To Buy or Not to Buy, That Is the Question
Outlays for capital improvements can be daunting, whether for a business or within a personal budget. It makes sense to invest in capital improvements when a realistic return on the initial investment can be expected. Computers, motor vehicles, and homes are all good examples of large personal investments that can generate significant returns or provide security that increases stability. In health care, outlays for expensive imaging devices, real property, and specialization programs can generate the same returns or stability to seek returns, especially when resulting from strategic business planning. Penner (2004) describes these outlays, or expenses, “as inputs or costs incurred in the process of producing goods and services” (p. 65). These inputs are designed to enhance existing revenues streams or provide for additional revenue streams.
Although health care budgeting is much more complicated than personal budgeting, the concepts are very similar. Penner (2004) demonstrates various types of budgets that account for many more revenue and expense items than is typically seen in personal budgeting. For instance, a hospital would account for every charge for every patient seen in each department seen. The hospital would also have to account for a number of expenses, such as personnel costs and the cost for each piece of patient care equipment (Penner, 2004). However, budgets can be consolidated and simplified the further they move from direct care (e.g. budget overviews used by the board of directors would not be so specific to account for each patient’s stay; instead, the budget overview would reflect revenues and expenses departmentally with references to the budgets of each specific department).
Recently, I made two large purchases that had to be budgeted: a) a Chevy Suburban (financed) and b) a Harley-Davidson motorcycle (cash). With both purchases, I needed to be sure that I needed the vehicle and I would benefit from the purchase. For the Suburban, because it was financed, required me to budget $500.00 / month; however, the vehicle allows me to get back and forth to work to earn my living, is reliable in all types of weather (important because I am required to report to duty even in severe weather), and maintains a high resale value. This purchase also required me to budget increased fuel costs due to poor fuel economy. The motorcycle purchase, admittedly largely recreational, also required significant forethought and budgeting; however, the excellent fuel economy certainly allows me to offset the Suburban’s fuel consumption during moderate weather. The motorcycle was also priced at a significant discount and requires little maintenance.
Again, the basics of budgeting are the same for business and personal finances; however, business budgets can get fairly complicated fairly quickly. For personal budgeting, the level of complexity is mainly determined by the needs of the individual. Tracking income and monthly bills requires little detail, though planning for a major future purchase or savings goal requires more significant accounting and detail.
Penner, S. J. (2004). Introduction to health care economics & financial management: Fundamental concepts with practical applications. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.