"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
I know budgeting wasn’t the subject matter back when Aristotle coined this term, but it still applies. And, in this case, it’s actually a negative.
There are many services, add-ons, and upgrades that are available to our online resources. Wordpress has plugins and themes, free services have premium versions, and “for only $5/month” you can upgrade to unlimited whatever.
The biggest mistake you can make is to justify each of these individually. If you look at the “ad-free” version of your favourite app on its own, it’s easy to convince yourself that $20 isn’t a lot of money; and it’s not. $5/month also isn’t a big commitment on its own; if it was the only thing you were paying for each month.
The big tip here is to stand back and look at the big picture. What are ALL of these services costing you each month? Does that fit with the budget you had in mind for this part of your business? Maybe $10 isn’t a lot of money, but when you add it to the 10 other “extras” you decided were really important along the way, that money can add up quickly.
If you are a GTD convert, you will be familiar with the Weekly Review. If not, it’s basically a meeting you have with yourself to go over the important projects, see where you’re at with each one, and decide what actions need to happen next. I think a Monthly Review for your budget is even more important. At least once a month, sit down and go over all of your expenses. Look for items that are duplicating functionality, or services you’re just not using as much as you thought.
Could you be using the free version instead? Could you eliminate it altogether? Is there another service that could replace several services for less money? These are all important topics to go over during your review.
For example, I was paying for the premium version of Hootsuite for a couple of months. It’s not a lot of money…I think about $5/month. It gives you the ability to add an unlimited amount of social networks to track, and analytics on your posts. The problem was, I really wasn’t actively using more than the allotted 5 account, and the analytics weren’t telling me more than I already knew. So, I decided to go back to the free account. I know that $5/month wasn’t a lot, but the $60 I would have spent this year effectively paid for the premium theme I’m using on the site.
Are there examples of this in your business? Do you have any expenses you can ditch, and put that money to better use? Feel free to share your examples in the comments.