If you're trying to get to financial independence or retirement at all, you need to budget. Hands down, that is the #1 way to take care of your money.
My Bottom-Line Budgeting method has three steps:
Review what you spent last month.
Decide what you want to spend this month.
Review your decisions against your financial priorities.
The easiest part of budgeting is deciding what you want to spend. Anyone can use categories and decide what to spend. Easy peasy.
The hardest part of budgeting is keeping track of what you're spending and what you've spent. It's not difficult, but it is emotional. It brings up uncomfortable feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness, but also HOPE, once you get through the budgeting process.
If you don't know how much you're spending, you won't know how much you can save.
Keeping track of your spending is ESSENTIAL to living on a budget and getting to financial freedom.
Knowing and controlling what you spend will get you to financial freedom.
HOW Do You Keep Track of What You Spend?
Most people write down every expense using pen and paper. While I love a good analog exploration session, it's not sustainable for most people that I meet.
So let's explore a few different automated applications:
EveryDollar through Ramsey+
YNAB or You Need A Budget
Mint at Mint.com
Each one of these will track your spending automatically if you hook up your bank account or credit card(s) to the application.
EveryDollar is $10 per month. YNAB is $12 per month.
Mint.com is FREE. It's good for budget tracking. I use it myself and help my clients use it properly.
If you'd like to learn more and get WAY more free stuff and tips on budget tracking, then listen to my podcast, Living a Budget, at the link below.