Thursday, Sep. 10, 2009
Law Practice Management Tip of the Week
Need help creating a budget?
Long term financial success requires planning and knowledge
based upon an analysis of both firm and personal financial
information. A good starting point for any attorney is to develop a
personal home budget based upon actual income and expenses. This
personal budget will provide a key tool for evaluating both your
bottom line income needs, and also will help you identify excess
spending. A key to developing a successful budget is accurate
information that reflects the economic reality based on a careful
analysis of historic spending and income. This is critical because
we all tend to underestimate our spending and overestimate our
income. Here are several tools for creating a realistic budget.
- A first option is to use Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet
program which all have free templates which can be used to create a
personal budget. For example, Microsoft personal budget templates
may be found at the Microsoft site. To populate the critical
information you will do an analysis of your bank account, bills,
credit cards, etc., to determine your spending and income for the
last six months.
- A second option is to purchase personal finance software like
or Moneydance. These are
relatively cheap (less than $40.00), support on-line banking and
bill payment, and help manage your budget. These programs require
less input then a spreadsheet template, but will require some input
and analysis by you.
- The third option is sign up for free internet based software
vendors such as mint.com, intuit.com (free Quicken on-line), or yodlee.com, that
provide personal budget programs. These sites will do a complete
analysis of your spending and income, help you set spending and
saving goals, track how you are doing, and help find ways to save
more money. For example, mint.com will suggest where you can
improve on interest rates on loans and credit cards, help you
prepare for tax season, and will provide helpful advice on how to
achieve your goals.
A word of caution: to effectively use the on-line service
providers you will need to provide them some access to your
financial information so look at technology reviews, user
agreements, and exercise caution about the security used by the
site to ensure that site is keeping your information as safe as
For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management
Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.
To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section,
contact Co-Chairs Andrea Goldman or Rodney Dowell.