Take a look at this video http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25600619#25600619 about cutting down the weekly/monthly budget from the things in our control.
During my past few years in the US, when the topic comes up about budgeting, monthly expenditure and so on, the top most items people talk about or at least perceive as most spent on, in any given month are [not in any particular order] (a) Clothing (b) eating out. And these are outside of regular fixed costs like rent/mortgage, car payments, phones, cable TV, etc etc…
I think Two factors to be considered for budgeting are the Fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are inevitable (depends) and not always in our control; where as variable costs are in our control that can be reduced or increased.
Most of the articles talk about cutting down on Eating Out, Movie theatres, impulsive buying of clothing as top most. Well, now-a-days it is about gas, encouraging people to use ride-share, carpooling, transit systems, etc.
My wife and I at times wonder if there were any other pointers in such articles outside of eating out or buying clothing. We always kept budget for our eating out (approx $40 together per month), and our clothing (around $300 for 6 months). and we also have a budget for international calls we make.
We often eat home food So cutting down on eating out is not really an option. Even with a 3year old at home, we still prefer home food and not really go out for lunch/dinner. We pack our lunch from home. We were pretty much always under the budget for clothing, under the budget for gas (unless few instances).
When it comes to day trips, we often pack our food for 1 or 2 days. We also tag along our little electric rice cooker so that we could cook some rice within 30mins. Well, a motivating factor is also that we don’t eat outside and being vegetarians, we don’t find the vegetarian food that we can eat everywhere we go, so that makes it even more a necessity to pack our own food, thereby cutting eating down budget.
Well, looking from outside, we always wonder, how most people here manage their money in spite of buying lunch almost every day (which is at least about $6 per meal in cafeteria, and $15 at restaurants) .
MSNBC video I mentioned above shared just that – being able to cut down on eating out (pack food for travel, work, pot luck dinners), washing car yourself, buying bulk.
Look at the FrugalDad, TheSimpleDollar and any other articles on MSN money   or MSNBC financial about personal budgeting, they most often point to eating home food, buying bulk when possible, cut coupons, save on gas, etc. I have also noticed about looking for better car/home insurance deals where some people end up paying more. [note: these are just my observations, I am sure I might have missed other pointers that could potentially answer my situation]