Manage Your Money Like a Basketball Bracket

Nobody likes the process of building a budget but since we have all been captivated by watching NCAA basketball during March I thought of a way to make the process more fun by turning the chore of budgeting into a game.

If you are a March Madness fan you probably still have brackets on your mind. How about using those same brackets and turn them into a budgeting tool? What if you could make the process of creating a budget just as fun as filling out a basketball bracket?

Here are seven ways to make your budgeting more fun:

Figure out your priorities: In basketball brackets, these are called seeds – the best-ranked team is No. 1. 1 and the worst is the No. 1. 16 seed. In the world of budgeting your main concern is separating your needs from your desires. Ask yourself, is this item a necessity, or just fun to have? Unlike your basketball bracket, you may not come out with a single winner. You may have various purchases that are important that are placed in the winner's bracket.

It's time to pick your final four: It's important to know what your top four priorities are. We call those food, shelter, utilities and clothing and transportation. It's imperative that you take care of these items before anything else. That means you're not buying that new 65 "HD TV until your kids have food on the table and lights to do their homework.

Always do your research : Some people spend hours researching the teams so they can put a sleeper team in their winning bracket. What if you could do that same amount of research and understand where all your money is going every month. And maybe even find a sleeper item in your personal budget.

Be flexible: Just like a basketball bracket, you make your budgeting forecasts based on current data. Just be aware that information and your habits are constantly changing. Stay flexible so you can make your budget updates quickly. Never "set it and forget it".

Always aim for perfection but expect a little less: How easy is it to pick a perfect NCAA bracket? Did you know it is less than one in 9.2 quintillion? Luckily, making a usable budget is much easier than picking that perfect basketball bracket. A perfect budget does not exist either because there is always something unexpected that comes up that is not in the budget – emergency room visit, car trouble, etc. So do not ever aim for perfection when it comes to budgeting. Just prepare for the unexpected.

Never ignore the past : In budgeting as in basketball there are trends. By looking at the trends in your past budget or spending habits you'll know your inclinations for future spending. Your trends will tell you if you need to make any adjustments in your current budget.

Reallocate if necessary: Just like in basketball you might have to change your proposal winners or sacrifice teams. Reallocating funds within your budget is a big part of streamlining your budget. Whether you're simply moving money between activities or shifting larger quantities monthly, keep a watchful eye on every move you make.

Remember, your budget does not have to be a boring task. I agree that comparing your budget preparation to an NCAA tournament bracket is quite a stretch. The point I am trying to make is you can have some fun while getting yourself out of debt and learning some creative ways to manage your money.