I've recently taken over managing the money around here at Toben's request. I've created new budget spreadsheets (love that Excel and it's built in formula things!) and am paying close attention to where our money goes.
So we've gone back to the envelope system. This is how my parents budgeted when they first got married. An envelope for everything, filled with a finite amount of cash. When it's gone, it's gone.
I've really only created three main envelopes--an emergency cash stash (Christmas money, sales from things on Craig's list, random cash income), groceries, and gas/car washing. As we put money in or take money out, I'm recording it right on the envelope along with the date. All the change goes back in the envelope, along with any receipts. I keep a running total, so I always know how much is in there.
As we've set a new budget, it's easy to drastically cut what we say we'll spend on something like groceries, but it doesn't always reflect reality. In fact, Toben and I were just talking about how much we've actually spent on groceries this month so far--much higher than we anticipated.
We're really taking this first month to get an accurate record of what we spend. We're cutting back and trying to be frugal, but if we need something we're buying it. And some months are just more expensive than others. This month we ran out of laundry detergent, chicken breasts, cat food, toiletries, and some other expensive things that really raised the grocery bills. But because we bought those things this month, we won't have the same expense next month or the month after.
We've also cut way back on spending money, which has been fine for me since I'm in school all day and never near a store. But it's been much harder for Toben. He loves to spend money! As he's wondering where his money has gone (and the money he's had from my spending money too), we've talked about keeping his spending log. And it's something I'm going to do too.
I've mentioned this idea before--especially with keeping track of time--and it's nothing complicated. Just tucking an index card in your wallet and recording what you spend--every penny. That way you know how much you spent on eating out and all those little things that don't seem to be a big deal but add up quickly.
I've also recently read a great book on money--more in another post.