OK so you've figured out your income, and all your bills that have to be paid. Great. So what's next?
If you're coming up short, have another look at your numbers. Can you tweak anything right off the start? I budget $200/week for food for our family of 4, $20 for personal care stuff, $30 for entertainment, $40 for "other" (which for us is dog food and diapers), and finally $10 for the kid's allowances. That works for us and after a few trials and errors I finally figured it out.
Cash is the only way to go. I don't know about you, but I'm a busy momma. Working full time, 2 boys, 2 dogs, and a husband who works away for most of the month. So I use cash because I just don't have time to write everything down and track statements and bank accounts every time I shop. Binders work for some people, just not for me. I keep receipts where the cash is, and I see the cash going down so I know when it's gone it's gone. AND I know that what is in my account is staying there - no worrying about accidentally overspending with my debit card and not having enough to cover payments.
Equal billing: Change your hydro and gas to equal billing and save yourself the stress of coming up with double or triple your regular bill in the winter months. You can budget knowing exactly what your monthly bill will be every month. Definite headache avoidance tactic.
When you find a budget that works for you, then stick with it! But review it anytime there are changes in your pay situation, or an opportunity to save money somewhere.
Speaking of which - don't forget to save. Whatever you can, and do it automatically, somewhere out of sight. I use my ING account, then it leaves my chequing account and I don't even miss it.
Talk to your financial services rep about all of the different savings vehicles for household, retirement, and otherwise. They're the experts and can help you figure out what's best for your situation.
Next time - paying off your debt - what's the best way to do it?
I hope this has helped a bit! Busy busy week, back to the housework!