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A new (free!) magazine for entrepreneurial women
By Tammy May

I was recently invited to become a contributing columnist to Samara Magazine, a new online magazine that's designed for women interested in business and entrepreneurship.

This is a topic which is really important to me. In fact, I've started to think more about how I can mentor other business owners. I feel that helping other businesses to succeed is yet another way to further MyBudget's commitment to reducing financial stress in the community.

There are six editions of Samara Magazine annually and it's free to subscribe. Here's the link to their homepage.

This article appeared in the second issue:

Take Control of Your Money and Your Life

When I talk with fellow businesswomen, I know they understand budgeting. Some of them run multi-million dollar companies. Yet it’s surprising how many successful businesswomen have confided in me that they don’t have a similar handle on their personal finances.

For most of them, it’s an issue of time. Professional women are stretched thinner than Kate Moss by work and family commitments. No wonder personal finance gets shuffled down the 'to do' list.

If you’re anything like me, the prospect of creating yet another spreadsheet has to come with guaranteed rewards.

So what do you get for your investment when you create a personal budget?

If you do it right, the payoff is that you will knowexactly what your short-term and long-range financial position is. Every dollar you earn will work that little bit harder for you. Over the space of a few years, there’s potentially thousands of dollars to be saved — money you can invest in your business or otherwise spend at your utter discretion!

If money is tight, your budget will show you where you can trim expenses. Many people are blown away when budgeting reveals how much money they waste on stuff.

Personal budgeting is especially important if your business is new or your income fluctuates. I only managed to survive the early years of self-employment because I ran a tight household budget at home.

As an important side note, you should aim to start drawing a salary (even if only a meager one) from your business as soon as possible. This separates your personal and business finances and establishes your company as a stand-alone asset. Should you ever need a loan in the future, evidence of a steady pay deposit could mean the difference between borrowing from a reputable bank or a bottom-feeding loan shark.

If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills on time, your personal budget will show you where the bottlenecks are. If your debts are stretching you, you’ll be able to see what sorts of payments you can afford. Creditors are more likely to be lenient if you can show them that you have a personal budget in place.

But budgeting is just as important when times are good. A personal or household budget will help you to detect and control the inevitable lifestyle creep that accompanies business success. Your budget will ensure that there’s money left over for you to achieve other financial goals while also enjoying some of life’s luxuries.

You can further help to control lifestyle creep by having the discipline to use cash for your everyday living expenses. Credit cards are an innovative financial product, but they are also a leading cause of financial stress. Cards make it easy to spend without thinking whereas cash is a visual reminder of your budget, right there in your purse. At least try using cash for your living expenses for a month. You’ll find that you become more conscious of your spending habits.

When you sit down to create your budget, begin by listing all of your expenses that occur throughout the year. Your list will include expenses that come up monthly, quarterly, annually and sporadically. Don’t overlook expenses like your car rego, driver’s license renewal, Christmas costs, birthdays, and vet checkups.

What about unexpected expenses? A portion of your income (no matter how small your salary) should be committed to savings. Savings provide a safety net which will protect you from unexpected expenses or life changes that may impact your income.

Remember, for your personal or household budget to work it needs to be a long-range plan that includes most of your expenses over the year. Short-term budgets based on a single month or pay period tend to break down and don’t provide enough long-range visibility to set goals for the future.

Is it worth the time to create a budget? Well, I definitely think so. I’ve seen thousands of people change their lives with personal budgeting. Living life without a budget is like navigating without a map. You’ll still end up someplace, but will it be your desired destination?

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