The number one rule to financial success: spend less than you earn. And the best way to do that is to keep track of what you spend. Here are 10 tricks for crafting the perfect budget (and sticking to it).

10. Start From Scratch

If you have a budget that isn’t working from you, wipe the slate clean and start over. If you haven’t really created a successful budget before, start with the basics: how much do you spend on bills every month? How much are you/would you like to invest? How much would you like to save and spend? Once you’ve divided up your money into those basic categories, you have a pretty good foundation to build a more specific budget—even if you don’t have a regular paycheck. Photo by Bradipo.
9. Account for Every Dollar

Building off #10, make sure that you’ve accounted for every dollar you make. That sounds overly meticulous, but it isn’t: all it means is that you should “spend” all your money in your budget each month. And that doesn’t necessarily mean spending it on stuff—it could mean saving it or putting it toward your 401(k). Some people do better with reverse budgeting, but for most of us, splitting your pay into categories is the best way to make sure it’s all accounted for.

8. Focus on What Really Matters