Budget vs Forecast: Key Differences to Know

budget vs projection

When overestimating income, individuals and businesses may find themselves in a precarious financial situation. It is essential to consider factors such as market conditions, customer demand, and potential risks that could affect income generation. By conducting thorough research and analysis, one can make more accurate income projections. By adjusting your budget projections for inflation and market changes, you can make more informed financial decisions and have a clearer understanding of your future financial situation. When identifying your financial goals, it is essential to be specific and realistic.

budget vs projection

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. Operating a business without a financial forecast is similar to setting out on a journey with a planned route and destination (budget), and not bothering to look where you are going or what obstacles lie ahead. For example, if the business says that it is aiming for 5% sales growth, this is a target, it is a statement of fact. The business can produce the financial budget based on this target and it does not necessarily have to assess the uncertainties that might prevent it from achieving the target. When estimating your income, consider any potential changes that may occur in the future.


There’s no correct way to budget — what works for one person might not work for another. Consider the past trends from prior years and use those trends for the allocated amounts would be another, more accurate strategy. The budget itself serves as the model’s foundation because the budgeted amounts are the results of the forecast. For those working from history, you can predict with some certainty what your fixed expenses are, such as your rent or mortgage, along with recurring expenses such as utilities and payroll. Financial projections can be used in a variety of ways, but they’re usually used to attract investors or when applying for a bank loan or line of credit.

budget vs projection

The budget prediction is used to try and forecast how the budget will turn out if followed precisely. The cash flow statement shows how money is being spent, a must for those looking to attract an investor or obtain financing. If you’re in the planning stages, producing a possible income statement demonstrates that you’ve done your research and have created a good-faith estimate of your income for the next three years. An income statement provides a view of the net income of your business after things such as cost of goods sold, taxes, and other expenses have been subtracted. For those of you in the planning stages, create a balance sheet based on the information you have collected from industry research.

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There are a few ways to do this, one of which is straight-line, where revenue is distributed equally across each predicted time. It can give you, for example, an idea of whether your company will have enough money to cover its expenses and debts and how much profit it might make. The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates budget vs projection and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. This can give you a good idea of how your business is currently performing as well as serve as the basis for estimating net income for the next one to three years.

  • But they do have subtle differences that matter — especially if you’re a publicly-traded company that has to comply with financial standards.
  • When identifying your financial goals, it is essential to be specific and realistic.
  • Consider the past trends from prior years and use those trends for the allocated amounts would be another, more accurate strategy.
  • Although budgeting and financial forecasting are often used together, distinct differences exist between the two concepts.

However, variable expenses, such as maintenance costs, marketing expenses, and employee benefits, can fluctuate and should be carefully estimated. Projections, in contrast, may address either short-term or long-term scenarios. While budgeting and forecasting are used interchangeably, especially in small business circles, they are not the same. Your budget would help you manage business expenses, while forecasting gives you a good idea of your high-level business goals and the steps you should take to achieve them. Before creating a financial budget, you could find it challenging to visualize your revenue plans and business expenses. However, as you prepare a detailed financial outline, you know what is achievable.