|If you have your information in quickbooks, We (my wife, she does a good job on the books, I just check in and hope she stops me before we get in trouble) export the last 12 months of income and expense, by month, into a spreadsheet. This gives us our categories and how much we spent last year each month, in each category, with an annual total at the end. At the bottom you have a net for each month, positive or negative. |
We sit down a couple times a year and go over this together. If you have the numbers from last year populated it isn't too hard to come up with new numbers for the next year. Some things don't change, some things get moved to different months, some things get changed a lot based on dropping an enterprise, new machinery, ect.
Between each month column, she adds a new blank column. The original column that is populated is the "forecast". As we go through the year and are done with March, she fills in the Actual March column after reconciling with the bank in quickbooks. This is helpful because maybe over the winter we were planning and said, that pen of fat cattle should be ready in July so we put some income in July for cattle sales. July comes and we sold them July 20, but they didn't get killed until August and the check hit the bank acount in August. We can see the money is the same but it was just a timing issue. Also, maybe I tell her we have some corn hedged for March so we show some income in March. We have a good basis in January and we go ahead and deliver it in January, she can put the income into January, and take it out of March. Again still the same income, but helps a lot as far as knowing where we are at, as month to month a check in or out sometimes can make a huge swing in the current position.
The nice thing in Excel is you can just keep adding another page for the next year and after a few years you can go back and see what you did and get better at forecasting into the future. Also, because quickbooks can export to excel, you can keep it similar to your actual accounting software and always have acurate numbers up to how current your quickbooks is.