It sounds awful, right? But it's not all that bad and once done can be surprisingly revealing and helpful. Step one is to keep a detailed log of every penny you spend for one full month; two or three months would be better if you have the patience. The extra couple of months would capture occasional but recurring expenses like theater tickets or car repairs. Once you know where your money is going it's easy to allocate it in a way that does not exceed your income from take-home pay and, if you're lucky, other sources like stock dividends or regular gifts from grandma. Make sure you build in the cost of regular contributions to long-term savings and of life and disability insurance.