During my time as manager for a student housing company one of my absolute favorite responsibilities was going through the monthly financials. I didn’t so much view it as a responsibility so much as an exciting treat. When my property accountant would email me that our financials had been posted, I would literally drop whatever I was doing to see how we had done for the month. For those that work in the same field, you’re probably thinking “well, duh, you wanted to see if you would made your month and earned your bonus”. Yes and no. My first year at my property, I didn’t earn a bonus. The projected budget I came into was pretty tight, and we had a lot of expenses that needed to happen to improve the community. I could have stayed within my budget and earned my bonus or spend what needed to be spent to achieve our goals of 100% occupancy as well as keep the facilities well mainted and our residents happy. Guess which I chose.
I haven’t thought about it a lot lately, but I loved my residents and I loved my property. They were part of my identity, even after becoming a mom. Like with my real children, my work children (aka the students who resided in the community) deserved the best, and I wanted to do everything I could (within reason) to make sure they were well taken care of. So each month, I poured over every line item of the budget to see where we could improve and where we had saved. When the time came to go through the previous month and projections for the quarter with my corporate support staff (aka my bosses) I was almost giddy to explain where we had ended up, defend any tough choices I had made, and discuss what we were doing moving forward.
But if the tables were turned, and I was to discuss my personal budget in that same manner, I would be ridiculously nervous. To have a team of people reviewing every expenditure in my budget, questioning the necessity of some of those…that is not my idea of a good time. So why do I feel so differently about my professional budget versus my personal budget??? Because I know I could be making smarter choices and saving more money. If I were to invision an operations call where instead of having to explain a marketing expense, I had to explain a Sephora expense, I would frankly be embarassed.
So I’ve decided that instead of reviewing my budget at the end of the month between just myself and my husband, it’s time for me to open myself up to some public criticism. I will not be revealing lots of actual dollar amounts. Instead I will use percentages and discuss what we did to save, unexpected expenses and how we manage them, when it’s okay to have a big expense, all the fun stuff.
If there is a particular aspect of budgeting you want me to touch on during these monthly posts, let me know!