Perhaps you realize that budgeting is important, but you just can't muster the energy to tackle it. If so, instead of thinking of it as an enormous lifestyle change that will have you miserably pinching pennies for the rest of your life, focus on the positives.

Try thinking of it as a game -- or something close to that. Or think of it as one of those quizzes you take in a magazine or online to learn more about yourself. People who budget know a lot about themselves, and they often end up financially better off as a result. In many cases, figuring out where your money comes from and where it goes may even liberate you to some degree. You may learn that you have more money than you think!

Another strategy is to remember that budgeting is not nearly as ghastly and painful as you might assume. It can be done fairly simply. First, just track where your money is going for a few weeks, then rearrange your spending so that your dollars are going where you want them to -- to things you really need (house payments, food, medicine) and really want (music lessons, books, baseball tickets), and not so much for things you could easily live without.

For lots of ideas on how to save money, visit our Living Below Your Means discussion board. To learn from fellow budgeters, drop in on our Budgeting discussion board. In previous columns, read about budgeting worksheets, reasonable household expenses, and calculating annual spending rates.

To learn more ways to save money and spend less, check out our Personal Finance area, which is packed with guidance on insurance, buying a car or home, paying for college, banking, setting up short-term savings, getting out of debt, lowering your tax bill, and more.

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