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We don't have a budget, per se, but I pretty much know where the money goes.

Here's what we've been doing. My paycheck automatically has my 457 plan deduction taken out of it. My wife deposits most of her paycheck into savings and then IRA contributions are automatically taken out each month. My paycheck also has my military buyback amount taken out of it once a month.

I balance my checkbook once a week and that is where all bills are paid from. My wife keeps some cash, usually $30 or less each week when she cashes her check. She will buy gas, prescriptions and other goodies with that money. I usually keep no cash on me at all.

I am pretty good with figures and I know that if this month is the month we pay more for the swim team, then I know to cut back somewhere else.

What I've done is I decided how much I wanted and could afford to save out of each paycheck. Then, I live on the rest. I have learned that if I have money in my pocket, it will get spent. If their is extra money that is easily available to us, then the temptation is there to spend it as well.

Writing checks is a pain for most people, but it's a good way to easily keep track of your money. I have check cards that I use as well, but it's easy to use it, stick the receipt in the wallet and forget to write it in the checkbook. Of course, since I balance the checkbook every weekend, I catch all debit card uses then.

The wife's check is deposited and that's are e-fund. We tap into it from time to time to pay a credit card bill or home repair bill as well. I haven't carried a balance on a credit card in years either.

I use no software for my budget just as I use no software when doing my taxes. Actually, last year the state had a free on-line program that I plugged the numbers into. I figure why buy a tax software program when I can easily do my taxes by hand. I did study taxation when I got my business degree, but I don't remember all the tax laws by any means. Plus, they've changed so much in the past 10 years.

I will say that for many people, it is great to use a budget. I have a lot of self control when it comes to not spending money, but from my experience I can see that many others do not.

If you use checks to pay all of your expenses, you will have a running total of where your money goes.

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