Budgets come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s one out there for everyone! Whether you’re just starting your financial journey or are a little farther ahead in the game, finding a budget that fits you is an important step in improving your financial standing. Finding the right budget can be a difficult task, but we’re here to help! We’re going to take a look at the most common budgeting methods a little more in depth to get you started.
- Zero Based Budgeting is where you take every dollar into account. Every dollar has a specific task to perform and nothing is left to whim. Your expenses match exactly what your income is, so you’re left with zero at the end of the month. Now, this doesn’t mean you’re spending all of that money because this budget also takes things such as savings accounts and 401ks into account. It’s a good budget for people who like to be in total control of their money, but not so great for the free spirit. There is very little wiggle room in this type of budget and it can be rather time consuming. If you don’t have the time to keep up with this budgeting method, or need a little bit of breathing room, it may not be the right one for you.
- Percentage Methods can be good for those who don’t want to track every dollar. Instead of having a dozen categories to worry about, you’ll only have two or three. By using the “Money Balance Formula,” 50% of income goes to needs, 20% to savings, and 30% to wants. But, this method of budgeting is very distinct on what is a need and what is a want. So, if that doesn’t quite do it for you, you can give the “60% Solution” method a try. With this budget, 60% goes to needs (which includes everything you pay bills for even if you don’t necessarily need it), 30% to savings, and 10% for fun. Of course, there are other percentage methods out there to take a look at! Though, because you aren’t looking at every aspect, it may be easy to overspend or become lazy in tracking your finances. It can also be difficult to maintain this type of budget due to a lower income. So, that’s also a consideration to make in choosing to use percentages.
- The Envelope Method is completely money based! You delegate an envelope for every monthly expenditure you’ll have. Then you take your money out of the bank and place it in the envelopes to use. But, once the money in that envelope is gone, you’re done spending on that category for the month. It can be a great method if you’re trying to spend less. You’ll be leaving debit and credit cards at home with this one, so there’s no temptation to swipe your plastic while at the store. However, you need to be careful not to misplace your money. You wouldn’t want to accidentally lose all of that hard work! But, a bigger issue may be how easy it can be to simply spend the money because it’s in your home, so this one may not be the greatest for people who live by impulse.
- Create-Your-Own Method. So, you’ve looked at the potential budgeting methods and even tried a couple out, but none of them seem to be the one. That’s okay! You can pick and choose aspects of different methods that work for you, combine them, and create your own way of budgeting. This method can be great for the adventurous and inventive types.
These are the most popular types of budgets, but not the only ones by any means. If after some extra research, none of these seem like the one, feel free to look at some others! Learn everything you can about the type of budget you think will work for you and commit to it! It may not be perfect. But this is about progress, not perfection.
If you’ve got a method that isn’t listed above or have created your own, feel free to share it in the comments below!