Keeping an event on budget is one of those tasks that seems insurmountable. The price of something will go up, you’ll encounter an unexpected (and costly) glitch, or you will simply have something crop up that you weren’t planning for in your budget. Whether this is your first event or you’ve planned several in the past, figuring out how to maintain an effective budget is vital if you want your event to be a success.

Ways to Maintain Effective Budget

Pad Your Estimates

SmartBiz recommends planning to spend 10% more in budget categories than the year before. Since the cost of food, especially, tends to increase over time, this is a smart strategy. Even if the caterer comes in under your estimate, you’ll have a little flex room for food emergencies or even other situations that require premium prices to get the job done with short notice.

Know Your Categories

Figuring out which categories belong in your budget and giving each a number is vital. However, you shouldn’t just shoot in the dark and guess. Either take the time to make phone calls to venues, caterers and others, or base your estimates on last year’s figures plus 10%.

Save Money Where You Can

Since there are some expenses you can’t foresee, you can make up for this both through the padding as mentioned above and by getting discounts wherever you can. For example, ask vendors to give you a discount if you pay in cash. If there is a problem with the meeting space, approach the event planner at the venue and ask if they can discount your rate to make up for the problem.

Set Up a Contingency Budget

Experienced event planners know that there will be a contingency that requires extra money at nearly every event. The keynote speaker gets stranded in Chicago because of a snow storm. Your event is in Orlando. You either have to pay for another speaker or perhaps pay for the keynote to rent a car and drive to the event.

As a rule of thumb, setting aside 10-15% of the overall budget is a good idea. So, if your event budget is $20,000, set aside and additional $2000-$3000 just for emergencies. Use this money with discretion. If you don’t need to use it, it can be rolled into next year’s contingency budget.

Create Checkpoints for Those Spending

You can’t do everything yourself. There are some tasks that you simply must delegate in order to get everything done in time. Unfortunately, this means turning some of the spending over to third parties. Not everyone is going to take the time to look for the best deal or stay within budget. That is why it is important to set up some firm guidelines and checkpoints for those in charge of any type of spending.

Stress that the event has to stay within budget. Give each category volunteer a firm number and what all has to be purchased. For example, if you put someone in charge of centerpieces, explain that you have only $1200 for centerpieces for everything and that you want the focus to be on special events only. Then, define those events, such as the awards dinner with keynote speaker being vital, so spend the most there, but that you also want smaller centerpieces for the welcome banquet.

Then, check in with all of your leaders about once a month to see where they are with spending. You may find that some categories have money left in the budget that you can move to categories that are a bit short of cash due to unexpected expenses.

The Key to Staying in Budget

The key to staying within your event budget is to oversee what is being spent in each category. A simple Excel spreadsheet makes it easy to see what everyone is spending at a glance. If you can stay in budget, not only will you be prepared for the truly unexpected expense that crops up, but you’ll be able to handle a catastrophe should one occur.

Topic you might be interested in: Keeping on Task – Completing Event Tasks