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<<Amen, sister. This is exactly what I have been struggling with. I posed a question on another board
asking for budgeting help and have not received a response so far. Since it is a little off the topic, I
was reluctant to ask here, but since you brought it up...any suggestions?>>

Before I first set up a budget, I recorded everything I spent in a small notebook; just to see where everything was going. I then went through my checkbook to see where recurring expenses were (like auto insurance payments). Came up with this list of expenses

Utilities (gas/heat/electric/phone)
Income tax
Auto insurance
Gas/travel expenses
Food cooked at home
Food eaten out
Health insurance
Family/holiday travel/gifts

Some of this is lifestyle -- note that it's rent, not mortgage, and there's no entry for debt repayment or auto loans. Entertainment is the most difficult entry to budget for, as it's easy to put in an inadequate amount, but the budget then becomes impossible to keep.

It's probably best to look at some expenses over a year, as they don't show up every month, then divide them by 12 to get a monthly cost.

Income was simple -- only my paycheck. I assumed that all investments would be reinvested, so did not consider that a source of income.

I know that there are a number of programs that will help with budgeting under different assumptions. Quicken will, although I've never used it, and there are probably some shareware versons that will ask questions to find things that I didn't even think of (or didn't apply to me at that time).

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