Budget – The word brings to mind hours reviewing expenses, staring at numbers, and putting away the credit card.
Yes, it will be time consuming to start with, but the rewards are great. A budget doesn't mean you can't go out to eat, or take a vacation. These are things that can be added into the budget. The goal is to have control of your finances.
There are many “money” programs available and I have used Microsoft Money for years. This is no longer available, but take a look at other Personal Finance Software.
I started by setting up my budget on Microsoft Excel and by looking at MS Money reports (I use the category section when entering an expense), listed expenses for the prior month. If you aren’t using a money program, go through receipts, bank statements, or credit card statements. Many of these are available online if you haven’t kept any of the statements. If none of these are available start from today (or the beginning of the month).
Don’t be tempted to put everything under “other” or “miscellaneous.” I want to truly see where my money is going and in addition to listing the recurring expenses, I’m keeping track of everything I spend over $5. Drastic I know, but I’m on a quest. Also, if there are consistent expenses such as a morning coffee for $4.95 or five cokes from the vending machine, make a note of these, you may be able to save drastically by cutting down or eliminating these.
I haven’t listed mortgage/rent, insurance or car loans, but these are all areas that cost may be reduced.