So what are we looking at?
Here is an example of how I organize my budget on shows. I start out with the title of the project at the top, followed by six columns. Date, Item (Category), Description, Price, Payment Method, Running Total. This is an example of an in-use budget for a not-yet-open show.
You need something that is easy to read. You are not the only one who will read this. If you have an assistant, they will have this in their lives. Producers will look at this or at least their assistants will. It is important to keep it organized and detailed. Once the Producer sees this paperwork though, there will be no more future expense estimation highlighted section and the total I have used will be noted down in the lower right hand side.
It is also important to notate how things were paid. If my assistant had paid for something with his own credit card that would be notated so I would know I needed to reimburse him. If the company you are working for has a company card it is important to notate that too.
Pro tip: Scan all your receipts into any receipt app so you have a backup. I use drop box because their black and white scanner is great!
Never be afraid to ask friends for help; whether it be advice or physical human power. Your friends are an amazing resource, but you have to take care of them or else like our polar ice caps, they will begin to disappear from your life.
There are plenty of online communities on social media or forums to go and be an active member in. These places can be great to go for advice, sourcing suggestions, etc. I am a member of Costume People as well as another Facebook group for graduates from the university I received my MFA from.
Recently I have designed a project where I had no shop but needed a lot of alterations to happen. I was lucky enough to have some money in the budget to pay an assistant, but I needed more help for a day. I sent out a call for a four hour time period and promised pizza. I feel four hours for pizza (and some other tasty treats) is a fair voluntary ask.
If I needed more than four or five hours of help I would probably try to find another way to "pay" my friends. One way I find to be a good option is comp tickets if they want to see the show, or a special thanks in the program if the due date hasn't passed for submissions to the playbill.
One thing you have to remember is your friends are being generous with their time so you should be generous with whatever you can in return. If you can't do something at the time, let them know you will show up for one of their calls.
The Beatles were right, "I get buy with a little help from my friends..."