When it comes to budgeting, whatever you do, don’t start at the beginning! Start backwards.
Peruse a budget template. That’s a lot of categories, isn’t it? Kind of makes the budget template seem smart by itself. Not so.
Sure, if you start budgeting at the first category and work your way linearly though the template to the end, you’re going to find line items you never considered. You’ll say to yourself, “that sounds good. I probably need one of those” and add it to your budget… and sooner than later your budget’s bottom line will swell to an unruly size. Who’d have thought that your production would cost so much!
The solution? Start budgeting backwards.
How much money might you have for the production? A ballpark figure will do, if the final financing amount isn’t available. That’s the end and that’s as far as you want to go.
Now go to the middle. Start budgeting the set crew categories below-the-line. You’ve decided on how many days, so that’s the place to plug in the first set of numbers. Bypass many of the template’s recommended categories. If you’re not entirely sure that you might want one of its recommendations, add it in for $1… the ridiculous amount will flag the category for when you review the overall budget after writing the first draft and then you can consider the recommendation in context of the entire budget and all departments in place.
Finally, fill in the other missing categories. By the time you review the budget from beginning to end (toward the end of your first draft), you will have a sense of the overall budget and can more wisely by-pass or select those extra categories.
It takes a bit of practice to know how big a crew and how many days a budget can support at different budget levels, but you’ll probably surprise yourself when you slow down a bit and let your logical brain kick in. The budget template is only a guide… and you’re the smart one writing the budget itself.
Cheers & smart budgeting to you,