can lead to uncertainty about how to best manage cash flow and how to adjust projections. 

The key with business budgeting is to always remember that a budget is a fluid document. It’s merely a guide for you to use to determine your next best move, and it is OK to adjust it throughout the year. 

Estimate your annual budget

When you’re creating your annual budget projection, you may want to consider applying the 60/20/20 rule. Generally speaking: 

  • 60% of revenue should be used for fixed expenses. This includes salaries, overhead expenses, reserves for tax payments, and the company’s profit goals. 

  • The first 20% should be dedicated to growth. This may include investing in marketing, advertising, and other initiatives to expand the company’s brand and reach. 

  • The second 20% should be designated for internal development. This could include R&D for products-based businesses or training for staff members to improve their skill sets and leadership abilities. 

Create quarterly budget goals

Every 90 days or so, you should aim to check in on your annual budget projection. To help with this, you also need to create four separate quarterly budgets. When planning your quarterly budget, work with your team to decide on the number one objective for each quarter. It could fall under one of three categories:

  • Growth: Pushing your business into a growth phase 

  • Stability: Remaining stable and consistent 

  • Research and Development (R&D): Increasing your service level with an advanced technology investment or internal team training 

RELATED: Need help setting financial goals for your business? Expert Ellen Rohr is here to help.

Adjust based on your needs

Keep in mind that the 60/20/20 rule is a guide. Depending on your quarterly objective, you may need to tweak these percentages. For instance, if you are developing a new product to bring to market, you will likely need to increase the percentage dedicated to internal development, and decrease your funds allocated to growth. 

Once that product has been created and is ready to go to market, you may reduce the amount devoted to R&D from perhaps 30% or 35% back down to 15% or 10% and re-allocate the remaining funds to growth. At this point, you might consider increasing the percentage of revenue dedicated to growth to 30% or 35% in order to pay an outside branding consultancy to help you package and position the product, work with a marketing agency to help you spread the word, and later work with an advertising agency to help you increase sales. 

If you are a service-based business, you may decide to focus on developing your staff at a specific point in the year, which will increase the amount of money that the company is using for internal development. 

The key to business budget planning is flexibility when it comes to your objectives and quarterly budgets. This will help drive your budgeting decisions and keep your business on track. 

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The secret to paying off your debt faster

If you are like the majority of Americans, you have a mound of debt that you are eager to pay off. In fact, the New York Federal Reserve released a report that the total household debt for Americans reached $12.73 trillion in 2017, surpassing the 2008 peak. Yikes!

From student and auto loans to credit cards, the increasing level of debt is a source of anxiety for many. According to the Prosper Marketplace Financial Wellness Survey, 44% of Americans rank debt relief as a top priority for improving their financial standing. Companies like Prosper can help you get your finances back on track by consolidating your debt, so that you can sleep better at night.

Paying off your debt is one of the first steps to achieving financial wellness. And while we all know to spend less than what we earn in order to pay off our debt, it may often feel as if this is easier said than done. As a financial coach, I have worked with hundreds of individuals and have helped them pay off nearly a half million dollars in debt.

One of my clients had over $70,000 in debt that she had been accumulating over the past fifteen years. Within one year of working with each other, she was able to pay it all off. We did this by slightly increasing her earnings and, more importantly, we worked on shifting her mindset. Because when it comes to finances, there is a little known fact that most financial advisors may not have shared with you. In order to experience a shift in your financial situation, you must have a mindset shift, first.

No matter where you are on your financial journey, it is important to remember that having a positive mindset is the key to getting to your next stage of financial wellness. And who better to know the connection of a positive mindset and financial wellness, than Oprah Winfrey.

“The great discovery of all time,” Winfrey once said on her TV show, “is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

 

And sometimes, as Winfrey says, it’s our own mindset that’s blocking the path forward.

When we have debt that continues to haunt us, we become frustrated and often spiral into negative thinking. You may say phrases such as “I am bad with money” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “being broke is just the way my life is”. These thoughts turn into beliefs that are sabotaging your ability to pay off debt.

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Imagine that you were talking to a young child and trying to teach her how to do long division. The first few times, she may get the answer wrong or take a long time to figure out how to do the problem. Would you yell at her to hurry up? Or tell that she is stupid for not getting the problem right? Of course not! You would gently show her a few mathematical short cuts. And encourage her by saying that she is smart and good at math. Why? Because no one is motivated by shaming or negative talk.

The same holds true for you. In order to pay off your debt, you have to encourage yourself throughout the process. You are not doing yourself any favors by beating yourself up and having negative thoughts. The key is to remain positive and become your own biggest cheerleader.

As you work on paying off your debt, here are five steps you can take to improve your money mindset.

Step #1: Write down all of the money mistakes you have made on a sheet of paper.

Step #2: Grab another sheet of paper and write "I forgive myself for ..." followed by each mistake.

Step #3: Go to a mirror and read the second sheet of paper out loud to yourself. Look yourself in the eye as you say, "I forgive myself for..."

Step #4: And then, tear each sheet of paper into a million pieces. Because the past is over. And now it is time to move on...to a much brighter future.

Step #5: Repeat these steps daily until you pay off your debt.

Now we'd love to hear from you! Is paying off debt one of your financial goals? If so, why is this important to you? Leave us a comment below.

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This post was sponsored by Prosper.

Women and Money: Tips for talking about money with your girlfriends

Imagine grabbing brunch with your girls. Giggling over mimosas, catching up on the love life situation (or lack thereof...sigh), getting the scoop on the latest shopping deals and...whether you should pull your money out of your 401k plan to invest elsewhere.

Ummm, what?

Although money may not seem like a topic you wish to broach on a day out with the girls, the fact is that women are not paying enough attention to their financial health. “Along with wage inequality, women retire with just two-thirds the money men have, all while living at least 5 years longer than men,” states Sallie Krawcheck, a Wall Street powerhouse and the founder of ElleVest, in an interview with CNBC.

On average, less than 30% of people feel confident in their ability to absorb a financial shock according to the Prosper Financial Wellness Survey. Furthermore, Fidelity’s Money FIT Women Study shares that while 75% of women wish to learn more about finances, only 47% felt confident to bring up money topics on their own.

The only way to become confident about money is to practice talking about it.

Similar to any area of your life, practice makes progress. Think about the first time you gave a presentation or tried a new workout routine. It may have felt nerve-wracking or uncomfortable, but you got through it. After you got through the first time, each experience afterwards was much easier. The same goes with talking about money. The first few times you do it, it may feel uncomfortable. But, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Especially if you practice  with other women who will support you through it.

Photo credit: Josh Isaacs Photography

And talking about money does not have to be boring. In fact, if women begin to associate finances with pleasurable activities- such as brunch or a girl’s night out- the fear around money will start to dissipate. Because obviously, any discussion over a mimosa is a fun discussion.

So, go ahead and send out a text to three or five of your girlfriends, and invite them over to your home to grab some mimosas and follow these steps for your monthly money conversations.

Month One- for the first get together, the intention is to have a conversation about how everyone approaches their finances and their vision of a dream lifestyle.

You can even turn it into a vision board party where everyone cuts images out of old magazines that showcase their dream life.

While you all are sipping on mimosas and playing arts and crafts, allow everyone to answer the following questions:

  1. Question One: Do you create a budget for yourself? Or just wing it?
  2. Question Two: What’s your big vision for yourself? How will money help you achieve it?

Month Two- the next gathering should be about about debt.

  1. Question One: How are you protecting yourself against identity theft? Have you checked out your credit report recently?
  2. Question Two: Do you give your kids an allowance? How do you teach them about money?
  3. Question Three: How much credit card and student loan debt do you have?

Month Three- as you all become more comfortable chatting about money, expand the conversation to include more specific questions about finances.

  1. Question One: What does retirement mean to you? How are you preparing for it?
  2. Question Two: Do you work with a financial advisor? How often do you meet with her? What do you talk about?
  3. Question Three: What are your investments? Which industries do you focus on? What have your returns been?
  4. Question Four: What is your monthly income?
  5. Question Five: What are your monthly expenses and what do they each total?
  6. Question Six: How do you and your life partner split expenses?
  7. Question Seven: What’s something new that you learned about money recently?
  8. Question Eight: Is there anything that is currently stressing you about money?

Continue to have these discussions on a monthly basis and watch your confidence around money soar.

And now we'd love to hear from you! How often do you and your girlfriends get together to chat about money? And what do you talk about? Let us know in the comments below.

Money & Mimosas provides financial education trainings and community support to women entrepreneurs. Click here to join our newsletter.

This post was in partnership with Prosper.

3 steps to improve your emotional relationship with money

This past week, I had the honor of leading my "Wealth and Wellness for the Independent Woman" workshop at Sensiba San Filippo, one of the fastest growing CPA firms in Silicon Valley.

During these workshops, I share data to support why women's lack of confidence with money is the biggest reason why we have the gender wage gap and financial inequality.

The key to boosting your confidence is to become aware, and improve, your emotional relationship with money. 

After walking through examples of how our family and cultural upbringing impacts our financial decisions, I facilitate a conversation where the group is encouraged to share personal experiences with money.

Photo credit: Elese Moran

Photo credit: Elese Moran

The conversation this past week was particularly passionate and we all left inspired to become more aware of how our emotional relationship with money is impacting our financial health.

Here are three steps you can take to become more aware of your emotional relationship with money:

  1. Write down all the thoughts that come up when you hear the word "money". Take note of any words that have a negative connotation.
  2. Reflect on your earliest experiences with money. Was it hearing your parents argue about money? Was it your parents telling you "we can't afford this"? Or was it your parents being very hush about it and not talking about it with you? Take a moment to think about how this experience impacts your current approach to money.
  3. Who is your model for money? Usually this is a parent or guardian. Think about their habits with money and how you are repeating some of those habits.

Similar to any area of your life that you hope to improve, the more awareness you have around why you have your current habits the easier it will be to change them. As you gain more clarity about your emotional relationship with money, your habits will begin to improve.

Now we'd love to hear from you! What were some of your earliest experiences with money? Let us know in the comments below.

For more tips on how to remove the emotional baggage you have with money, click here to join our weekly #MoneyandMimosas newsletter.

Three Wealth Building Tools For Women By Women

In today's post, we are spotlighting three amazing fintech companies that will help you manage and grow your wealth.  And they are all founded by women with a mission to change the conversation about money. Woo hoo!

The first company is Startwise. Started by two women founders in the Bay Area, they help small business raise funding by giving their peers the opportunity to invest in them. We love the emphasis on community building. And their newsletters have fantastic tips about how to grow your wealth.

The second company is WorthFM founded by Amanda Steinberg, who you may also know as the CEO of Daily Worth. WorthFM makes investing easy for women and is passionate about educating you through the process. Yay!

The third company is Banqer. Founded by Kendall Flutey, based in New Zealand. I am in love with this program because it's purpose is to help children with financial education. How amazing would it have been if we had all been taught about money at a young age?! Love it.

Take a peek below for Q&A's with each of the founders.


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Startwise

Founders: Grace Leung Shing & Catherine Yushina

1. Why did you decide to launch Startwise?

Both Grace and Catherine worked in a Venture capital firm when they met, they saw so many great companies with revenues and customers looking to grow their existing business. unfortunately, they couldn't get funding since they were not the typical startup that will have a quick exit. We started talking to entrepreneurs and brainstorming about different alternative options. Turned out there were not that many. So bridging the capital gap for small businesses became the mission. Including the people using revenue sharing model became the solution.

2. Who is Startwise geared towards?

We are a double-sided market, we focus on:

- Product businesses with a minimum of 1-2 years in operations and minimum of $200,000 in annual revenues looking to expand and grow their company to the next level.

- The people: US residents of various wealth level and financial experience, looking to generate passive income while aligning the money with their values.

3. What if I don't have a lot of money, can I use Startwise? How much money should I have to invest?

Yes! That is why Startwise is around. People can invest as small as $100 and up to $2200. If you want to invest above the $2200, then the maximum will depend on the income and net worth level, as regulated by the Regulation Crowdfunding rules. 

4. What makes Startwise different from other crowdfunding platforms?

We focus on revenue sharing instead of equity. We work with existing small businesses instead of idea stage startups. It is a great way to diversify the investment portfolio not only by including different type of companies, but also a different mechanism of investing. We've also built our own software that facilitates not only the full investment process but the repayment as well - easy and accessible. 

5. What is your big vision for Startwise? What is the lasting legacy you hope to instill through this platform?

A truly inclusive economy is our vision. Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy, they create jobs and generate income for the majority of the people in the country. Our dream is not only providing the alternative to business funding but also tapping into the wealth gap issue. 

6. What is your #1 piece of advice to a woman who is new to investing?

Be you! Because you are totally rocking it. Multiple data sources show that women business owners and investors have been outperforming men in generating higher returns and success rates for a while now. We take our time to get ready, to research, we use both our brain and our intuition, we are good in listening to the market. Stop doubting yourself because there is no reason you should. 


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WorthFM

Founder: Amanda Steinberg

1. Why did you decide to launch WorthFM?

We began in 2015. We launched in Feb 2017. The federal regulatory process is very complex. 

2. Who is WorthFM geared towards?

Women ages 30-55 with between $25,000 and $500,000 in investments. 

3. What if I don't have a lot of money, can I use WorthFM? How much money should I have?

You can begin with $50. We offer a free savings account that allows you to open an account with us, no matter what. 

4. What makes WorthFM different from other "roboadvisors"? How is it different from working with a financial advisor?

We educate you as you invest so that you become smarter and more confident as your money grows. The others only focus on your portfolio. 

5. What is your big vision for WorthFM? What is the lasting legacy you hope to instill through this platform?

Global financial gender equity. 

6. What is your #1 piece of advice to a woman who is new to investing?

Diversify across multiple asset classes. 


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Kendall Fluety

Co-Founder: Banqer

1. Why did you decide to launch Banqer?

The launch of Banqer came after a series of serendipitous events starting with me leaving my career as an accountant. I retrained in software and shortly after landed my dream job as a developer, but not before returning to my family home for a weekend to recharge. It was there that a simple conversation with my then 12 year old brother sparked the inspiration for Banqer and kick-started the journey. For the first time I realised both the impact in-class financial education could have on a child, and also a child’s capacity to comprehend a vast range of personal finance topics. Within four months Banqer was alive.

2. Who is Banqer geared towards?

Banqer is used by elementary and middle schools and our students range from six to thirteen years old. The platform is specifically designed to be used as an in-class tool (aligning to teaching standards and curricula), however we also get some parents using Banqer at homes as well.

3. What if I don't have a lot of money, can Banqer still benefit me?

Given our users are students under thirteen most don’t have a lot of money and yet Banqer is extremely effective. When it comes to financial education your financial position is merely a starting point and there’s not a threshold you need to reach in order to engage, anyone can. It’s also arguable that those with a lower net wealth will see the most radical proportionate increases in wealth from starting their financial education journey as well.

4. What makes Banqer different from other financial education tools?

The biggest difference between Banqer and traditional financial education tools/resources is the experiential simulation we create that mimics an economy. All financial behaviours are contextualised inside Banqer as students engage financially just like we do in the real world. By creating an environment as closely aligned to what they will experience later in life, the decision making process, consequences felt, and perceived risk are as realistic as possible. This creates an environment that feels real to the students, so it’s not so much considered a lesson but instead practical financial experience.

5. What is your big vision for Banqer? What is the lasting legacy you hope to instill through this platform?

Our mission is to see Banqer enabling students everywhere to be prepared for the financial world that lays ahead of them. Too many of us learn financial lessons by trial and error and often when it’s too late.

Banqer has the potential to improve financial literacy (we see an average increase of 16%), shape positive financial behaviours, and instill confidence in the next generation. The economic externalities of this are huge and that makes us extremely driven to provide Banqer to those who wish to use it.

6. What is your #1 piece of advice to a woman who is new on journey of financial education?

Distinguish the difference between a need and want early. Marketing forces spend billions annually to try and blur the lines between these, often specifically targeting women. Decide what you need in your life, and what is just noise and don’t let yourself be swayed. From there you’ll have a better understanding of what’s important to you and you can frame your financial goals around them.


For more money tips for the independent woman, be sure to click here and join our weekly newsletter. 

Our Top 5 Favorite Bookkeeping Apps for the Independent Woman

Oh, bookkeeping. The bane of every business owner's existence. 

But, we all know that keeping track of our monies is the secret to leading the carefree, glamour-filled lifestyle. As an independent woman, it is imperative that we know how to manage our books. And not end up in a BBHMM situation like Rihanna did with her CPA firm. More about that, here.

Often times, business owners wait until tax season to start thinking about their books. Leaving you in a frenzy trying to figure out where the receipt is for that random $87 charge way back in the month of the May. 

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Do your tax accountant a favor this year and let's burn all of the shoeboxes. Get a jumpstart on organizing your books by using an online program. Not only does this make filing super easy peasy, it also helps you stay on top of your finances throughout the year during your weekly money dates

Here is a list of the top five bookkeeping programs that I love for the independent woman.

  1. Quickbooks Self-Employed - a fantastic tool for freelancers and independent contractors. Best feature: Love that it automatically calculates your quarterly taxes, and allows you to send invoices on the go. Downside: customizing your invoices is very limited, which we know is important to our creative friends. Cost: Starts at $10/month and goes up to $17/month.
  2. Freshbooks- great tool for the self-employed and project-based businesses. Best feature: hands down the best invoice customization tool on the market. Downside: the financial reporting is limited, which may be an issue as you grow your business. Cost: Starts at $15/month and goes up to $50/month
  3. Xero Tax Touch- known as beautiful accounting software, this program's design is really easy on the eyes and geared towards freelancers/independent contractors. Best feature: easy-to-read report on your income, expenses and how much taxes you owe for the year. Downside: no invoicing capability, which is a huge downside for the woman on the go. Cost: $6/month 
  4. Sage Onegeared towards the small business owner on the go. Best feature: great inventory tracking capabilities. Downside: this product is a little too robust for the freelancer or independent contractor, and therefore not very intuitive. Cost: $25/month
  5. Kashoo- named the #1 accounting app on the iPad and really great for the traveling business owner. Best feature: works offline so you can access your data even if you are out of internet range. Downside: similar to SageOne, not necessarily an intuitive program for the freelancer or independent contractor. Cost: Approximately $17/month

And now we'd like to hear from you! Which accounting software do you use for your business and why? Leave a comment below.

For more accounting tips for the independent woman, be sure to click here and join our weekly newsletter.