If you've tried every money management program out there and still aren't able to get a handle on your finances, it may be time to go old-school: get out a pen and paper, and write it down. And by "it," I mean everything — every purchase or payment, big or small.
Since so many of you check your online accounts on a regular basis, this may seem redundant, but it actually serves a completely different purpose. Having to sit down at the end of the day and write down all of your spending forces you to reflect on where your money is really going, and examine whether you're spending it wisely. And if you're working on developing a budget, looking back over a few days or weeks worth of spending can help you come up with one that's reasonable and doable. If you need help getting this habit started, take a cue from friends of mine who recently began tracking their spending. They bought a notebook just for that purpose; no other notes or to-do lists make their way on its pages. Every evening, they sit down together and write down the purchases each of them made that day — often with a drink in hand to make the task more fun! They're finding it to be a great way to both track their spending and connect with each other at the end of a busy day. Think you might give it a shot?