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Budgeting vs. Financial Forecasting: What’s the Difference?

Budgeting vs. Fiscal Forecasting: An Overview

Budgeting and financial forecasting are tools that companies use to establish a plan for where management wants to pocket the business—budgeting—and whether it is heading in the right direction—financial forecasting.

Although budgeting and financial forecasting are time again used together, distinct differences exist between the two concepts. Budgeting quantifies the expected revenues that a traffic wants to achieve for a future period. In contrast, financial forecasting estimates the amount of revenue or income achieved in a unborn period.

Key Takeaways

  • Budgeting is the financial direction of where management wants to take the company.
  • It helps quantify the conjecture of revenues that a business wants to achieve for a future period.
  • Financial forecasting tells whether the company is peak in the right direction, estimating the amount of revenue and income that will be achieved in the future.
  • Budgeting creates a baseline to against actual results to determine how the results vary from the expected performance.
  • Financial forecasting is used to determine how visitors should allocate their budgets for a future period.


A budget is an outline of expectations for what a company privations to achieve for a particular period, usually one year. Characteristics of budgeting include:

  • Estimates of revenues and expenses
  • Expected loot flows
  • Expected debt reduction
  • A budget is compared to actual results to calculate the variances between the two figures.

Budgeting describes a company’s financial position, cash flow, and goals. A company’s budget is typically re-evaluated periodically, usually in the same instant per fiscal year, depending on how management wants to update the information. Budgeting creates a baseline to compare actual happens to determine how the results vary from the expected performance.

While most budgets are created for an entire year, that is not a hard-and-fast commonly. For some companies, management may need to be flexible and allow the budget to be adjusted throughout the year as business conditions substitute. 

Financial Forecasting

Financial forecasting estimates a company’s future financial outcomes by examining historical data. Fiscal forecasting allows management teams to anticipate results based on previous financial data. Characteristics of financial anticipation include: 

  • Used to determine how companies should allocate their budgets for a future period. Unlike budgeting, economic forecasting does not analyze the variance between financial forecasts and actual performance.
  • Regularly updated, perhaps monthly or every three months, when there is a change in operations, inventory, and business plan
  • Can be created for both the short-term and long-term. For example, a suite might have quarterly forecasts for revenue. If a customer is lost to the competition, revenue forecasts might need to be updated.
  • A direction team can use financial forecasting and take immediate action based on the forecasted data.

Financial forecasting can help a directors team make adjustments to production and inventory levels. Additionally, a long-term forecast might help a company’s handling team develop its business plan. 

A financial forecast is usually limited in scope, focusing on expense line fillers and major streams of revenue.

Key Differences

There are critical differences between budgeting and forecasting. For example, budgets are manufactured to meet a goal, such as quarterly growth. Financial forecasting examines whether the budget’s target will be met or not all over the proposed timeline. The content of a budget and financial forecast is different—the former contains specific goals like the army of items to sell or the amount of money to earn. The latter shows the expectations of how the budget will be met.

A budget is made for a indicated period and is usually based on past trends or experiences of the company. A financial forecast examines a company’s current economic situation and uses the information to forecast whether or not a budget will be met. Financial forecasting may be done frequently while a budget is set for a proper to time period and may not be done more than once, twice, or quarterly.

Special Considerations

A budget outlines the information management wants to take the company. A financial forecast is a report illustrating whether the company is reaching its budget ambitions and where it is heading in the future. 

Budgeting can sometimes contain goals that may not be attainable due to changing market conditions. If a institution uses budgeting to make decisions, the budget should be flexible and updated more frequently than one fiscal year, which is a relationship to the prevalent market.

Budgeting and financial forecasting should work in tandem with each other. For example, both short-term and long-term monetary forecasts could be used to help create and update a company’s budget. A budget may not always be necessary during a budgetary year, although many companies make them. However, a financial forecast is relevant because of the information it provides because it can highlight the for for action. In contrast, a budget may contain targets that cannot be accomplished if the budget is an overreach.

How Can a Budget Help With Economic Planning?

A budget can help set expectations for what a company wants to achieve during a period of time such as every thirteen weeks or annually, and it contains estimates of cash flow, revenues and expenses, and debt reduction. When the time period is over with, the budget can be compared to the actual results.

What Comes First, a Budget or a Forecast?

Typically a budget is created already a financial forecast. A budget reveals the shape or direction of a company’s finance, while the forecast tracks whether or not the suite is meeting its financial goals as outlined in the budget. Long-term financial forecasting may be done without first having a budget, but it want likely use past key indicators from previous budgets.

What Are the Steps of Financial Forecasting?

When a company creates a fiscal forecast report, it will decide on a time frame for the forecast and then gather all past financial documents and fated paperwork around the time frame. The report will document, monitor, and analyze critical data such as bread flow and income statements, and balance sheets.

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