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Preparing a Cash Budget

Cash Budget vs. Cash Flow Statement

Business owners love their lingo—and really, who doesn’t love a little jargon? But once in a blue moon, similar expressions overlap and it can be difficult to understand the difference between, say, your business’s cash budget and cash flow.

Business owners use the term “cash flow” to cover a lot of ground, but typically cash flow statements are comprehensive reports that evaluate fluctuations in operating, investment, and financing funds over a sustained period.

Along with income statements and balance sheets, cash flow statements are one of the financial documents required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the body that regulates generally-accepted accounting practices for businesses of all sizes.

A cash budget, on the other hand, is a tool for managing working capital, and generally it is maintained on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. The document boils down to Cash In versus Cash Out. An accurate cash budget acts as a snapshot of your business’s available financial resources: how much do you have available to borrow, and how much do you have available to spend?

Maintaining a cash budget will save you time and energy, and it might just help you secure funds in a pinch. Listed below are some of the additional benefits of preparing a cash budget for your small business.

Balance Sheet

When your business needs to borrow, the first document that any lender will ask for is a balance sheet, and keeping an up-to-date cash budget makes preparing pro forma balance sheets a snap. Using your cash budget, you can predict your financing needs for the current year, adjusting for seasonal sales fluctuations. Knowing precisely how much cash your business needs to operate will help you find the right loan at the right rate, and that could mean big savings for your business in the long term.

Business Operations

If the IRS requires your business to file estimated quarterly tax payments, then a cash budget is absolutely essential. Your budget allows you to estimate how much income you will take in during the coming months, as well as how much you are likely to pay in expenses.

And having a backlog of cash budgets will help you to predict cycles and fluctuations in your budget that occur year-to-year. This keeps you from under-reporting your quarterly taxes, and it saves you from the heavy fees and fines the IRS will levy against your business if you incorrectly estimate your tax obligations.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are running a business by yourself or working with a team of managers, everybody needs to focus on the bottom line. Your cash budget acts as a guideline and benchmark, and preparing a monthly budget for your management team will keep you focused on profitability, no matter the economic climate.



Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.