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Get home and finances in comfortable working order

When I wrote "Sink Reflections," started by the following letter, I wanted you to understand the feeling of peace that comes from order:

Dear FlyLady, Wanted to let you know about the wonderful B & B my husband and I stayed at this weekend. The small but simply furnished kitchen was well stocked with delicious healthy snacks and meals. Homemade waffles with blackberries were served from a beautiful clean kitchen. The living areas and bedrooms were furnished with fresh plumped pillows, lovely matching sheets and down comforter and scented candles everywhere. The bathroom — ah . . . bubble bath, lotions and fresh white towels. The library was stocked with books, magazines and yoga videos. Best of all, my husband and I spent time together with no interruptions, chores or traffic. OK — you guessed it . . . thanks to you — this is my home.

As your home becomes this welcoming retreat, you are going to find that not only the house is clean, meals are cooked, but when you walk in the door, the worries are gone too. This is the peace that comes as you clean out the clutter.

The one area that often gets overlooked is our finances. Everything in our home is connected to this. As we clear out one area and establish routines for dealing with it, we find more time to tackle meal planning, bill paying and not spending quite as much.

What if we ran our homes like 5-star hotels? We already do. We are the home executives of our hotels, so let's look at our homes in comparison to a hotel: We have bedrooms and bathrooms. We provide a place for people to sleep comfortably and get ready for their day. We have a laundry service. The dining room is always open. The concierge is ready to plan any excursion. The limousine service is at our beck and call. The lounge has nice reading material.

So as you can plainly see, our hotels already offer the best! You are the chief executive of this hotel so it is your responsibility to keep it running!

Every business has to know where its money is being spent and to keep track of the budget. Do you know what a budget really is? It is a projection of what you have coming in and how much you think it will take to operate your hotel. That doesn't mean you spend everything that comes in, either.

At this point our hotels are struggling to stay afloat. As we fix one problem, another one arises. We work on the cleaning. We have established routines for getting things done. The kitchen is coming together. Menus are posted. Purchasing lists are ready. But this is only part of keeping our hotel running.

When we have financial problems, the stress hurts everyone. We have to learn to find a balance in our hotel and look objectively at income and outgo.

We have a limited budget and we need to learn new ways of living within those means. We can't make more money appear magically. We have to start with a simple budget. We have to write down what we need to run each area of our little hotel. We have to know how much we spend in order to reduce it.

Last week someone asked me what my greatest asset was. I said "ME!" Do you want to know why? It is because of my "can do" attitude. You want to know something else? You have that! Knowledge is the answer! But having the knowledge and using it are two different things.

We are smart, savvy people! Our greatest asset is ourselves. When you take care of you, you are taking care of your hotel.

There are some who are good with their finances. We have members who can literally run a 5-star hotel. At the office, our members look totally put together, but at home they have trouble finding things. They suffer from "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome." Their dirty little secret has been kept from friends and co-workers and I'll bet their financial dirty little secret has been hidden as well. Do you want to know why?

Fear! Fear of rejection! Could that be why we spend ourselves into major debt, living beyond our means? Fear of not being worthy because of a flaw; fear of not looking like we want; fear of what other people think; fear of not living up to our ideals; fear of not being able to keep up with the neighbors. Do you see the stinking thinking in all of these attitudes? The "fear" of not knowing is worse than knowing. When you know your enemy, you can work out a battle plan!

Marla Cilley, a k a FlyLady, is the author of "Sink Reflections" (Bantam Books Trade Paperback). For more help, please go to her Web site: © 2005