by Don Knight, WEG Member
A more expansive definition is: Cash flow is the net amount of cash that an entity receives and disburses during a period of time. A positive level of cash flow must be maintained long term for an entity to remain in business. Cash flow is usually tracked in a standard reporting period, such as a month, quarter, or year.
Whether consciously or not, we all practice Cash Flow planning. We know that our income may come from a variety of sources, such as Social Security, employment , investments or other places, and we usually know about how much we have available to spend every month. Likewise we know what bills will likely come due in the month. There are recurring monthly bills such as water and electricity as well as bills that may come on a quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis. These may be insurance premiums, quarterly tax payments and property taxes.
The amount of money one has does not alleviate the need to plan ahead. We have all seen or heard of someone who has won a very large lottery prize, taken it as a lump sum, and two or three years later has to file for bankruptcy protection. This is where a Projected Cash Flow Report comes in.
A business, such as Woodburn Estates and Golf, uses a Projected Cash Flow Report to plan for revenues and expenditures in the future. Because they have prepared a budget, the Accounting Department has a fairly good idea what income and expenses can be expected for each month and for the year, and what the projected cash flow report should contain. As we all know, life happens and an unexpected expense can occur. If an unexpected bill comes in and isn’t due until the following month, it should be included in the report. If several of these come in over the course of the year, it can have a significant impact upon on the actual flow of the business, especially if they come late in the year.
The budget review committee reviews the monthly and year to date actual results and compares these to the budget and the Projected Cash Flow report. As they find any possible new expenditures not budgeted for, they may make recommendations to the Board of Directors to make adjustments to the budget so as to ensure we have the cash available to pay our bills in a timely manner and keep us fiscally sound.