Keeping track of household finances is always a good idea, not only to make sure your household falls within the budget set, but also to see where extra money might be going that could be better allocated to other facets of your life. Maybe you want to start saving a bit more each month, but feel you just don't have the means to do so; having a solid grasp on household finances will help you reach your goals, no matter what they may be.
There are a few different ways to go about keeping financial records, and they don't have to be expensive. First, you should gather all of your bills together; be sure to collect everything that you pay in a month - autos, insurance, cable, phone, rent or mortgage and the like. Once you're sure you have all of the bills that you pay every month, it's time to hunt for receipts that you may have saved from purchases; if you don't have receipts, you can get a printout of your transactions from the bank, or credit card company. Next it's time to gather up all forms of income via paystubs, check stubs, or online deposit invoices. After all forms of income have been noted, compare the amount of income coming in to the amount of bills going out each month.
You can keep track of finances in a simple notebook or steno pad if you feel you can track everything accurately. Label one side of the page "Spending" or "Bills", and the other side "Income". Write down all of the bills you pay and their amounts. You can do this for each month, to get an idea of your spending to income ratio. This will help budget where extra money might be going, and whether you need to cut down on one area or spend more in another.
If you feel that the notebook option is something you aren't able to do, whether you might lose it or forget to write in it, or just for security reasons, there are financial programs online to help you budget as well as software you can install directly on your computer. From a search engine online, type in "free online budget" or "budget software" to find the program that best fits your needs. Sometimes the budget worksheet might be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or it can be more advanced, to help you minimize spending in some areas or pinpoint exactly what areas need work in your financial budgeting system.
Whatever method you do end up choosing, make sure it's one you're comfortable using, and feel like you can stick with. Economic ups and downs are something we all experience at one time or another, and keeping financial records will help you keep on track.