Monday, July 11, 2011

Pick a number.

This is one of those apparently incredibly boring budget blogs I do, which I, of course, find utterly fascinating.

Anyway, my biggest problem in business has been budgeting my purchases. I'm well over the break-even point in my store, so as long as I order correctly, I can be profitable.

So I set strict budgets, and then try to stay within them.

And then, most often, I don't.

I can't seem to help it. I see a product I think the store should have and I order it.

It all should even out in the end, right? Good stuff will sell, and compensate for the extra purchases. Except it doesn't seem to work that way. I have a particular level of sales at any time and spending twice as much may boost it slightly, and spending half as much might depress it slightly, but on an ongoing basis, overspending is overspending.

Yes, it helps the long term growth of the store. But meanwhile, the cashflow can get hammered.

So I construct a budget that theoretically allows me to do both.

And then I bust the budget.

So what do I do about it? (I know, I know --show a little self-discipline. Other than that, because I've had years to do that and haven't managed.)

I joke that I need a CFO, chief financial officer, who would only give me enough money to stay within budget. Or, try to turn my checkbook over to Linda -- but we both know I'd wheedle her until she gave in.

I'm sure there is a trick that will work.

For instance, I tried for years to save money at the end of every month. Theoretically, I should most often have been able to do it. But...well -- see the rest of this post. Extra money got spent.

I finally imposed an automatic withdrawal every month that would be kind of a hassle to change and somewhat ego deflating to have to ask to change -- therefore, I make sure I have the money in the account on that date. I'm on my 10th month of doing that, and it's working.

My newest technique is to pick a number of items I'll allow myself to order per week -- say, X number of graphic novels, X number of new books, X number of games.

I've only been doing this for a few weeks but it seems to be working. It forces me to choose the most important items every week. If I sell a lot, I order the most needed, if I don't sell a lot that week, I can order the most needed and go back further onto the list and order the next level of need.

Of course, nothing will work without a mindset change. I can be budgeted all I want, but unless I'm really committed to saving money, it won't matter. Ironically, I'm able to be disciplined when my back is to the wall --when a big bill is due. But as soon as I create a little breathing room, I start getting ambitious again.

But this picking a set number of items is just challenging enough to be satisfying, while doing the job.

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