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Many articles written on the ever-exciting topic of budgets list them as a necessary “evil”. They are not evil. Your budget is not lurking in your closet, hiding under your bed, or threatening to crawl awkwardly out of your television set and murder you 7 days later. Your budget is what you make of it.

Whether you want to escape your painfully high debt or purchase yourself a new television now that it has been destroyed by a homicidal child, it is there to help you. Creating a budget for the financial wellness of your household is both challenging and rewarding. Like running, you start out bright-eyed and excited. But if you start out running a 5k before even walking a mile, you are setting yourself up to fail.

So what does that mean for your budget? Go slowly. Making small changes and watching how those affect your bottom line is the best way to begin. Once you start running, your legs are burning; it hurts for a while. Then, something amazing happens: you are able to endure it. You are able to push past the pain and on to that 5k you’ve been dreaming about.

Your first step is to understand that there may be a problem. You may be spending well over your income, like my husband and I were. You may already understand that you are doing so, but don’t see the true issue. You are too distracted by the trees to see the forest. Here is the forest, my friend:

Have you ever read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? This is your life without a budget. It all seems great at first. You get a cookie, and some milk, and a straw, and a slew of other items, until you look up and realize that darn rat has emptied your house! And those debt collectors are calling and wanting their cookies back!

To look at your finances and truly acknowledge that you are in a hole is where it all begins.  Each day you live, you are faced with several choices.  The first is to get out of bed or hit the snooze button.  Stop hitting the snooze button on your financial health.  It is time to wake up and face the consequences like an adult.