To begin with your budget needs to be reasonable. It needs to make sense. If you are not realistic about it, you won’t be able to stick to it.
For example, you may feel you don’t have enough in savings, and according to the “calculators” you may need to set aside $1000 per month, but if that’s not possible for you to do, then start with a number that you can do. It’s about setting the money aside and beginning the process of building it up. Once you see results it becomes easier and easier to set more aside.
Make a list, or a pie chart, depending on what you like best.
Split it up into several categories. First your house/rent along with the total utilities. Second, things like groceries, sundry items (shampoo, deodorant, pet stuff) that is not fixed but is necessary each month.
Third, your vehicle expense including insurance and gas. Fourth, your long term and short term savings for emergencies. Fifth, your luxury items. You can make two categories out of this one because it includes things like clothes that we do need to buy, but not every month, and bigger things like vacations.
If you have a list of these categories then when you get paid, you can automatically put money in the proper category and quickly assess how much is left over to play with.
I like the idea of actually setting up multiple accounts with debit cards.
When you get paid you can easily transfer money into each account. You can name each account according to the above categories (Home, Vehicle, Short Term Savings, Luxury).
This works well for my family and also reduces potential arguments about spending.
Look at your bank statement!
A lot of people don’t do this since everything is on debit cards now. It’s really important, especially if you have joint accounts, to look at the statements online or when they come in the mail, so that you can be aware of what you are buying and where your money is going.
This is very effective because when you force yourself to see that, it makes it easier to spend less and be aware of how the little amounts add up to big totals that can blow your budget.