Budget: a two syllable word which makes many of us groan. For some reason people tend to dislike the word “budget” it has a negative connotation and often brings to mind the thought of stress over money and lifestyle deprivation. In reality, budget is a great word, and budgeting is a great concept. While the idea of budgeting may not bring you excitement, it is crucial to your financial health. Throughout my experience as a debt resolution attorney for over 20 years, I have become very familiar with typical budgeting mistakes and how to fix them. Nearly everything worthwhile comes with a learning curve and budgeting is no exception. There may be various reasons why your budget isn’t working, and most have simple fixes!
Here are five reasons why your budget may not be working in your favor and how you can fix it.
"It’s so important to have a 'what if' fund to avoid relying on credit cards, personal loans, and other forms of self-imposed debt."
1. Not making friends with your budget
Don’t laugh but I have known people who would rather have dental work done than work on a budget. For them, a budget is an enemy. If budgeting makes you cringe as well, my first step would be to tell you to wave the white flag!
The Fix: A budget is your ticket to getting out of debt, saving money, and achieving your financial dreams. In short, your budget is the best financial friend you can have. For those who are resistant to make the leap from foe to friend, I suggest naming your new budget. Name it Desire for something you’d like to be able to afford eventually, or Bill because you want to emulate Bill Gates. Whichever name you choose, the second you give your new budget a name it ceases being an enemy and starts being your friend.
2. It’s Not SMART
“Smart” budgets are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and trackable. Have you ever thought to yourself “I’ve been good about my spending lately” only to take a look at your account balance and wonder where all your money has disappeared to? If your budget does not accurately reflect your expenses every month or sets unrealistic spending limits, there is no way it can work.
The Fix: Making a SMART budget can be scary because it requires you to get down in the nitty-gritty of your bank statements each month. It can also be time-consuming to make a SMART budget. Do it in a place where you have minimal distractions and where you feel relaxed. Whether it is in a bubble bath or in bed, being in a stress-free environment will make creating your budget that much easier.
3. Omitting One-Time Annual Expenses
If you’re not tracking your expenses accurately, this may lead you to go over budget. Keeping track of consistent monthly expenses like mortgage and utilities is easy because you pay these monthly. However, your once-a-year or semi-annual expenses like taxes and insurance premiums have to be a component of your budget as well.
The Fix: The more details, the better! When you first begin budgeting, make a new budget for each month and mark on your calendar which months you pay your annual or semi-annual expenses. This also includes subscriptions, dues, membership fees, annual credit cards fees, etc. After you get the hand of it create a new budget every six months, or when something significant changes in your financial situation.
"Have you ever thought to yourself 'I’ve been good about my spending lately' only to take a look at your account balance and wonder where all your money has disappeared to?"
Photo Courtesy of longliveyourmoney
4. Not Preparing for the Unexpected
Just when we may think we have a handle on our lives, unexpected turn of events can happen, whether you are faced with a busted air conditioner or an impromptu trip to the ER. If you do not have the funds to cover these unexpected expenses you can dig yourself into a hole called debt. It’s so important to have a “what if” fund to avoid relying on credit cards, personal loans, and other forms of self-imposed debt.
The Fix: Incorporate into the expenses portion of your budget called the “what if” fund. Make regular contributions and if you take money from it be sure to replenish what you took out. This fund can rescue you when trouble occurs, or act as a welcome source of cash when you need it most. Having the fund available will give you an extra layer of security and serve as an incentive to continue budgeting.
5. You’re Not Sticking to it
By far the most common reason your budget isn’t working is because you simply are not abiding by it. Whether it is an inability to say “no” or because you aren’t paying attention, the bottom line is it can’t work if you do not stick to it.
The Fix: Budgeting can be like working out; you are really motivated and excited at first, but slowly you get tired and lose interest. It is essential you push through this boredom. If you are struggling, consider budgeting with a friend! Just like you may exercise with friends, budgeting with friends can have the same effect. You can motivate and push each other to get the most out of your budget.
Once you begin budgeting and see how easy it is to turn your bad debt into good debt (and reap the financial awards that come with it), you will wonder why you ever thought it was an impossible task. Your budget shouldn’t be an added stressor but a source of stress relief. Remember your budget is your friend and just like any other relationship you need to give it proper tender loving care, set a date for it regularly.
Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.
- Sole Proprietorship
- General Partnership
- Limited Partnership or LP
- Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
- Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
- Limited Liability Company or LLC
- Professional LLC
- Professional Corporation
- Nonprofit Organization
- Cooperative Organization
As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.
Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State
All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.
What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.
To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.
Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants
There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.
Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.
Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.
This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.
General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities
The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.
Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.
Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners
A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.
The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.
It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.
It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.
Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC
Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:
- It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
- The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
- The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses
While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.
B, C and S-Corporation
By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.
However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.
C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.
The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.
B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.
S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.
Cooperative: Limited Application
A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.
This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.