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Entertainment Series: Tracking and controlling expenses

To stay on budget - and protect your margin - you need to track and control expenses. Unfortunately, it sounds easier than it often is.

There are lots of expenses that are easy to track - you probably have a stack of invoices to prove it. But, in entertainment, there are a lot of purchases and payments made in cash, which is much harder to track and verify.

To deal with the cash problem you can do a few things. First, and most expensive, is to hire an account. This professional will be on location with you and will be in charge of all the financials, like petty cash and sales, and reconciliation. Second, you can use an accounting software package and track the expenses yourself (or designate someone you trust to be responsible for it). This can be time consuming and you need to stay on top of it, but you will have a thorough understanding of where every penny is going. Third, you can use a controllable corporate card. Whether you use credit or prepaid, like the PEX Visa Prepaid Card, it doesn't really matter. What you'll want to look for is a card that allows you to control how employees spend money - by merchant category and amount. The fastest way to implement changes is via an internet interface, so look for a company that is able to give you real-time capabilities - for making changes to an individual's spending rules or reporting.

Once you know what you're spending and how that aligns with your budget, you'll know where you need to start controlling expenses. Maybe it's catering, maybe it's your PAs, or maybe something else. Each situation is different, so we can't spell it all out here, but think of a few ways you can try to rein-in these expenses. For catering maybe you can cut back on name brand sodas. For fuel, maybe you can get a lower grade. The most important thing is to make sure you recoup the excess funds from any petty cash purchase. You already know this, but that's where of lot of the slippage will be.

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