Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' ~Luke 14:28-30
Whether you make $1000/month or $10,000/month, everybody wants more. We think, "if only we had an extra $xxx each month, we'd be fine." But it never works that way. Whatever your income, you need to make a budget for that amount- and then stick to it. It doesn't matter how your money is allocated, it matters that your expenses are less than your income.
My husband loves excel spreadsheets. He developed one for our budget and we track all of our monthly expenses. (A program like Microsoft Money does the same thing.) I recently looked back at what was included in that budget those years right after the layoff. Here were our line items: tithe, house, food, electricity, water, gas, phone, garbage, car insurance, vehicle (gas), school loans. I'm not going to include how much was budgeted for each item, because that would be too shocking for you. There weren't any new clothes, no babysitter, no dinner out, no cell phone, no internet, no movies, no gifts, no extras of any sort at all. We did not use credit cards, and were continuing to pay down our debt. We continued to tithe, but did have to give up our extra giving.
Slowly, as my husband recieved raises and bonuses, we added some of those extras to our list, but still not at a very high dollar amount. Some of those categories need to build up over the course of a couple of months before some purchases. Clothing, for example, is only budgeted at $25/month. What if we need new shoes? We save up in that envelope. I'll write more about envelopes later.
If you need a jumpstart on budgeting. There are many resources out there to help you out. We were doing pretty well on our own, but Dave Ramsey's materials helped us fine tune our system. I've also heard many good things about Crown's resources. Better Budgeting has some resources I've also found helpful.
So, cut those credit cards up, budget your monthly expenses, and save up for the things you want the most. You'll be glad you did.