Guilty pleasures, everyone has them.  In your budget, they’re the things you can’t resist buying.  The things you later regret buying.  The things you wish you could take back when you can’t pay your credit card bill.  Even in a budget crunch, you’ll find yourself making room for your guilty pleasure.

When it comes to recognizing your budget’s guilty pleasure, the signs may be there, but what you really need are cold hard facts.  If you want to find out what you spend most of your money on, it’s time to do some number crunching.

Depending on how you spend, there are two ways you can figure out your weak spot.

1. If you mostly spend cash, you’ll need to save your receipts for a certain period of time.  Two weeks to a month should be enough time to recognize a pattern.

2. If you use a check card, you can download your transactions into a spreadsheet and look at them.  Some online banking systems only allow you to download into a personal finance software like Quicken or Microsoft Money.  If this is the case, you can copy and paste into Excel.  Or, you can still use the receipt saving method.

Ultimately, you want to get a detailed list of spending in one place.  Categorize your spending, e.g. Food, Utilities, Transportation, Entertainment, Miscellaneous, etc.

Once you’ve grouped your spending, look for high spending in areas like food, entertainment, and miscellaneous.  This will clue you in to what your budget’s guilty pleasure might be.  Are you eating out a lot?  Buying a lot of clothes?  Spending money on DVDs?

When you figure out what you’re spending your money on, the next step is cutting back (or eliminating) your spending in that area.  How do you do that?  Well, it takes some old-fashioned self-discipline.