Think of making a budget like spring cleaning: It’s a great way to get things in order around your house, and you feel a lot better after it’s done.
Don’t laugh. Lots of people think of a budget as a straitjacket and keep putting it off. Are you one of them? But just like getting all those old clothes out of a closet and into a yard sale or cutting the grass for the first time this year, you feel a sense of relief once it’s done. It’s no longer a pressing weight in the back of your mind.
Here are three things to remember that will make both budgeting and spring cleaning much easier:
1. Tackle One Area at a Time
Don’t think you have to clean the entire house in one fell swoop. Pick a small room to start and go after it. Once you have a little task done, go to something larger. Same goes for your budget. Don’t focus on saving 15% of your income or tens of thousands for your kids’ college fund—that can get overwhelming! Start with Baby Step 1—get $1,000 saved for emergencies—then tackle each Baby Step as you get there.
2. Start With a Small Task
If you begin cleaning and organizing in the bedroom, do something small and simple like cleaning out a drawer to get yourself in a work groove and see some progress. Just like your debt snowball where you target one debt at a time, starting with the smallest, this approach will get you motivated to clean the rest of the rooms in your house.
3. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
There’s no need to have a schedule that would make the cast of House Crashers beg for a rest. Set a timetable for yourself for each task. It’s your house, so operate on your clock. There’s no need to compare your progress to everyone else’s and think you’re not winning because you’re not at their level. Same goes for your progress through the Baby Steps.
You may feel like your house and money situation are both in a mess—and who hasn’t at one time or another? Well, have no fear! Both situations can change starting right now.