Spend less than you make.
Pay yourself first.
Have a plan.
Even if you don’t respond well to rules, as the original poster says she doesn’t, sometimes it still helps to know what they are. As my writing teacher used to say, follow a rule until you can explain why you’re breaking it.
Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics, ideas that apply to everyone, whether they’re struggling paycheck to paycheck or putting millions in the bank for retirement.
Not everyone is the same, but this Back to Basics thread still has information that just about everyone can use.