Basic Principles of an Effective Budget

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on February 28, 2023

Preparing a company's budget forces managers to look ahead and analyze the various interrelationships within the business.

It requires the entire management team to work together to carry out the organization's plans.

Comparing actual performance with budgeted performance can help to summarize the investigation of differences within a company, which serves as feedback for future planning and control.

Some Basic Principles of an Effective Budget Are Discussed Below:

  • Preparation of a budget forces top management to set long-term goals. Also, it is necessary to name the managers who are responsible for achieving these goals.

    Once established, the goals serve as a benchmark to evaluate managerial performance.

  • A budget's success or failure is mainly determined by how well the human aspects of the process are handled. The budget can force the coordination of activity within an organization.

    Top management must communicate the importance of the budget timetable to all stakeholders, ensuring that coordination from all sections of the business is forthcoming.

  • Budgets are important guides to the actions of management. However, they should always be treated as guides—not as absolute truths.

    After all, since budgets are finalized weeks or months in advance, unexpected changes may take place.

    A manager should not ignore changes in the business environment. A procedure for considering these changes and their effect on budgeting should be worked out as part of the budget implementation.

  • The economic use of money is facilitated through the process of budgeting.

    Budgets are prepared almost a year in advance and a timetable with deadlines is also set for all levels and parts of the year's operating plans.

    All people in an organization become conscious of the need to conserve business resources, which promotes the efficient use of resources.

  • Budgetary control and planning work hand-in-hand in any good management system.

If planning is unsatisfactory, the plan should be corrected; if the plan is satisfactory but performance can be improved, steps are taken to bring future performance in line with the plan.

This system of feedback for future planning and control can lead to a better organization since—theoretically in the budget—everything that needs to be done is being done.

What Does a Budget Look Like?

A budget is a financial plan of action. It does not have a standard form unlike a formal income statement or the balance sheet.

A budget should not contain either too much information or too little information. Too much information clouds the meaning and accuracy of the data while too little information may result in overspending.

Hence, a budget should contain enough information presented in an orderly manner that is properly communicated to the user.

The information should be as accurate and meaningful as possible to the user of the budget.

Basic Principles of an Effective Budget FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.