How often have you overspent on a “deal” that was guaranteed to help increase your income, but left you broke instead? How many times have you lacked the funds necessary to buy that eBook that could teach you ways to improve your marketing strategy? If you’re like most Independent Authors, myself included, the times for either scenario are many. So what can you do to safe-guard against those ups and downs in your finances and take control of your spending? Budget.
If your primary goal is to continue to improve yourself, whether that means your writing or how you market your product, having money allocated specifically to continued education assures you that the money is there when you need it without having to ask the dragon (aka credit cards) to fit the bill. Using a budget for those funds also forces us to think before we buy.
Michael Martine of RemarkaBlogger suggests in his post “The Most Important Question You Need to Stop Asking Yourself“* that you first set training goals, something specific like learning how to take advantage of social media to market your book, and then take a look at how you spent your “training” money in the past year. (If you’ve read The Money Book you’re a step ahead already.)
From there he tells us to set our quarterly budget by taking the amount we’re comfortable with spending over a year and dividing it by four. As Michael says setting a training budget helps us decide between what is a good buy and what would make us “the victim of others for their gain.”
What I really like about this approach is that, while we’re setting a spending limit, it’s based on past experience. As Simple Life in France puts it in “How to budget for inspiration not deprivation” by building a budget at the end of the month, or in this case upon last year’s spending, “your budget is just an honest friend here to tell you the truth about the way you spend your money. You’re making observations, not judgments.” As my mentor, FlyLady Marla Cilley, says, in order to improve ourselves we need to get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That means not beating ourselves up each time we overspend, but rather making an effort to do better this month.
If you want to budget for your continued training, basing it upon last year’s spending and reviewing it at the end of each month can be a real stress reliever, especially when you can congratulate yourself for staying within your limits on The Road to Writing.
– Virginia Ripple (http://virginiaripple.wordpress.com)