Debit. Credit. Income. Expense. Revenue. Profit. Gross. Net. All the financial words that usually cause a feeling of uncertainty in the realm of money for those that are unfamiliar. Together we can help you to ask the right questions to the right people when it comes to your finances.
First things first. It’s ok to ask for help in the area of finances, business or personal. There are entire agencies, including IRS – Internal Revenue Service, SEC – Securities and Exchanges Commission, and FTC – Federal Trade Commission, to name a few, designated to create ever-changing rules, laws, and guidelines of how to handle money. So you can feel confident in seeking out someone that knows this stuff and feel no shame in it.
What do you do first?
In order to be able to ask financial questions, you need to gather your information. If you have all of your receipts, invoices, bank statements online, then you can easily create a folder/dropbox to put them in one spot. If you have some paper receipts, invoices statements, grab a manila envelope or folder, and put them in one spot.
And if you’re already doing this, yippee, yay, yahoo, all of the financial world is dancing and celebrating 🙂
What do you ask?
Sometimes we look at our bank accounts and say I know how much money I made, it’s what’s left in the account. While that shows you how much is there right now, it doesn’t give you a complete financial picture.
Below are some topics to get the discussion going around your financial questions and situation.
Financial Discussion Starters
Starting point – if you filed your taxes last year, use that as your starting point. The person that prepared your taxes, usually your tax accountant, will be able to walk you through your return, helping you to understand where your money is made and where it is spent (for businesses). On the personal side, you’ll be able to see where your money is made but usually you just get to see what taxes you paid.
Outstanding – what payments do you have outstanding? Who and how much do you owe? What sales invoices do you have outstanding? Who and how much are you due?
Filing – am I ahead of the tax filing deadlines? Do I need to make any quarterly payments?
Net Income – once all your sales/income has been tallied, and all your bills/expenses have been paid, what is your bottom line? This can also be called net profit.
Cash Flow – does your cash coming in from sales exceed your cash going out for bills and expenses? Are there times when it is tight or negative? Can we change the timing of invoices or billings?
Spending trends – are there certain categories of spending that seem higher during a given period? Is the spending tied to a certain product/service? Does it increase the sales of a product?
Sales trends – are there certain weeks/months/periods when the sales are higher? Is the marketing tied to those periods paying off or falling flat?
Who do you ask?
Sometimes we can find the answers ourselves and sometimes we need to enlist help. Below is a list of the top 3 common types of financial experts to ask the questions about your finances.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP) – they will typically help with retirement planning, investment planning, insurance, and generally money planning.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – they will typically help with tax preparation and filing, as well as financial statements preparation and review.
- Bookkeeper – they will typically help with categorizing and recording financial data and transactions, as well as reconciling bank accounts.
*Side note – I selected the 3 that are most well known and comprehensive. There are over 200 designations of financial experts as of May 2020, according to FINRA – Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – here is the list — https://www.finra.org/investors/professional-designations
I also want to encourage you that if you find finances and money interesting, do your own research, dig in and see what you can learn.
I’d love to know how you are doing in your journey!