Mini-lesson #2: Why 9 out of 10 budgets fail (but yours doesn’t have to)

Most budgets don’t work.

Sure, it’s easy to fill in a budget spreadsheet or a worksheet with how much you earn and how much you think you can spend on different categories.

What’s not so easy is tracking every penny you spend. It’s kind of like counting calories: Most of us simply don’t have the interest, time, or discipline.

And that’s too bad, because setting and following a budget is the only way to ensure you spend less than you earn. And you simply cannot save money, get out of debt, and build wealth until you spend less than you earn.

So what’s a frustrated budgeter to do? In a nutshell: Take advantage of technology.

New tools can track and categorize all of your credit or debit card spending and give you graphical displays of where your money’s going.

Personally, I like because it’s free, easy to set up, and supported by Intuit—the longtime developers of personal finance software Quicken. That said, there are dozens of tools that can help you track your spending automatically—your bank may even offer one through your online account login.

So today’s lesson is simple: Start automatically tracking your spending.

Otherwise, find another free personal finance tool or start making all your monthly purchases with one debit or credit card. However you do it, just don’t leave yourself in charge of tracking your spending, because if you’re anything like most people, you’ll find better things to do!

Read about more budgeting tools, or download Money Under 30’s free budgeting spreadsheet.