I don’t care what the dictionary says. “Budget” is a four-letter word. Words matter, and that word has a lot of baggage. That’s why I encourage people to change their mindset and call budgets what they really are: spending plans.

A spending plan should be as unique as the person it is tailored to. The overarching theme and strategy should be honesty and practicality. Your spending plan should reflect your lifestyle, so cut yourself some slack, and take a long-term view of your finances. And know that falling off your horse and getting back on it is a time-honored tradition shared by most successful people!

When tracking your progress, remember that there is no reason why you can’t adjust, completely change, or delete aspects of your spending plan that have shown themselves to be unrealistic — the biggest threat to any spending plan is having items that you continually ignore or forget about.

If you feel discouraged because you have “been there, done that,” with spending plans — i.e., made a plan that you didn’t stick to — it’s time to try it again. It’s the best way to see where you’ve been and where you’re going. It reminds you of your destination and allows you to steer clear of dangerous situations. In a very real way, creating a spending plan adds to your success.

However, no spending plan will succeed if you don’t know where your money is going. If you are still in the process of becoming digital, I highly recommend adopting Quicken or similar software for your accounting needs. With accounting software, you will see a built-in method to categorize each check, debit or deposit. Using a customizable drop-down menu you won’t even have to type the whole word out.

Cash transactions come with receipts, too, and categorizing those does not have to be a chore. Remember George Costanza’s wallet? He could have avoided that backache if he had simply entered his cash receipts into the computer every week.

Without categorization, saving for retirement would require even more guesswork than it already does. With accurate, human-entered and human-verified data serving as the backbone of your fiscal self-awareness, you will be able to accurately evaluate your current spending and then set goals that are realistic for your long-term financial objectives.

It's especially important for young people starting out on their own to come up with a spending plan. They’re usually very cognizant of their rent but once you start throwing in meter readings and weekly cable bill hikes, things can quickly spiral out of control. That is, unless they use a spending plan that anticipates unanticipated expenses.

Let’s be honest: No one really wants to spend less money, just like no one really wants to cut the lawn. Many people abandon their budgets because sticking to them seems overwhelming. I have found that the people who get overwhelmed are usually trying to do too much, too fast. Instead, my advice is to take baby steps before you learn to power walk.

Judy Heft is the CEO/founder of Judith Heft & Associates, a financial and lifestyle concierge celebrating 26 years in business helping people stay financially organized. She is a certified money coach and the author of “How to Be Smart, Successful and Organized with Your Money” and the co-author of “Mastering Your Financial LifeCycles.” She is the host of the podcast “Mastering your Financial Life.” For more information visit www.judithheft.com.