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The NCAA tournament starts today! That means you’ll be hearing a lot of talk about a certain month of basketball madness, brackets and underdog teams pulling upsets.
In fact, we bet that one out of every four people you talk to today has their eyes glued to their tournament bracket. Making guesses and filling out brackets are great fun—especially when you’re rooting for an underdog—because anything is possible during the NCAA tourney.
But what about that other B-word? What if we went mad about our budget? What if we got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we made March the month to start fresh? What if we could make the process of creating a budget just as fun as filling out a bracket? Is that even possible?
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We think so. Here are five ways:
1. Figure out your priorities
In the world of basketball brackets, these are called "seeds." The best-ranked team is the No. 1 seed, and the worst ranked team is the No. 16 seed. Your key concern here is separating your needs from your wants. What do you really need right now, and what might simply be a want that can wait until later?
Related: The Truth About The Joneses
2. Pick your final four
Need to know what your top four priorities are? We’ll help. We call them the four walls: food, shelter and utilities, clothing and transportation. You take care of these items before anything else. That means the credit card company isn’t getting paid until your kids have food and your lights are on.
3. Do your research
Some people love to look for sleeper teams and do hours of research for their office bracket pool. What if you could spend a few extra hours a month understanding where all your money goes—and maybe even finding the sleeper items in your budget? What are the surprises and the unexpected items in your budget?
4. Aim for perfection
But understand it rarely happens—like, almost never. According to Science Daily, the chances of picking a perfect NCAA bracket are less than one in 9.2 quintillion. That’s a nine followed by 18 zeros.
Fortunately, making a good budget is much easier than that as long as you realize that perfection doesn’t really exist. There’s always something—a doctor’s visit, car troubles, sports equipment your 10-year-old forgot to tell you about. Every month, something will happen that you didn’t expect. So aim for perfect, but expect the unexpected as well.
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5. Don’t ignore the past
If you don't learn from your past mistakes, you’ll more than likely repeat them. In the history of the NCAA tournament, a No. 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed. In the same way, you’re almost guaranteed to see at least a No. 12 seed beat a No. 5 seed. It happens every year.
Statistically, that’s a trend. And by looking at the trends in your budget, you’ll know your tendencies. From there, you can decide if you need to make adjustments.
So, remember, your budget doesn’t have to be boring. Sure, comparing it to an NCAA tournament bracket is a stretch—we’ll admit that. But the point is that you can have fun while getting out of debt and learning to manage your money. So go ahead and embrace the basketball madness. But don’t forget to embrace a little budget madness while you’re at it.
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