Aline called me one day and said, I know you work with something in numbers, but what do you do? Over the weekend, Lisa asked me the same thing. Even my parents have no idea what I do.
Please do not ask me how I fell into budgets because I graduated in Finance, but never really worked a day in it until now. Eric told me that my personality does not fit the role of a budget analyst. This is very true, my team will be the first to admit that I am definitely different. My boss actually told me one day that it must be so difficult to be me and try to communicate with the team. My team uses me to address difficult situations because I can handle emotions a lot better and calm angry customers down, redesigning the internal website, building new programs, making Excel sheets look pretty, writing polices, and things that are not numbers-only related things like party planning or putting together happy hour events.
Most budget analysts like accountants are Type A personalities, their Meyer’s Briggs tends to be an INTJ or INSJ and if you follow the Color Code, a majority are Blue with a secondary color of Red, which is my entire team except me and one other person. Blue-Red means you are extremely detail oriented and more aggressive and wants to lead. I am a Yellow-Red, which means I am very friendly, social, but I can gather a crowd when needed.
What I will say is that being in budgets is extremely tiring. What do budget people do? It sort of depends, but think about it like this. Everything that could be bought from paperclips, pens, security guards, print requests, and approval to travel goes through our office and we review and certify each and every one. Our signature holds us liable for every single transaction that goes through our shop. YES…being in budget has a lot more responsibility that I ever thought and being a grown-up stinks too. Many times, I see how much money I handle and wish I could have even a small portion and travel the world!
In my marketing days, I found myself using certain buzz words that no one else but those in the field would understand aka…ROI, click-thru rate, audience captured, going-forward, sentiment, etc…
Now in the budgets, this is how I roll through life:
- Life is measured in quarters—4 to be exact and the whale sharks only come to Cancun during 4th quarter. I have asked them to change their migration pattern to any other quarter, please.
- Fiscal year— When people talk about dates, I always have to ask fiscal or calendar year? Fiscal year starts Oct 1-Sept 30. Do not ask me why?
- Presentation is not a strength—Most budget people just crunch numbers, they don’t really care how it looks. BORING, I make all mine pretty because it’s how you sell a surplus or more importantly a deficit. Look, we’re only $5 Million in debt, BUT if we did not save money on XY&Z, we would have been $7 Million. Always look at the glass half full.
- Robots. Feelings and emotions are not really a strong suit in their case.
- Sept 30 is doom’s day. This is like tax day for accountants. We have to fix all mistakes ever found for the entire year, close out remaining funds, if we have additional funding that we can put towards the new fiscal year, we move money around.
- Please do not say the word audit. EVER.
- Deobligate. What is this? Everyone in the budget world uses it, but no one else knows it. It’s reducing funding, so technically a fancy term of saving money.
- Excel. LOVE IT! — Macros…even sexier.
- Red=Bad. When we see anything highlighted in RED, it means a deficit and it makes us budget people panic.
- Pennies no, thousands yes. Accountants count down to the pennies. Budget people project, so if we end the year a few $100 K’s above or below our projections, we are proud of it.
- Funding pots. Until I moved here, I never understood funding pots. Congress allocates money to certain programs to spend. So how much you have in your budget is determined by what your program needs and what value Congress feels like it has.
- No is our favorite word. If we can say No, expect it. If we feel that you don’t need that new headset, the ergonomic chair, don’t ask again. We should have an Easy Button that says NO. We would use it so much; the battery would die in a few days.
Welcome to my life and the fortune teller told me I’ll be in this role for the rest of my career.