Nine budgeting ideas for the start-up entrepreneur

One of the hardest issues for me when becoming an entrepreneur at 40 was that I had been used to a certain lifestyle that included holidays, lunch and dinner at restaurants, not knowing how much milk costs, buying healthy food, going to concerts and movies for fun. All of my close friends are employed and have a career. I hardly know anybody who lives like me here in Zurich, Switzerland (among the Top 5 most expensive cities in the world).

Counting the cash
Living in Zurich can be tough when you are starting out…

I admit that I still live in an overpriced apartment and have big car (which I do not really need) but I had to learn as an entrepreneur to spend a lot less money than I used to and I am still working on this exercise. As you might face similar challenges (or you wonder how you will get through the initial low earning first three years) I thought I’d share my practices to remind me of my real situation.

1) Carry very little money with you when you go to town. Leave your credit card at home. Use your credit card only for emergencies or online bargains. Have enough money to buy a cup of coffee (max 10 CHF).

2) Call a friend for coffee instead of dinner and hope that they will ask you to come to their house. Invite friends to your house for a glass of wine.

3) If you reach a milestone such as two years in the business celebrate yourself at home. Cook a nice meal and buy healthy food.

4) Pay small amounts at the grocery store with your bankcard so you see exactly what you spent your money for. When you go out for drinks or fun only carry cash and when you are out of cash return home. That’s especially important when you tend to buy expensive drinks at 15 CHF. (Imagine how long you work for one drink!)

5) Budget all your spending especially your holidays or how much money you spend on clothes, makeup, sunglasses and shoes.

6) Strictly separate business from private spending but try to optimize your private spending by using legal options to deduct costs for a home office, laptops, phone, Internet connection and cleaning services.

7) Avoid television and exposure to advertising. You feel a lot less like spending money on crap that you don’t need.

8) Avoid impulse buying decisions by adding all potential buys (books, seminars, travels) to wish lists. I even have a wish book. A lot of my wishes do not appear so important after a few weeks. Others just materialize themselves.

9) Love your business plan. Add anything you will earn right when you have the confirmation. Stay on the careful side but motivate yourself by adding all future turnover and checking the total annual turnover regularly.


I cannot say that I have worked it all out but my spending was a lot higher. I cut it approximately by half this way. Keeping the wish lists and wish book makes me more appreciative of the stuff and holidays I eventually pay for. Since I work on my own I appreciate the luxury in my life a lot more than when I was in the corporate world.


How do you survive as a startup entrepreneur? Where do you save and what do you value?

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3 thoughts on “Nine budgeting ideas for the start-up entrepreneur

  1. Very nice article, carrying cash only is a serious game changer. I’ve also endured one year on my own, and I never calculated total annual turn over. I am keeping an excel sheet of expenses in which I write down major expenses like smart phones and internet bills, will calculate annual turn over on regular basis as well its a good idea.

    • Thank you Naeem Akram Malik. I use xls too and compare business year to business year. It can be motivating when you update your turnover every time a new mandate is won. Keep it up!

  2. Pingback: Seven Cash Flow Habits for Solopreneurs - Global People Transitions GmbHGlobal People Transitions GmbH

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