Chapter 20. Budgeting and Planning

As you’ve no doubt noticed in business and in life, the activities that cost money almost always seem to outnumber those that bring money in. If you run a small business, you may not need to use a budget. But most companies want to make money and most nonprofits want to do the most with the funds they have, so budgeting and planning are essential business activities.

Like any kind of plan, a budget is an estimate of what’s going to happen. Your actual results will never exactly match the numbers you estimate in your budget. (If they do, someone’s playing games with your books.) But comparing your actual performance to your budget can tell you that it’s time to crack the whip on the sales team, rein in your spending, or both.

Budgeting in QuickBooks is both simple and simplistic. The program handles basic budgets and provides some shortcuts for entering numbers. However, you can’t see whether your budget is working as you build it, and playing what-if games with budgets requires some fancy footwork. (The box on Budgets and Forecasts describes one way to create multiple budgets for the same time period.)

The easiest way to handle budgets is to craft them with a spreadsheet program like Excel. You can use all of Excel’s commands to massage the numbers and then import your budgetary masterpiece into QuickBooks so you can compare your actual performance to the budget. This chapter explains your budgeting options, teaches you how to import budgets from ...

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