From USA Today Money
The easiest way to boost your savings rate is by first understanding where your money is going. Ask working Americans how much they make and you’re liable to get a precise answer. However, ask them where their money went once it was deposited into their bank accounts, and the shoulder shrugging begins.
Formulating, and sticking to, a budget can help middle-class Americans and their families live within their means. By apportioning funds to specific spending categories you’ll have a much better idea of what your cash flow actually looks like.
This should allow you to set aside money that can be used to pay down existing debts or to invest for your future. Best of all, a budget can be adjusted as needed, since ultimately you’re in control.
Few people can make this work and who cares what your cash flow looks like?
Rather, look at your gross paycheck. Whatever that is take a percentage (at least 5% and ideally more) and arrange for it to be automatically invested (noticed I didn’t say saved) through your employers 401k or your own long-term, tax-advantaged investment plan. Do it pre-tax or in an account that will remain tax-free for earnings. Never withdraw this money until you are ready to retire.
After doing both of the above you have the income (after taxes) that forms your standard of living. Whatever you may buy (including fixed expenses like utilities) or borrow must fit into your new net income, your disposable income. In addition, this must never include the use of credit cards that are not paid in full before any interest is incurred.
You don’t need a budget, go buy whatever you want.
PS As your income rises also increase your savings rate by a portion of any raise.