A Strategic Planner’s Best Friend – Tracking Spend (Truly)
By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
In today’s environment, a firm grip on how to handle budgets is vital. Meeting and event planners are constantly challenged to do more with less. Executives are taking a critical eye to event budgets and how planners are tracking spend. Plus, we’re in a seller’s market with prices on the rise.
This is a lot to navigate and it can be intimidating. The financial aspect of our jobs isn’t easy and it isn’t one that comes naturally to everyone. But we’re all expected to do it and do it well.
With that said, the number of planners who avoid budgets because they’re uncomfortable navigating Excel, creating estimates for programs that have not yet been booked or have a general dislike for math is sizable. I’ve heard, “I am a planner not an accountant” or words like that more times than I can count. For many of us, math takes us back to that moment in school where we stood at the board, paralyzed, while the entire class waited for us to answer what X equaled.
Those experiences leave a scar. But the truth is we have a responsibility to be the fiscal managers and overseers of our programs. We need to know how to leverage, control and track funds with precision. For many of us, that’s not even something we do in our personal lives. If our own money management is daunting, how can we possibly tackle it competently on a larger scale for work?
This question is important enough to dedicate time to answer. This is one of several articles designed to help you tackle both your personal and professional spend like a pro. Along the way we’ll look at building new spending habits; learning to save and making it fun; tackling work budgets, along with pitfalls and tips; and how to create budget estimates years in advance. Look for these columns on Mondays.
Along the way your questions and feedback are encouraged, so email me — Christy.Lamagna@strategic.events — at any point and become part of the conversation.
Focusing on our personal financial health is the best place to start. Do you have a realistic understanding of how much money you spend in a week? Although many of us initially answer “yes,” the reality is that with just a bit of research, the real answer may surprise us.
If you want to embrace, not avoid budgets and all things financial, partner with me for the next few weeks. Together we’ll unravel the mysteries of budgeting. All the activities are easy to do and require a minimal amount of time and effort. The first step is investing in the process. Make the decision to embark on a simple, yet life-changing journey. Commit to the next few weeks of tasks and steps. Complete this process and you’ll be thanking yourself all the way to the bank.
To start, complete this simple exercise. Grab a pen. Take a moment to estimate what you believe you spend each week. Write it down. Don’t analyze it, just write down your general estimate. Starting tomorrow, track every cent you spend for the next seven days.
We buy things on our phones while waiting for appointments, online while on a conference call (admit it!) or just randomly throughout the day by swiping our debit cards. This is a commitment to track that spend. You’re not going to master your finances unless you do, so make the effort.
Create an Excel spreadsheet and enter your daily spend and what the money was used for each day. That’s it. Check back with me next week and we’ll take it from there. See you next Monday.
Tags: A Strategic Planner’s Best Friend Tracking Spend, Saving, Tracking Spend, Money, Budgets, Budgeting, Event Planning, Event Budgets, Event Planners, Strategic Planners, Strategic Events, Plan Your Meetings