One of the most challenging aspects of event planning is setting the budget. That’s because you need to find a way to balance your desires with your budget, being realistic and not losing profit and returns on investment. Nothing may be as challenging, but with careful planning and tracking, you can keep your client happy while sticking to a specific budget.

How to create an event budget

Be upfront with everything budget-related

When preparing to plan your event, consider in great detail how much money is needed to do what. When deciding on an event venue, for example, be honest about how much conference space will cost as opposed to a huge function hall.

Pay close attention to your needs and wants and come up with a realistic budget. You should also think critically about what is possible with a budget at hand. Do you need to make changes to cut costs? Make sure you have the right expectations.

The long and short of it is you should be honest with yourself about the costs to expect and what you really need for the event.

Categorize every element of event planning

In this digital age, you will find plenty of budgeting apps, tools, or spreadsheets that you can use to help you monitor and track your event budget. But unless you give every category a place, things could easily get disorganized. Some of the categories you can use are Item title, item description/details, assigned vendor, budgeted/projected amount, negotiated amount, actual amount or cost, payments, etc.

If more information needs to be included because your needs are more complex than usual, add more categories and details.

Keep track of the budget

Doing so is the best way to ensure that nothing goes over the budget. Every penny should be allocated to what matters most in event planning. But with everything else you need to think about, such as deciding on whether to use a conference space as an event venue, you can easily lose track of the budget.

The best solution is to use low-cost or free tools and apps that also come with budget management features. Some of them can monitor mileage or receipts, depending on what an event needs. Check out Planning Pod, Expensify, Shoeboxed, or Smartsheet and identify which one works best for your needs.

Make adjustments when necessary

Adjustments are part of the budgeting process, not just in event planning but nearly in everything else that involves setting a budget. So regardless of how much you stick to the budget, some surprises can still pop up, requiring you to make the necessary changes.

But you may not need to do something drastic if you provide a safety net for unexpected costs by creating a contingency budget. It’s important to act swiftly if and when certain expenses exceed the budget so the appropriate course of action can be identified right away.