The great news is, you have your objectives and your task list is slimmed down to the critical essentials. Now it’s time to estimate and allocate your budget for each task. There’s some math needed at this early stage, and excel will be your best friend as you monitor expenses in the lead up (and after) an event.
First of all, to get an accurate representation of each element of the task, you will need to boil it down into meticulous detail. It sounds tedious, but you may just surprise yourself about the hidden costs – and it’s best to catch these early. Once you have each task narrowed down to within an inch of its life, the following items may arise:
- Licenses and Permit
- Equipment and Storage
- Labour and Materials
Whether the amount is coming from your pocket, a client or the company you work for, it is imperative you track the money closely. Remaining under budget will gain you praise from your bank or lender, whereas going over budget can leave you in some very tricky situations.
So how do you estimate the cost of your event and detailed elements listed in the task list? You can do research online, contact vendors for quotes and trawl the internet shops for best available deals. That’s the easy bit – the harder bit goes back to being organised. Just like having a binder filled with your inner most thoughts and feelings of what you want to have, you now need to organise your expenses for each task on the list. This will help you avoid any unexpected costs after the event, like vendor payments, shipping and postage costs, EVERYTHING! There are a number of tools available, but the method I am most familiar with goes as follows…
Open up Excel and transfer all tasks into a spreadsheet, with the following considerations:
The document doesn’t really need to look more complicated than this, however I would encouraged you to include as much information as possible. Within each task item, you should include details of your desired outcome, especially if you are planning an event for a client. This will help to demonstrate why there has been budget allocated to a specific item, and will help you make the right decisions later if you decide it is no longer required. Essentially, the more details you include during your planning stages, the better chance you will have later on down the line.
- Price per unit – if you have an overall cost for the task, just include the single amount here. In the same way, include all costs of a vendor here, even if you are paying in instalments
- Estimated cost – Once you have calculated how much each element of a task will cost and received quotes, this will represent your budget. If you have extra money left over, brilliant. If not, you may need to start narrowing down your task list again. It’s always best to do this during the planning stages than have some nasty surprises later!
- Actual cost – As you move through each task and your vendors confirm payment details, make sure you fill in the actual cost details. These costs may be higher than your estimate, which means you may need to negotiate discounts for other items later down the road. Remember to include tax amounts in the actual costs.
You should now have everything in place regarding expenses of your event. I reiterate for dramatic effect – do not forget about your budget tracker. As soon as you have a contract signed, paid for and completed: Update the budget tracker! If you wait until a week before the event and find you have overspent on decorations and can’t afford to feed your guests – well, they would rather see an empty room. If people don’t eat, they don’t stay. Use your budget as a quality control for your event, ensuring you have your critical essentials adequately budgeted for.
Are there specific tools you use for tracking budgets? Or do you have additional fields you like to complete when tracking budgets? I’d love to hear your best practices in our comments to continually support our audience in achieving their ambitious goals.