I get it, budgets sound hard. Budgets sound boring. Budgets sound restrictive. This is wrong, however. Budgets equal freedom.
If the word "budget" is giving you pause, call it something else, call it a money flow plan. The name doesn't matter, the awareness of your finances is what matters.
We do a weekly cashflow budget, because we are paid weekly. This just made sense for us. Every Thursday I pull up the excel file and update our numbers and project out each week for the next couple months. My income is steady from my job and my husbands typically varies quite a bit, so we budget off of my regular amount and what a low week would be for my husband.
The chart starts with what we currently have in the bank and then I add in our income for that week. I have line items for the following expenses below:
I then have a subtotal at the end of the week and we always try to stay above $1,000 in our checking account as an extra buffer/emergency fund.
As the week progresses, if things change, I can easily update my numbers and see how that effects both our current week and in the coming weeks.
Each week when I do a budget update, I also update a list of our assets (401k balances, savings accounts, 529, home equity, etc). This part of budgeting is more fun, seeing the numbers grow, so this keeps me motivated each week to do the budget.
If excel isn't your thing, check out Dave Ramsey's Budgeting App EveryDollar or just bust out a pen and some paper and get to work. It may takes some months to get the hang of doing it, but no worries. No one's budget is every perfect. The point is to have a plan and an awareness of what you are doing with your money and where it is going.