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I never used to have a budget, but I had a rough idea where my money was going. I didn't say "oh, I'm $50 over budget in groceries this month", or anything. But I knew to cut back on X if I spent Y.

One month I realized that I had a little more outgoing than incoming.
I had used Quicken as my electronic checkbook register, but didn't really do anything with it. So I started running reports on where I was spending my money because I had no idea where the leaks were in my financial canoe. Taking an honest look at my expenses showed that I was taking out too much cash each week and that I wasn't prepared for major medical costs not covered by my insurance. Oops.

Sitting down and creating a budget helped me realize what I *really* spend my money on vs. what I *thought* I spent my money on. It was a big difference, and I thought I was pretty good with my money.

HOWEVER, I know quite a few people who don't have a budget and they are fine. They sort of keep it in their head. So, YMMV, of course.

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