Five Questions for a Smaller Budget

New fiscal years bring new budgets. If your new year brought increased costs, increased responsibility, and a smaller overall dollar figure, what do you do (after rolling your eyes, throwing up your hands, and sitting back down)?

Before spending a dime (because it may be 50 percent of that new budget), here are five questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1. Where’s the worst dollar? What program, service or product are you buying with little to no return? How can you eliminate, reduce, or redirect this spending?
  2. Where’s the best dollar? We’ve all seen the figures that safety investments return $4-6 for every $1 spent. Is it true in your organization? Where are you seeing similar outsized returns?
  3. What if it doubled? If your budget doubled tomorrow, what’s your plan? What projects would you take on? What hazards would you tackle? What losses would you prevent?
  4. What if it halved? If that manager (you know the one) cut your budget by 50 percent, what would go first? Second? What would be the last thing to go (and thus your highest priority)?
  5. What are you building? With your current budget, what are you investing in for next year? Are you only buying fuel to keep the engine running or are you investing in performance parts to build efficiency and effectiveness? What will next year’s you look back on and thank the current you for?

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau


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