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The most effective way to add financial security to your life for the long term is by taking control of your spending habits, which then allows you to save on a regular basis.

This can be a challenging task and certain options will be more useful for certain people given their finances. Some people may choose to get a feel for how the average American spends their paycheck and use this to guide their spending. You can check this data by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures Survey, and filter the results down to the categories you’d fall into.

The most commonly recommended method is a budget plan, using your actual income and expenses to come up with a realistic amount that you should be able to save. You can have a budget created by either having an accountant prepare one for you, or doing it yourself. To have an accountant prepare your budget, you’d need to submit all of your income and expense habits, as well as your goals and let him or her draft the budget for you.

To prepare a budget yourself, we recommend using either a software program or online site, such as www.Mint.com to guide you through your budget creation. This site can access all of your financial accounts and retrieve your transaction history to set a starting point of what you are already spending so you can see the totals and cut them down as suitable. It will then frequently check back into your accounts and update your actual spending as compared to the budget. From there you can create goals and monitor the goals as you progress throughout the year.

These are simple ways to keep a budget and stay on top of your spending. This can help you to save money over the long and help improve your long term financial prospects.