For the last few months we have been serious about tracking every dollar we spend. I keep a notebook attached to the refrigerator where I write down what we spend each day. I also have a clip on the fridge so that my husband and I can attach receipts. I go through every couple days and write out all the receipts by date onto the notebook. The key is to make sure you get a receipt for everything you purchase or at least write it down as soon as you can so that you don't forget what you spent.
The fist month (March) we started tracking I wrote everything down by date and then every week I would add up that weeks expenses. At the end of the month I could compare what went out vs what came in. At this point I really wasn't paying attention to what we were spending our money on just how much we were spending.
The second month I continued to write down everything but this time at the end of the month I tallied up what we spent on our variable expenses. My main focus was gas, entertainment, dining out, and groceries. I was stunned to see at the end of the month what we spent on some of these things.
By May I started something new. I would post on the fridge what my budgeted amount for the month was for each of these variable expenses. For example we budget $500 a month for groceries. Each time we spent money on groceries I would subtract it from the monthly total. This way I always knew exactly what we had left to spend for that month.
This worked a lot better and I have continued to follow our expenses each month. It keeps me on track with how much and what we are spending our money on. Do you track your expenses?