Keeping an eye
on costs and cashflow

As American statesman Benjamin Franklin once said, “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”.

At the end of what has been a tough year for many, and with the rest of winter and tax returns ahead, your AF Chief Financial Officer Lisa Morgan explains the AF tools available to help you manage your accounts and her top tips for staying ahead. 


Planning for the unexpected

Just when we all thought that the 2020-22 period of pandemic, market uncertainty and price volatility was at an end, 2023 rolled into town. Unprecedented weather events heavily impacted the early summer growing season, cereals harvest and hay and silage production. Now the late summer and autumn cultivation and drilling periods have been massively disrupted, many times and in record breaking ways! Both yields and income have been significantly affected this year, and so in general farm incomes are down.

At a macro level, conflicts continue in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Argentina and the Netherlands face new political climates (could America be next?) and the UK faces the prospect of a change in government in 2024. All this with no mention of the NFU, Red Tractor, post Brexit trade deals, cost of living or interest rates!

Whilst all the climate and political adversity has thankfully been countered by a reduction in last year’s significantly inflated input costs, there has still never been a greater need to carefully forecast and plan your expenditure and cash flow.


AF tools to make your accounting easy

Cashflow planning at your fingertips

Use AF interactive to help forecast what costs are coming in your next invoice pack. This is in real time, so you can see invoices as they are added to your account. You can then check your net cost of orders and invoices, and if you add an allowance for VAT and service charges, you will be able to plan your cash outflow.

Cost tracking at a glance

See what your business costs were in previous years to track past prices, and when you incurred various costs and this will help to strengthen your forecast. You can do this month to month and year to year.

Save on data input with software upload

Your invoice pack can also be uploaded into your accounting software which will save you time. And if you set up a number 2 account with AF, you can ringfence specific spend and track costs separately, e.g. for a diversification, or a large capital-hungry project.


Keep an eye on cashflow

All businesses, regardless of size, need to know when cash may be tight. But for some, numbers and accounting are daunting. Keep it simple: use a basic spreadsheet to plot dates when you think cash will be coming in, and when it may be going out. This will show you any pinch points when there isn’t enough coming in to cover what is going out.

Once you know this you can look for solutions to avoid going into the red. Some ‘easy wins’ include:

  • Keep in touch with customers to check they can pay you on time, or settle unpaid invoices
  • Speak to your bank manager to arrange appropriate borrowing before pinch points happen and avoid incurring charges for unauthorised debt
  • Discuss with your suppliers if you are struggling to pay – many will prefer to work out a mutually agreeable deferred payment plan than chase you for payment


Your co-operative is here to support you

We’ve been around for over 20 years, which means this isn’t the first tricky financial time for farmers and other rural businesses we’ve seen. Your AF Finance team is experienced at helping Members work through difficult times.

We can arrange short-term payment plans, specific repayment schedules for unexpected bills, or even take pre-payments to build a credit balance if you know there are unusually high bills pending.

Any support we provide is subject to your account status, charges and interest. It’s vital you speak to us as soon as you’re aware of a problem. But ultimately, your co-operative is here for all Members and we’ll try to help when you need it most. To speak to us about your account, email or call 01603 881 904.


Lisa Morgan Chief Financial Officer 01603 881 935

Save money. Save time.