If you are new to budgeting start with goals that you can achieve in a short timeframe. This is by far the best advice I can give you.
- Stop using your credit card(s) until the balance is paid off. Then use it more as a convenience than a means of increasing debt. Here is a handy free excel spreadsheet to help you track your loan and credit card debt.
- Pay off high interest loans and credit cards first.
- After you pay off a loan pay that amount back to yourself through your budget. Start a vacation fund, and a emergency savings fund.
- Reconcile your budget at least twice a month.
- Set aside money for bills that come on an annual or quarterly basis (like automobile tabs, pet licenses)
- Save a little for Christmas throughout the year.
- Come up with a formal plan to payoff your credit card debt.
- Make an extra mortgage payment a year. You will save some money in taxes by doing this and will pay off your home quicker (About 13 years early for a 30 year mortgage). Here is a handy free excel spreadsheet to help you track your mortgage(es).
- Pretend when you make your budget that you only have 90% of your net income available. Take the remaining 10% and apply it to retirement funds (401k, or Roth IRA's)
- Your food budget is a great source for potential savings.
- The discretionary income you spend during your workday is a great potential source of savings. But, make sure you eat healthy!
- Those ad-hoc trips to the corner store can cost you an arm and a leg.