No one wants to talk about this unless it's to dream up the "unlimited budget" a runaway bestseller might bring about. Then it's a favorite topic.

We're going to take a look at receipts first, since that's one of the best places to start. Do you know where your receipts are for what you've spent so far? Good! You'll need them in a little bit. No? If you haven't spent anything yet, that's ok. If you have, but don't know where your receipts are, that's not ok.

You might not want to go hunting right now, but do create a system for yourself, even if it's only a big manila envelope with RECEIPTS written on the outside. Every time you spend a dime, put the receipt there. You'll need them later.

You've seen the organization I have on this site - and what you are actually getting a peek at is my pc organization and my attitude toward writing.

Let me say this bluntly: I am a messy person. I tend to drop clothes and not pick them up, fix dinner and leave food out, drive the car and never put gas in it... etc. My dear husband is a godsend in that he picks up after me and is my shepherd in all things that count. I'm one of those creative types who is top notch at some aspects of life and totally incapable with others. Money is one of my denser spots.

However, this writing thing is *my baby* and that has forced me to make tangibles a priority. When you want something badly enough you will find a way to get it, do it, be it, have it, or make it. Hence, I now understand budgeting. It was a miracle, to be sure, but it happened. You can do it, too.

DEFINITION: A budget is what enables you to use the income your writing generates to create more income. Hey, that's not such a bad concept, right? If you are always spending more than you make, then you will never be able to take it easy and enjoy your labor. Simple statement - heavy truth. Here's a little poem that expresses it well.

If your outgo
Exceeds your income
Then you upkeep
Will be your downfall
I wish I could take credit for thinking up this next bit, but it was taught to me by someone wiser and richer. Please take your receipts out sometime between tonight and the next lesson and label each of them with one of these categories:

  • Business - Paper, ink, software, shipping
  • Networking - clubs, fees, group charges, memberships
  • Marketing - ads, promo material
  • Web - website fee, domain purchase, DSL, web design
  • Development - books, classes, conferences, seminars
I belong to a coalition of authors whose purpose is to join together to pool resources so we can buy advertising. Although I don't pay dues, I do "buy in" to certain advertisements which allow me to be featured on the group website. Since about 38% of hits on my website come from here, it's a significant source for me.

Do I count that under networking? Advertisement? Web? Marketing? A little of all four? The answer is that it depends on where the money will go (convention, promo material, advertisement, etc). You may need to give this some thought. The key here is to have the **overall** category. Later, we'll break each one down.

How far do you want to go back? Since you won't be turning this in for "credit", pick a date. We're halfway through the year, so why not 1/1/7? Or use 2006, if you have a solid year of data available.

Believe me, this is enough for one night. Tomorrow, we'll give this info a closer look and I'll walk you thru how to use this data to set up a budget over the next two days.

Ok, now go ahead and smile. The number part is over for right now. Time for words again. See? I'm a writer. I understand.