Christmas break is perfect for rest and relaxation, but it is also a great time to plan for your club’s spring events and activities. Part of the planning process is creating a budget, which often presents many challenges. Clubs over or under estimate the amount of money that they will need to have a successful semester.
Here are a few tips for making your semester a financial success:
1) Look at your club’s budget history. How has your club spent its money over the years? How much did each event/activity cost? What items have you purchased in the past that can be used again? (You can find you previous club budget requests in Student Activities)
2) Figure out what resources you already have. Once you have develop the events/activities/workshops you want to host next semester, it’s time to do the hard work. Check to see what resources your club/Student Activities/ CHC already has. The Student Activities Office has a large Club Resource Center, which may cut down on your costs and there are a lot of savvy faculty/staff members on campus who may be able to lead you to free resources.
3) Break down your costs. This part is where students often get stuck. If you are planning an arts and crafts night, do a mock shopping trip to figure out how much each item will cost. Going on a trip? Call your venue to see what group pricing looks like. Hosting a speaker? Call the vendor to learn about pricing? Purchasing tshirts? Develop a proof and send it to a tshirt company to get pricing deals. Basically, go through each event and determine what costs you will have. Once you’ve done that, pretend as though you are actually going to buy the item and jot down all of your prices to come up with a total. This takes a lot of work, but will be worth it in the end!
4) Create a spreadsheet. Sounds boring right? But in the end it will actually save you time and money! Once you have calculated your costs, create an Excel spreadsheet. Create three columns “Event/Item Name”, “Estimated Cost” and “Actual Cost.” Once you’ve created the columns input all of your event names and estimated costs. Sum the estimated costs and as you spend money input your actual costs and sum them. A spreadsheet will help you see where you spend your money and will help you stick to your budget. You can also pass it on to future club leadership so that they can use it as a reference. It’s a win-win for everyone!
5) Don’t be afraid of your budget. Sounds weird, but people often will push aside or avoid finances, because of previous bad experiences. Now is the time to take control of your club’s budget so that you can make the most of your time at CHC and truly make your mark on campus.
6) Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to talk about your budget with your advisor or Student Activities staff. SAO is here to help you make decisions, understand the budget process, and learn how to make the most of your budget.