5 smart ways to spend and save in 2011
Building a budget starts with knowing where your money is going.
"You want to track every dollar that you spend -- not just the check you write for rent but the small purchases, too," says Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "Once you've done that, you're in a position where you can set some boundaries and identify opportunities to cut expenses."
You don't have to catalog your purchases with paper and pencil. With a range of online budgeting tools and software on the market, visualizing all of your financial data can happen on your computer screen or on your mobile phone.
"Simply seeing where all your money is going will change your behavior," says Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com and general manager of Intuit Inc.
Mint.com is a free service for online users that syncs with all of their banking-related account information. Users can track their money, set realistic budgeting goals, understand their banking account maintenance and ATM fees, and compare how their spending stacks up against national averages.