Mysteries of the Budget

Layout 1There are two budget mysteries I’ve never been able to solve.

First, why is the Amish newspaper called “The Budget?” I’ve never seen another paper called that. We have gazettes, registers and criers. But, there’s no other “budget.”

For that matter, The Budget stands alone in content as well as name. It’s written by its readers. Amish “scribes” from all over the country send in letters describing what’s happening in their towns and villages. “Jonas visited from Indiana” and “Mary had her twins” could both be headlines in this unusual paper. If you want to know what’s happening in Amish Land, this is the paper to read.

paper pileMy other budget mystery is setting a financial budget that works for Lehman’s in 2013. We believe that having a carefully thought through plan for each year is important. Setting a budget is like writing a plan in financial terms. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! For example, we want to answer calls with “real people,” not with a recorded greeting. To support that, we try to make sure we have budgeted the money for enough trained customer service people.

Even our employees have caught the “budget planning bug”. After hearing me talk about our corporate budget and how it was essential for our financial health, several took up the call for their home finances.

One told me, “I never make a major purchase now without planning for it first.” He said that as a result he has no credit card debt (for the first time in his life)!

We credit our careful and conservative budget plan with having helped us survive the recession. And, we believe strongly in the power of a good plan.

Here are two of the things we budgeted for in 2012:

  • An increase in pay for high-performing employees. We want to honor their work and make sure they are happy here.
  • A more powerful and accurate computer system. When it comes online, it will help improve the accuracy of our website information. (As a “non-electric” sort of guy, this last item really rubbed me the wrong way. Improving customer service was the best reason to make that investment.)

We’re working on finalizing our 2013 budget. We expect health insurance expenses to rise. We also know that many of our employees deserve raises. As for equipment, one of our service trucks is 15 years old. There are several computers that need to be replaced. Our parking lot needs some repairs.

Of course, we can’t afford to do everything we want to do. And, it’s really hard to know which things are most important. So, I’d like to ask your advice! Are there things about Lehman’s we should change or improve? What do you think we should budget for in 2013?

You can replying by commenting publicly, or by emailing, or by messaging me privately through Facebook (see link below). When you reply, think about our budget in terms of our goals, which are to provide amazing customer service, take care of our employees and build a healthy and sustainable business.

And, if you’d like help setting your own household budget, check out our book, The Tightwad Gazette.
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s

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The local (Wayne County edition) of The Budget is here:

Galen Lehman

About Galen Lehman

Lehman's CEO and son of founder Jay Lehman. Homesteads on five acres. Believes in a Simpler Life...rewarding relationships, fresh, local (preferably homegown) food and the gratification of hard work. Plant a tree!