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a blog by Chris Barrow

Money Monday – strategically planning your finances

Question – have you already prepared a budget and cash flow forecast for 2014 – personally and professionally? I opened my first Excel spreadsheet with this purpose in 1996 – and I’m still using the same methodology now. Previously, I have mentioned that, in an ideal world, you would take some time to think about next year’s finances at an August planning retreat. When you have created an embedded habit of managing finances weekly, the need for the summer-time financial retreat diminishes – and the break between Christmas and New Year can be a golden opportunity to cut and paste all of those rows into a new worksheet. Those who follow me on social media will know that I’m very OCD about weekly updates – most frequently on a Sunday morning. I have never enjoyed financial management – regard it as a chore – but it dawned on me many years ago that 30 minutes updating every Sunday was much better than 2 to 3 hours once a month (where I had to re-tune myself into my own cash flow). Weekly I simply download my internet banking for the last 7 days and “yellow” all the cells in my spreadsheet to change budget to actual – so I have a visual representation of what has been paid as the month progresses – and can also check expected income versus expenditure for the balance of the month. Result – peace of mind and a clear head at the start of the working week. Annually (and I’ll be doing this is a couple of weeks from now) – I will open a new worksheet, repopulate the rows and, in many cases, just copy across fixed costs and formulas for known variable costs. It wil also be a chance to think about items of capital expenditure, from a holiday to a new piece of equipment. I like to start every Monday morning with financial confidence about the week ahead. Equally, it builds confidence if, on 1st january 2014, you have plotted a course for the year and simply then have to take a positional reading every weekend and subtly change direction. If you would like a sample personal and professional spreadsheet, just email

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