Cutting the Fat: Business Expenses

Cutting FatLast week my friend, Curtis McHale, wrote a newsletter about reviewing recurring business expenses to keep overhead low. After a hectic week when it hit my inbox, I finally got around to reading it and it kicked my butt into making a bunch of changes with more to follow. It was simply time to start cutting the fat from my outgo.

who’s first?

The first casualty was Audible, which I use nearly daily on my phone. I had the 2 credits/mo plan for $22.95 and have quite a backlog and had 6 credits available. Just in case the price goes up or they change things soon, I placed it on hold for 90 days. If I am caught up on books by then (after getting 6 more, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy), then I can resume it or alter my plan. Savings: $275/yr.

The next one was much rougher, but something I’d been mulling over for many, many, many months. Such a long breakup just made the financial decision all the more obvious and, looking in hindsight, the delay was not very smart. I signed up for Scribe SEO very soon after it was released for 300 inspections/mo for $27/mo, which is no longer an offered plan. That was the sole reason I have held onto my license for over 18 months now and I just realized that alone was not a good reason to keep paying $27/mo. I barely use it because I know enough about SEO to not rely on it and I have been using WordPress SEO for many months with clients who can’t pay $97/mo for Scribe. Savings:  $324/yr

what’s next?

My next move is using a trial period of a new client invoicing system to shave some more fat off. I’ve used Freshbooks since before I was full-time running my business, but they charge more to keep adding clients using the grandfathered plan I have now or else switch plans and pay $29.95/mo. Right now I’m paying $24/mo.

Curtis’ e-mail pushed me to look at other solutions, so I signed up for Ballpark using a 30-day trial and really like what I see, especially for $12.99/mo. I imported all of my Freshbooks clients, invoices, and estimates and all appears to be great. You can use offer code JESSEPETERSEN for 10% off your paid account if you like it after your trial. I don’t really see any downside to switching other than losing my historical reporting and my wife learning a new system to do our finances. Potential savings: $132/yr.

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  1. says

    I’d be really interested to hear WHY you went with Ballpark and a recap about how it’s working in a few weeks.

    What were the specific features that made Ballpark win your business?

    • says

      Well, my wife still has a lot of say in it and so far she would prefer I wait until January, but I think we might compromise on end-of-month.

      What I was looking for was to be able to export all of my existing data and bring it in without having to do a ton of work. Saving money isn’t saving money if I have to spend 20 hours massaging it. It imported all of my clients and invoices. What it didn’t handle was the reporting because the invoices weren’t generated by the system, so there’s a bit of something to overcome. If I can downgrade Freshbooks to free and still see all of my reports, I’m fine with that.

      What is missing in general is expenses. I still need to have a discussion with my wife on how important that is to her. Since she pulls from PayPal & Stripe and verifies with our account, it may not be an issue at all for her, but I would be an idiot husband to not check.

      Already I like that a recurring invoice can be selected to renew annually on a particular day without calculating the pro-rated days remaining in the year, which is one of my current biggest pains with new hosting invoices.

  2. SureFireWeb says

    Good stuff Jesse! I had to bootstrap a while ago and ended up cutting freschbooks and Scribe as well. Personally I wasn’t a fan of Scribe and Freshbooks was just getting too costly. I ended up finding a small company in NY called BillGrid. I think I mentioned them to you on twitter. They’ve been amazing.

    Then I stopped paying for WooCommerce, also getting very expensive. Now my main costs are hosting, paychex, and education. None of which I’m willing to part with, at least not yet =).

    I’m trying to avoid monthly costs unless I know I’m going to be getting something worth while from it, partly why I have no issues spending it on membership sites about business, copywriting, etc. =)

    • says

      I don’t have too many expenses and everything I pay for now is either important to get work done more efficiently, do jobs I couldn’t otherwise, or have a 100%+ ROI, like my hosting.

  3. Alison Foxall says

    This is something I need to look at for 2014. I’ve accumulated some expenses this year I probably can do without. This was a great reminder, Thanks Jesse!

    • says

      Glad to remind you. I’m still not done trimming fat. I just need to spend some time on things to reduce it more than that.

      I try to run a lean machine and I looked at PayPal one day and realized how much was still going out from monthly nickel and dime-ing. $20 here and there adds up every month of every year.