The first “so simple, why didn’t we think of it?” rule to controlling your money

21 May

You’ve had the good sense to keep track of your receipts, your receivables, your balances. Every year, you file those taxes and cross your fingers. Then the new fiscal year arrives and life rolls forward. Until. . .

The government requests an audit. Suddenly all the receipts that you shredded last spring in a whirl-wind office cleansing are essential and the books need to be revisited. Scrambling for your balancing sheets, your print-offs, your visa bills – that dreaded feeling pours over you thick and sticky like molasses: what if I did something wrong?

Take a deep breath, because today we’ve got some wise words from Lisa Millar,  controller at CDS Group of Companies who has been in the biz for over twenty years. She boosts an impressive streak of three consecutive audits with zero adjusting entries. (Pssst – that means there were no mistakes when the auditors checked over the books. That’s like winning an Olympic medal in the book keeping world.)

“Where I was before, we were a 20 million a year business, so there were thousands and thousands of entries in a month. Of everything we did, every single entry, when the accountant came and did the full-blown audit, they made no adjustments. There was nothing to be fixed, no errors.”

So what is the big secret behind this big success?

Actually, it’s really quite simple.

“Put it into procedures and strategies. When you do that, you can double check all of your work against it  — you can validate every single thing you do, and it becomes effortless.”

While we can’t all be book keeping wizards, we can nevertheless learn how to organize our finances in a way that is strategic.

  • Block out time in your monthly calendar. Make this the official day (or two) you sit down and address the finances.
  • Look over your accounting system and write down the steps taken in order to balance perfectly. This might be tedious at first, but it will make future entries much easier.
  • Once you’ve established a system, constantly check against it. If off by even five cents, go back and review for the error.
  • Get help. If you are overwhelmed, take this feeling to your coach and have them help you dig more deeply into your patterns. Chances are, your disorganization goes way deeper than balancing your books.  “We have a natural strategy to cope,” says Lisa, “but coaching is just quicker because we come up with a strategy – your coach has the right questions to form that strategy.”

Your take away: the answer to financial stress is in having a system. So unclog those mental pipes and write down the exact procedure you need to follow in tracking and recording your finances. Once it’s on paper, and once you follow that to the tee – do not let pennies slip away. And take this concern to your coach and see what strategies they can help you establish.

But you know what’s worse than balancing money? Having no money at all. Next Monday Lisa uncovers the secret to recovering money owed, and no – it doesn’t involve baseball bats or harassing phone calls. Quite the opposite, actually . . .

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