Free Cash Flow Planning, Budgeting And Management For Freelance And Small Companies
Control future changes in your company's liquidity, reduce costs and optimize sales with the cash flow template. At a glance you have a realistic view, monthly or annual, to understand future sales volumes and whether the capital will be sufficient to cope with financial uncertainties.
Creating a cash flow forecast with Banana Accounting is like creating it with Excel, but faster, more secure and completely free. Thanks to the ready-to-use template, you start right away, just enter the data.
You know in advance how much liquidity you have and how long it will last, when and what expenses you will face and what income you can count on. You can simulate the reduction of expenses and see what effect it has on your liquidity and profitability, understand future sales volumes and whether your capital will be enough.
We have prepared this guide to help you make your cash flow forecast and solve your financial problems. If you follow it in detail you will succeed, because you can always modify and correct it, so it's easy to update your forecasts.
Create your file
- Create a new file, starting from this template (Template ID +11044), using one of the methods explained.
- With the command File → File properties sets the period, the company name and the basic currency.
- With the command File → Save as save the file. It is useful to enter the company name and year in the file name.
For example "company-2020.ac2".
Adapt accounts and categories tables
Before creating your own cash flow, you need to quickly adapt your account and categories to your specific needs.
The Accounts table only shows the Cash account, or rather, the liquidity in your possession. You can customize it by changing the account name, description and opening balance.
This table contains the income and expense categories and the change in capital. You can edit these categories by adding new items, changing the category name, changing the order and deleting categories that you don’t need. At any time, you can see the updated balances of each category.
With the useful Capital In & Capital Out sections you can register:
- Loan injections and reimbursements
- Owners injections and disbursements
- Sales and purchases of fixed assets
To know at any time how much the current cash flow will be (when you will start to entering daily transactions), you only have to look at the value in the row "Net Cash Change". In this way you will know at a glance if you are having an Inflow or an Outflow and the exact amount.
Create your cash flow forecast
The interesting innovation of Banana Accounting is the possibility to create cash flow forecasts to control liquidity and make timely decisions for your business.
For this reason, we now recommend that you create your own cash flow forecast. Go to the Budget table: this table contains all the cash inflows and outflows that you will have during the year.
To create the forecast correctly, follow these simple steps:
- Insert operating income
- Insert operating expenses
- Insert capital in
- Insert capital out
Insert operating income
Start by listing all the operating income you have and the amount of it. Cash sales is the main income, but there are others depending on your activity.
Operating Income may include:
- Cash sales
- Miscellaneous cash receipts
- Collections from customer credit accounts
To insert a transaction in the budget you must enter the date (when you expect to have that income), the end date (if needed), the repetition (how often this income is repeated, if weekly, monthly or annual), the description, the amount in the income column and the income category.
In the template you will already find typical ready transactions where you can quickly enter only the amounts. You can still insert new transactions, edit and delete them.
To be as precise as possible with the estimate, look at last year’s values, rounding down the amount when you want to be more cautious.
- Only rely on assured income
- Group the income according to their repetition (weekly, monthly, annual, …)
Insert operating expenses
Now it’s time to list all the operating costs. As you did for the income, here you have to estimate expenses by looking at last year’s values, but rounding up the amounts when you want to be more cautious. It’s always better to make an inaccurate forecast at the beginning of the year, than to have surprises of higher expenses.
Operating costs may include:
- Advertising and promotion
- Bank charges
- Group the expenses according to their repetition (weekly, monthly, annual, …)
Insert capital in & out
This section is very useful to have a net cash flow forecast and not just an operational one. You must then enter the expected capital in and out transactions, the investments and disinvestments in fixed assets.
Capital In may include:
- Loan injections
- Cash injections by owners
- Sales of fixed assets
Capital Out may include:
- Loan reimbursements
- Cash disbursements to owners
- Purchases of fixed assets
Control your cash flow forecast
It’s important to know right away whether your business, thanks to your estimates, generates a positive cash flow or not. Are you curious, aren’t you? The generation of the forecast report will give you the answer!
A goal of any activity is certainly to have a positive cash flow, because only this allows it to survive, or rather to pay suppliers, reimburse debts, ... Check the Net cash change item (at the bottom of the report) and make sure that you have a positive result (Inflow). If so, you can be happy, because you are managing your business well!
On the other hand, if you have a negative net cash flow (Outflow), it means that unfortunately your business has difficulties to manage liquidity. What you need to do in this case is first of all to recheck well both your estimated income and expenses, if there are any adjustments to be made or errors to be corrected, that improve the cash flow. If you still have a negative cash flow, you need to think about actions to be taken to improve liquidity management from next year or when the forecast period starts. Most likely you will have to try to reduce your operating expenses.
In addition to the annual forecast, always in Reports → Enhanced statement with groups, to have even more detailed control over the liquidity trend (for example how it behaves during the year), you can choose monthly, quarterly and 4-years reports, or create your own report.
Enter the transactions
With the cash flow forecast under control, you can start register the various real liquidity transactions and compare them from time to time with the expected values.
Insert the liquidity transactions
Daily transactions must be inserted in the Transactions table. Making a registration is the same process as you did for the forecast in the budget table (the only difference is you don’t have the repeat column). There are also some examples in the table that you can delete and edit.
Check the movements with account cards
When you gradually enter your transactions, could be useful to check how the cash account or a particular expense category has evolved over time. To do this you can view the respective Account/Category Card.
For example, by selecting the Cash account card you will have a summary of all its movements. By also clicking on the chart option at the bottom, you have an even more immediate view of the account's performance.
Tip: Check your Cash account at least once a month to see immediately how it is progressing and compare it with past months.
Check the difference between balance and budget
For more control over your performance, you can go to the Account or Categories table, selecting the Budget view and look at the Diff.Budget column, which shows you the difference between the real balances and the values you had budgeted. In this way you have an additional indicator to understand if you are following the budget well and to take better decisions.
Compare the forecast with the report
During the year you can compare at any time your current situation with the forecast, to understand if and where you are spending more, in order to take decisions in advance. At the end of the year you can make the final comparison between the actual report and the forecast to see if you have achieved the expected net cash flow.
Create the control report from the menu Reports → Enhanced statement with groups → Yearly report compared to forecast.
If you want to have a more precise and targeted view, you can create reports with monthly subdivision, which also include the difference between the balance and budget value of each month. This gives you an overview of the months in which you had the most liquidity difficulties and those in which you earned the most.
You are arrived at the end of the year, so you will now have to re-plan the next one creating a new cash flow forecast, exactly as you have done up to now. Don't stop, only in this way will you see your cash flow improve more and more!