This post is in response to an excellent reader question.
I find that the best budgeting tool is a small notebook, rather than on-line software. I buy books with columns that are set up for keeping financial records but a simple notebook or some foolscap in a binder would work too. You can get them from any store (Zellers, Staples, etc) for less than $10.
One advantage of the book is that it is hacker proof.
It is also easy to use and cheap to purchase.
On-line software is good too but it tends to suck time out of your day if you find yourself using the chart and budget tool too often. Let's be honest, it doesn't matter how often you stare at the numbers, they are always the same. If you do want software, use a simple and cheap program like Microsoft works. This software should already be available on your home computer and won't cost you anything.
I've used Quicken in the past and it was easy to use but expensive to purchase. There are other good programs available too.
Just be careful. You don't want the act of budgeting to take up too much of your time. It is a tool to help you meet your life goals - not an end in itself. Budgeting should not be a black hole that eats up all your spare time. Also, budgeting is not an end in itself, it is merely a tool to get you to where you want to be over time.
If you want to find a way to live the good life without spending more than needed, you can try setting up a price book. This can be as simple as a little excel spreadsheet that lists all your favourite grocery and drug store items. Then you look through the weekend flyers of your favourite stores and write down the prices of each of your chosen products. Sometimes the savings can be dramatic and once your spreadsheet is set up you won't need to spend much time on it at all.
Have fun and don't forget to drop your calculator and go outside for a nice walk once in a while to clear the mind.