Consider bartering. This advice is easier suggested than executed, but if you offer a valuable service or product, and you want someone else's valuable service or product, you may be able to barter far easier than most people.
"It really started out of depression when I was separated and struggling to give my kids the life that I really wanted them to have," Hunt says. She started bartering her virtual assistant services, mostly for children's activities.
"I've saved about $53,000 in kids' activities fees," Hunt says, reeling off some of the experiences she has given her children: private drum lessons, private piano lessons, private guitar lessons, tae kwon do classes, gymnastics team fees. "So in bartering my skills, I not only save myself a boatload of money, but I'm able to put my cash into other things," she says.
She says she has also coordinated some three-way barters, allowing her to get computer equipment, printing and graphic design services. "As I expand my bartering network," Hunt says, "it's amazing how often I can work something out for something I wouldn't necessarily either be able to afford or feel right about if I was spending money."
Keep good records – and study them. Carlson hopes later in the year to finally bring on some employees. If he does, keeping his cash flow positive – even if that means tapping credit – is a key reason he'll be able to expand. But the other reason he has successfully managed his business and personal budgeting is that he studies his company's past to make decisions for the present and future.
For instance, Carlson is going to ramp down his inventory spending in November because the following month has historically been poor. Carlson quips: "December is terrible in my line of business because I don't sell anything with an 'i' in front of it."