Friday, August 25, 2017

Maintaining Balance In Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life Part 4: Don't Stray From What's Within Your Means

This year alone, I've seen quite a few rescues, both local and out of state, having to shut their doors. The primary reason was funding. Not only did their funds dry up, but they were in debt. They had outstanding bills to pay at veterinary clinics, trainers, etc. Despite their fundraising efforts and GoFundMe campaigns, the money wasn't coming in fast enough to cover the costs and pay off their debt.

All the way around, any rescue group that has to close their doors because of the lack of funding is sad. However, I can't help but think that with better money management, closing the doors could have been avoided. It all boils down to being realistic, budgeting, and not straying too far from residing within your means.

Financial balance.

When we launched Bodacious Biscuit Love in October of 2013, we had one furry kid. Coco. As a work at home Dog Mom, I was making really good money. We didn't think twice about the amount of out-of-pocket money we were spending on our mission.

In 2014, our family got a little bigger. Sophie. That summer, a contract I had with a good paying client ended. I continued to do a little work for him, but in December of that year, we said our goodbyes. I was a little heartbroken, however, Lisa and I had been discussing the possibility of me cutting back on work hours to focus more on future plans. Those plans included Bodacious Biscuit Love, creating an entirely new blog site dedicated to our Dog Mom life, creating new, homemade dog treat recipes, getting affiliated with BlogPaws, publishing a book, etc.

Less than a month into 2015, we fostered who would end up being our third furry kid. Lobo. In February of that year, when all was said and done, Lisa and I sat down to go over our budget. A lot had changed since the launch of Bodacious Biscuit Love. We wanted to make sure that we were on top of things.

When our budget was all figured out we realized that we had to put limits on our out-of-pocket Bodacious Biscuit Love expenses. More than ever, we were reliant on the upcoming event season and the two Bodacious Yard & Bake Sales that we'd be hosting in the Summer and Fall.

At the end of 2015, we were completely burned out and running on fumes. Any balance we had earlier in the year was, at that point, non-existent. To top things off,  we were partially still running out of pocket. We needed to make some serious changes and we did.

You can read about that in my recent blog column, 'Maintaining Balance In Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life Part 2: It's Okay To Say No.'

In order to restore balance in our home, family life, work life, and beyond, we pulled all displays except one. We discontinued our participation in events except for Whiskers In Wonderland. We shared the recipe for our Bodacious Biscuit Love Peanut Butter Dog Treats. We no longer hosted our Bodacious Yard and Bake Sales.

That's just the tip of the iceberg of the changes we made.

By making those changes, we were now able to productively shift our focus to helping local pet parents in need and to send Bodacious Care Packages. We're still donating raffle baskets to the organizations who have our respect. I had more time to create new, homemade dog treat recipes to share with all the Dog Parents out there and to work on DIY Dog Mom Projects. My goal is to eventually become a resource for homemade dog treats and inexpensive projects for Dog Parents to make so they're not spending a fortune on the store-bought stuff.

We knew the changes we made would greatly reduce the amount of funds for Bodacious Biscuit Love, however, restoring and maintaining balance was a priority. Much needed. It's been great.

In addition, on March 2nd of this year, our family got a little bigger. Willa.

Throughout all of this, we had to be realistic about what we can do and what we can't. Obviously, with 4 furry kids and the cost of living increasing, we don't have the same amount of out-of-pocket money to spend on Bodacious Biscuit Love as we did back in 2013. In addition, we don't have nearly the amount of funds as we had in previous years.

This is where money management and financial balance comes into play. We know what we can spend out of pocket. That's a set limit. We also know that we can't depend on possible funds coming in. Some weeks, there's no money coming in from biscuits or DIY Dog Mom Projects. Other weeks, we might see $20 or, if we're lucky, $40.

We're realistic about this. We don't stray from what's within our means. In other words, we don't commit to anything unless we know the money will be there to fund it.

We've never taken the route of asking for money or starting a GoFundMe campaign.

Sure, you'll always have the critics on the sidelines reminding you of what you did a few years ago versus now. There will always be small groups and large organizations who are doing more and donating more and hosting an event every weekend. But, keep in mind, any mission towards the greater good is not a competition.

Do what you can. When you can. Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Thankfully, we've had a few wonderful people who have donated supplies like pet food, toys, treats, collars, and other pet supplies. That has helped us out tremendously and the Bodacious Care Packages we've shipped have been loaded with biscuit love and other much-needed items for pet parents in need.

I'll be the first to admit, it hasn't been easy. There are so many dogs in need. Lisa and I would love nothing more than to provide biscuit love and toys and launch fundraisers to help cover medical costs for all of the rescue and shelter dogs here in Connecticut, but realistically, we can't.

The people in these rescue groups who have had to shut their doors, I know their mind frame was very similar. They wanted to rescue and save all of the dogs in need. They took in too many animals in need. They didn't have enough money to cover the costs. They didn't have enough foster homes. Things spiraled out of control very quickly.

Their hearts were in the right place, but there was no balance. There was no consideration taken when it came to what they wanted to do versus what they were able to do financially and beyond.

Financial balance is necessary. Important. A definite must. It's what keeps any organization, big or small, in check.

It also means the difference between keeping your doors opened or having to close them.

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