I'm a student of Dave Ramsey (on Twitter @DaveRamsey) and his common sense take on money management. To sum it up: Use your money the way grandma and grandpa did. If you don't need it, then don't buy it. And what you think you "need" you really don't. It is not a revolutionary plan. But with marketing geniuses knowing how to tug at the heartstrings of your pocket book it is a great reminder of how to manage money.
Please keep in mind that I have never bought any of Dave's books or materials. Not that I'm against it but I figured if I can check out his books from the library to get me started then I'll keep doing that until I find I need to purchase his material. (I will take his money management class whenever I get engaged because being of the same financial mindset is important to a strong relationship.)
Moving on ...
For a very long time I stressed about my finances and thought if I had a better paying job my money problems would go away. We all know that is not how it works. Instead, I buckled down, read Dave's "The Total Money Makeover", and was determined to not let something as frivolous as money stress me out.
It is now towards the end of January and I've religiously stuck to my budget since December. I know exactly where my money is going and how it is being used. I don't use my primary debit card at all (I use cash for my purchases). I do have a secondary debit card that I use for sporadic car needs: fuel, repairs, registration, etc. but I don't access that account routinely. I make conscience decisions about what I do such as taking my lunch to work, riding mass transit to save on gas/car maintenance, making homemade laundry detergent, DIY projects around my house, and sticking to a grocery list.
I thought I would feel deprived if I became strict about only using the money I set aside from each paycheck to live my life. But the feeling of deprivation has not come. In fact, I feel relaxed and empowered. I still go out to restaurants but I limit the number of times each week. I still get my nails done at my favorite nail salon but I lengthen the time between visits. Heck, I ordered a pizza the other day because it was "one of those days". My new money management system accounts for all of it.
The best thing ... I look at my bank account and know I'm on target to meet my 2013 goals. What's even better, I'm not going to jeopardize 2014 or beyond. I'm making my future more exciting. I'm living below my means so I can live beyond my dreams. I don't think that is a bad trade off.