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7 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

7 Ways to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

For entrepreneurs, cash flow is a vital component of business operations. Business owners shouldn’t just take notice of available cash when times are tight; maintaining an optimal level of cash on hand in all circumstances ensures your business can make it through any financial bumps in the road.

Here are a few tips on keeping your cash flow where it needs to be for business security.

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1. Offer Early Payment Discounts

Incentivize your clients by giving them a discount for early payment. An acceptable discount is 2% but up to 5% may be worth the slight revenue reduction. Your customers, whether individuals or other businesses, like to save money too. Give them a reason to pay you right away and reduce the risk of late or missed payments that cause a dip in your cash flow.

2. Set Up Extended Payment Deadlines

Whenever possible, pay what you owe to vendors right away. For the months when there may be a gap in cash flow and payments, however, set up an extended payment agreement with the people you owe. This can mean an official 60-day turnaround for all payments, or even a clause in the agreement that allows it a certain number of times in a year. Don’t pay late if you have the money on hand, but be prepared in case you need to use that option on occasion. It will save you money on late payment fees and also allow more time to receive revenue to pay the bills.

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3. Build a Cash Reserve

Think of a cash reserve as a savings account of sorts for your business. This is money that is not allocated to anything else but is simply available if you need it. Financial experts recommend keeping three to six months’ operating expenses in a cash reserve, but you can adjust those numbers based on the stage of your business and what you plan to spend in coming months. Figure out a smart amount for what you need to operate, and then set it aside.

4. Finance When it Makes Sense

Just because you have the cash on hand to handle any unexpected expenses does not mean that you should spend it. There are times when it might make more sense to leave that cash alone, and seek out short- or long-term financing instead. You can do this through a small business loan or even a business credit card. Do your homework to find the right credit option for your needs. Don’t break into your cash stash if there is another way around it – particularly when the amount in your cash reserve isn’t enough to cover the expense anyway.

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5. Hire a Money Manager

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and that is definitely the case when it comes to handling your financial matters. Perhaps you don’t have the budget for a full time accountant on staff – hire part-time help or go to a local firm once a month. It’s difficult to be objective about spending for your business when you own it. Let someone else take a closer look at money coming in and going out – and give you advice on spending and saving.

6. Know Your Break-Even Point

What is the number you need to reach each month to start making money? You can figure this out by adding up your operating expenses, wages, overhead costs, and your own salary. How much do you need to make to meet all of those obligations? Once you have that number in mind, you can spend with greater savvy and as a result, keep your cash flow at its optimal level.

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7. Follow a Budget

This may seem obvious but it’s vitally important to the health of your cash flow. Business owners often focus too much on profits and not enough on spending. You aren’t really getting ahead if the amount you make off each sale can’t cover your other expenses. Save money wherever you can and track all of your business spending. Having a spreadsheet or software that can quickly break down cash coming in and going back out will make you more mindful of how that hard-earned business money is spent.

Keeping a robust cash flow takes vigilance but it will help protect your business during tough times. Your cash on hand gives you more stability and having enough of it will help you sleep better at night.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pexels.com

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Annie Qureshi

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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