Your business has a story to tell. And one of the ways to hear your business’s story is by reading through comparative financial statements.
The importance of comparative financial statements
An up-to-date balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows are essential financial reports you should consistently analyze. But these financial statements by themselves don’t tell the whole story about your business. Consider the following:
- Company XYZ: The most current balance sheet shows $1 million in liquid assets with zero liabilities.
- Company ABC: The most current income statement has a net profit margin of 35%.
- Company 123: The statement of cash flows shows that the company has consistently brought in more cash than it has spent over the past three years.
And here’s the rest of the story:
- Company XYZ: Liquid assets decreased from $5 million to $1 million over the past 12 months.
- Company ABC: Net profit margin is typically around 20% for this company. However, a recent round of layoffs temporarily pushed total salaries and wages lower, while pushing the net profit margin much higher.
- Company 123: There has been a steady decline in positive cash flow over the past three years.
These examples show the importance of analyzing your financial statements in comparison with something else. Reading through the first list of bullet points only tells part of the story.
What you can do
Here are several types of comparative financial statements you can create for your business and some tips for getting the most out of these reports.
- Current period vs. Prior period. Compare this month to the same month one year prior (October 2021 vs. October 2020) or compare by year (2021 Year-to-Date vs. 2020 Year-to-Date).
- Current period vs. Current period forecast. This is known as a variance analysis. You compare what you think was going to occur during a particular period to what actually happened. This report can also be done either by month [October 2021 (actual) vs. October 2021 (forecast)] or by year [2021 Year-to-Date (actual) vs. 2021 Year-to-Date (forecast)]
- Use both absolute figure and percentages. Percentages allow you to quickly see the degree of change between the two periods that are being compared. Here’s an example of what this could look like:
- Ask for help! Please contact your financial advisor or accountant if you would like help creating or analyzing comparative financial statements for your business.
Tips on how to be thankful
It costs nothing to say thank you. Yet cultivating gratitude in your life may be one of the most rewarding moves you can make. Not only does it invoke warm fuzzies in everyone involved, expressing your appreciation may actually improve your health and well-being.
A landmark study by gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons has shown that gratitude can reduce physical illness symptoms and toxic emotions. It can even help you sleep better and longer, according to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
So what are some ways you can make gratitude part of your everyday life? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Write it out. Write out what you’re thankful for in your life. This may mean making a nightly habit of writing in a journal or jotting down a message to a loved one and giving it to them. You could also make some sticky note reminders of what you’re grateful for and hang them on your mirror to read each morning.
- Share a good memory. Reminiscing often stirs up feelings of gratitude. For instance, think about the time you first met a close friend in grade school. Contact them and tell them how grateful you are that it happened. Send a photo of that family vacation when you all shared a common experience like learning to water ski. When you think about it, you will quickly discover happy memories to share with loved ones.
- Offer your service. Show your gratitude through your actions. If you appreciate your community, join a group to clean up the park and streets. Provide a positive online review for your favorite local café. Or volunteer at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
- Lend an ear. Some of the most meaningful moments involve simply being heard. Return the favor. If your sister is usually the one who lets you ramble on about work grievances and family drama, it’s time to give her a turn. Let her know you’re there and ready to listen. Maybe you avoid your chatty (albeit helpful) coworker. When you see them next, give them 5 minutes of your time.
- Pay it forward. Did your neighbor share a gutter-cleaning hack with you? Next time you see someone on your street cleaning their gutters, offer to lend a hand. See a mom digging for spare change at a check out register? Pay it for her. Let the appreciation of your good deed change someone else’s outlook for the day. When they offer to pay you back, just tell them to pay it forward.
There are opportunities to cultivate gratitude all around us. Refocusing on what you appreciate on regular basis can help you live a healthier, more satisfying life.
One of the most common reasons businesses fail is due to lack of understanding of cash flow. The same can be said about your household’s personal financial statement. So what is this cash flow concept, how does it apply to you, and what are some ways to improve yours? In Part 1 of this two-part article, we’ll explain what cash flow is and how to determine your cash flow.
Cash flow defined
Cash flow equals cash coming in (wages, interest, social security benefits) and subtracting the bills you pay. Unfortunately, calculating cash flow is never that easy. Some bills are due weekly, others monthly. Some large bills come quarterly, or annually. Understanding this flow of cash is the first step in knowing how to improve yours.
Create your cash flow snapshot
Before improving your cash flow, you need to be able to see it. There are many online tools to create a map, but you can also take a snapshot of your cash flow using a monthly spreadsheet.
- Put each month across the top of the spreadsheet with an annual total.
- Note all your revenue and corresponding expense descriptions in the left-hand column.
- Enter your income and bills by month. Create a monthly subtotal of all your inflows. Do the same for your expenses or cash outflows. Then subtract the expenses from income. Positive numbers? You have positive cash flow. Negative numbers? You have negative cash flow.
- Create a cumulative total for the year to see which months will need additional funds and which months will have excess funds.
Check out Part 2 where we list various ways to improve your cash flow!