I don’t actually believe in self–discipline. I believe in creating a compelling vision, setting chunked–down goals with timelines, setting things up so that they are as easy to achieve as possible and then designing environments and support systems to ensure your success.
We have talked a bit about the compelling vision and the next thing to consider is simplicity.
The secret to financial success is to KISS (keep it simple, smarty!).
I have tried every accounting package under the sun (Microsoft Money worked for a while) but they are all just too complicated. You don’t need all that stuff! A simple Excel spreadsheet that tracks your bank account and feeds into an 18-month cashflow forecast will do the job nicely.
I have an Excel spreadsheet already set up for this purpose. If you’d like a copy then come along to The Money Gym Blog and join Money Gym Silver for the 30-day free trial, then you can download it from the Cashflow section (Module 3).
Learn how to use Excel fast. Nothing fancy, just a few simple basics. Try the tutorial, buy a book – there must be an ‘Excel for Dummies’ book - or get a local computer–savvy teenager in for a few hours to show you how to set up a simple formula to add rows of figures up, so that if you change one of the figures, the total changes.
Every week, I take my cashflow forecast, which is set up to predict my income and outgoings weekly, not monthly and I compare it to what has happened in my bank account, from a printout from my internet banking.
I bold the items that actually happened until the carried forward total matches the amount in my bank account up to that point, then I carry forward any items that I predicted but that hasn’t happened.
This feeds through into a simple set of management accounts which also tell me what my income tax provision and VAT payable should be. I move those sums into my business deposit account.
Then the next week I do the same. Don’t overcomplicate things.
This technique enables me to know the impact that every bill, every cash-point withdrawal, every amount earned, will have on my finances up to 18 months time. I can see any potential problems in plenty of time to do something about them.
And that brings financial peace of mind which is a pearl without price.
My first wealth mentor, property investor and C4 Secret Millionaire, Gill Fielding, always used to say that if your finances can’t be fitted onto a simple spreadsheet, it ain’t working. I also once worked for an entrepreneur who said that if a deal couldn’t be demonstrated on the back of a fag packet it was no good. Gill’s finances are very sophisticated in terms of ease of use and earning power but very simply laid out. Just a simple spreadsheet. Don’t make it harder for yourself – force yourself to keep it almost baby-like.
Pull It All Together
The oil that lubricates your money-making vehicles is information. How can you make good decisions if you don’t have all the information you need at your fingertips? Here is where we gather everything you will need into one place. Don’t worry! You don’t have to do anything with it just yet.
First of all, gather The Equipment. You will need a ring binder or two, some coloured file dividers (minimum of 5), plastic wallets to keep small items and loose sheets in, a hole punch and a stapler.
You also need three pens; black, red and blue or green. Gather everything together first, because if you need to get up from your seat for anything, you will get distracted by the kettle, the washing or the cat etc, and will lose the momentum.
Next, gather The Information. Recent bank statements, credit card statements, wage slips or sales invoices (if you are self-employed). Put Tax Stuff in a separate pile.
File the bank statements at the front section, in date order, with the oldest items at the back. Sort your Credit card statements similarly.
Next gather the information for the ‘money in’ section, wage slips or invoices. Then the ‘money out’ section. Receipts or invoices for things you buy.
How much you divide each section up is entirely up to you – again, keep it ‘big picture’ and as simple as possible to start with.
Get a printout from the bank of all current direct debits or standing orders.
That’s it for today!