One of the only reasons people budget their money is to avoid getting into debt. Budgeting allows you to assign your money where it needs to go. If there is more expense (money spent) than income (money earned) at the end of your budget, something needs to change. There are many tools on this page to help with that.
It is important to know how much money you have coming in. Each budget you create can change from month-to-month or paycheck-to-paycheck. Also, forecasting future income will help you with your current budget in case you need to make any adjustments.
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It is equally important to know what your expenses are. First, get familiar with your bills - what they are for, when they are due, how much is due, and what's your flexibility (e.g. setting your own due date). Then write down all your reoccurring expenses that are not bills such as gas, food, etc. Knowing what exactly you are spending money on will help you know what can be added or cut.
Needs vs. Wants
Budgeting can sometimes allow for buying things we want in addition to the things we need. However, a proper budget starts with needs, then wants. Basic needs include food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and utilities. Understanding the difference between needs and wants will help you determine how much money you spend on these basic needs. The should be your first stop for resources to cover your basic needs.
How To Improve
Once you know what your income is, what your expenses are, and what your budget looks like, you can start to adjust your budget in order to decrease spending and increase saving. Again, we're trying to eliminate debt, not consistently manage it.
Your Spending, Your Savings, Your Future Booklet on CashCourse.org can be a great place to start!
After you've balanced your budget, begin keeping a detailed record of what you spend. Expenses for one quarter should show whether or not you are following your plan. If you need help making decisions on expenses to include in your budget, try using CashCourse's Needs Versus Wants Worksheet.
For ideas on how to easily cut costs, consider the following budgeting categories: