Last week, my mentor sent me a text. All it said was,
“You won’t have a clean house unless every room is clean.”
I’m not sure if she was quoting someone else or if she came up with that one on her own. She can be brilliant sometimes. And she’s really good at sending random but deep text messages.
That text got me thinking about several things. It got me thinking about how we try so hard in certain areas of our lives, while we just ignore others. This time of year makes that more obvious. Seems like on every channel, all over social media and in conversations everywhere I go, people are talking about goals and resolutions to lose weight, get healthier and maybe even get better control of their finances.
If you’ve ever lived on your own and especially if you’ve ever lived with someone else in your adult life, you know that keeping a house clean is a daily thing. Imagine leaving your dishes, laundry and toilets for several months before getting around to attending to them. I just threw up a little in my mouth. My standard of clean is not super high by any means. Drives my Kenny crazy. But how nasty.
Yet, that’s what we are so guilty of doing in other areas of our lives. We tend to pay the most attention to the things that are most pressing (paying the utility bill just before we get disconnected, waiting till we’re sick to do something about our health) or that are the easiest (if you enjoy working out, going to the gym is a heckuva lot easier).
I’m so guilty. I am the worst procrastinator. No, really. You think you are, but you’re not. I am. I know I’m about to say something that everyone seems to be saying right now, but I really do want to be proactive this year. Not just about one or two parts of my life, but about keeping my whole “house” clean. For those of you a little slow on the uptake, “house” = “life.”
What about you? Is your whole house clean? Or have you just been focusing on arranging the pillows on the sofa? Or hitting the “fluff” button on the dryer so you’ve got clean clothes today?
This week, I’m going to focus on three things each day that I want to work on to keep my whole “house” clean. Since today is Moolah Monday, I’ll start with life’s “office” (the financial room).
Disclaimer – I am not a financial expert. I just laughed inside while I wrote that. So, this is not advice. Just sayin’, in case you were thinking anything. But we are friends, right? So feel free to steal my ideas.
Three things to clean up life’s “office:”
1. Create a budget that fits my income – and stick to it. Some people don’t like the idea of a budget. I used to be one of them. That was before I knew who Dave Ramsey is. I love that guy. He says you should tell every penny where it should go. And how can you tell them where to go if you don’t even know all the pennies you have? And think about this – you work hard for all those little Babe Lincolns. And some of them you never even get to see before Uncle Sam runs off with them! Get to know your Lincolns and tell them what to do! And then make them do it! If you find you aren’t making ends meet, then you need a plan! I highly recommend Dave’s books Total Money Makeover, and Financial Peace. He has probably written other personal finance books since those were written, but those got me started and they were lifesavers in many ways. They have great templates for budgeting too. Oh and you gotta take care of yourself. Make sure you allow for “me money” in your budget. You deserve it. Another thing I personally plan to do is tithe regularly. I started out the year doing well at this, but I have not been as consistent lately, as we’ve been searching for a new church home. Still, as long as I’m earning money, I should be honoring The One who blessed me with income. I have learned that when I’m tithing, God does amazing things in my life. I’ve got to get back on top of that one.
2. Have an emergency fund. Again, I started out the year last year doing well. I’ve had an emergency fund for a while. But I dipped into it this year and didn’t replenish it. Bad Katie Jo. No, not bad. We’re all human. Things happen. But that’s why everyone needs an emergency fund (Dave Ramsey’s advice, not mine. But I humbly and wholeheartedly agree with him). Start out by throwing as much as you can at it every week until you have $1000 saved up. Dave says if you have to take a temporary 2nd job, do it. My dad always pays with paper money, then puts all his change in a bucket at the end of the day. It adds up. I have friends (I’ve done this too) who save up all their $5 bills. They don’t spend them when they get them. They put them away. That adds up super quick. Then, when there’s 1000 bucks in the bank and the car breaks down, the kids get sick, you get sick, whatever happens, you have some money saved up to get you out of that bind. But then you have to do what I didn’t do this past year. You have to put throw money at it again until it’s back up to a grand for the next emergency. This is only one of several steps Dave recommends we go through to get to financial freedom. Again, get the books. They’re awesome. I’ll be throwing some money at an emergency fund for the next several weeks.
3. Pay all bills on time. This is a struggle for me. Not necessarily because we don’t have the money. I just forget. I used to have all my bills on Auto Pay, but since our income changed drastically this past year, I wanted to be more on top of things. It’s not been pretty. I’ve got to change my perspective and my priorities on this. Here’s my thinking on this. Paying bills on time shows respect for the income we earn. It shows self-respect. And it saves you a boatload of money in late fees, finance charges and penalties. As I sit and write this – true story – the city rang my doorbell. My heart jumped into my throat. I don’t remember them ever paying courtesy calls to tell you they’re turning of the water. How nice. Wait what? I just paid that bill today. Late, but it’s paid. I have a good excuse! I got a new card number and forgot to enter it into their system (I’m still on auto pay with them). So I go to the door, put on a huge smile and prepare to sweet talk my way out of being cut off. Turns out they’re switching out all the meters in the neighborhood. So if you’re a bit unorganized like me, do whatever it takes to get those bills paid on time. It’ll feel great to know you’re caught up. You can answer your phone again cause you’re not screening calls from random and “unknown” numbers. It’ll likely lower your blood pressure as well.
Well, I’ve got somewhat of a plan now. In my personal life, this is just a piece of what I need to do to get my “office” clean. But it’s a start. And it’s manageable:
- Emergency Fund
- Pay bills on time
If you plan on joining me on this, let me know. You got other ideas? Tell me those too. We’re in this together. Let’s help each other get our whole houses clean this year.
I’ll be cleaning another room in the house tomorrow. Join me.
Keep it real,