If I had ten minutes to share some advice that has has really worked for our family, this would be it: Mint.com
****Keep reading even if you aren't interested in Mint. There is a snowball debt reduction calculator at the end! Excellent for reducing debt quickly!
If you are looking for a free way to track your expenses, I would suggest Mint.com. My husband and I love using Mint. This secure online program allows you to create budgets, track money from multiple accounts, car and mortgage loans, and more!
Also, Mint will budget money out for annual or biannual (or insert annual here) payments. Mint automatically pulls out the $13/month for my newspaper subscription even though I only pay it once a year. Same with our car insurance. This way we don't have to physically save the money out, but it is accounted for in our monthly spending.
Any money left over can be added to a "Goal" budget category. We have savings already budgeted out so we really have not used the goal category. However, this could be your fun money!
Two different budget categories in one transaction? No sweat. Mint allows you to split the transactions into different categories to make budgeting easier! It also lets you rename the transactions. Then, you can search for "Verizon" and ba-da-bing. All of your Verizon expenses appear!
All photos from Mint.comWe hardly use this feature because we have auto-pay bills, but for those who tend to forget, there is always a reminder on the home screen on when your next bill is due!
Mint also has an excellent app. I use it on the go! Always nice to know if I can buy those cute shoes or not! :)
Debt Reduction Calculator
My friend had an excellent blog post about snowball debt reduction. Find it here. The gist of snowball debt reduction is to make minimum payments on all of your debts, pay off the lowest debts first (A), and then take the same amount from debt (A) and apply that + the minimum payment to debt (B). When debt (B) is paid off, take the minimum payment from (A) and (B) to pay off (C) etc. Paying off higher interest loans has advantages, too.
Link to Spreadsheet for Snowball Debt Reduction: http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/debt-reduction-calculator.html
I hope you have learned something! Or at least you were reminded to take a look at your finances!