VIII.7. Tips for Managing Your Budgets Effectively

Listed below are some general tips on managing departmental budgets effectively, and it is a good idea to work closely with your department office staff and college Business Manager on budget-related issues.

  • Familiarize yourself with the budget-related websites, campus units such as Office of Budget and Planning and Accounting Office, and your college Business Manager.
  • Learn NIU’s financial vocabulary and the various financial statements. Attend any budget-related training necessary.
  • Be aware of deadlines for budget reviews, submitting budget plans for the following fiscal year, cut-off dates for purchases, course fee requests, etc.
  • Use previous year’s expenses for different categories as a guide and develop budget plans for the following fiscal year. Work closely with your Dean and college Business Manager and submit the budget plan by the deadline and get it approved.
  • Develop a monthly routine for working closely with office staff to print and review budget reports to ensure charges have been recorded accurately and identify any discrepancies.
  • Check with your college Business Manager on resolving any identified discrepancies in the budget reports.
  • Monitor the budget transactions closely during the last quarter of the fiscal year and estimate expenses for the rest of the fiscal year so that you can make sure the allocated budget is sufficient to cover all the charges.
  • Inform your Dean and college Business Manager if you foresee any problems with the budget and address the problems proactively before the close of the fiscal year.
  • Make necessary budget transfers to cover any deficits in particular line items in a cost center. Budget transfers can be made between line items within a cost center for a particular funding source or between same funding sources as appropriate.
  • Deposit any checks received into appropriate accounts within 5-days of receipt of those checks.
  • Establish departmental guidelines on the use of particular funds for intended purposes, and be transparent with the process with your faculty and staff. For example, it is good to clarify in a department meeting at the beginning of the academic year the amount budgeted for travel funds for that year and the guidelines for requesting the use of those travel funds for purposes such as conference presentation, work-related training, etc.
  • Network with your fellow chairs and share tips on budget planning, handling discrepancies, and explaining budget-related information to faculty and staff.