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Budgetary Anxieties at Work

Budgetary Anxieties at Work

A company’s money is not your money. Should you ever be put in charge of a budget, it is important to remember that. To do the best possible job at managing a company’s financials, you will have to rise above some of your limitations, attitudes or anxieties. I will give you some examples to demonstrate my point.

I was blessed to have been put in charge of part of the budget for a startup company at the tender age of 23. At the time, I was still forming my beliefs and attitudes about money management. Years of listening to experts warning about the dangers of excessive debt, frivolous spending and living beyond one’s means made me an extremely cautious financial manager at home.

Unfortunately, I brought that attitude to work with me every day, and it played out in every decision I made, even to my own detriment. When travelling on “company money” I would make even more sacrifices than I would make on my personal travels to save the company pennies. It was as though I always wanted to be ready to answer the question “would you spend your own money this way” with a resounding “yes sir”. Although I was allotted a per diem for three reasonably priced meals per day, I would eat one large meal late in the day so I would not have to spend the entire per diem.  When travelling the threatening roads of the Canadian Rockies in the dead of winter, I would still rent the cheapest compact car that would shake in the wind of every passing transport truck.

I feared taking financial risks such as making early investments in research and development activities. I could not see the situation clearly. Any money I might have saved with my parsimony was very likely dwarfed by the money that could have been generated later with these investments. In due course, I learned my lesson: the company’s money is not my money, so you should approach it with a different mindset. There is always room for your principles, but you will need to stretch beyond yourself for the good of the company and your peers.

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