by Tara Blaine

Budgeting Strategies to Fit Your Life

Whether you’re making your first or fifty-first budget, choosing a budget strategy can be a challenge. Never fear! Check out these three classic approaches, and you’ll be feeling like a financial whiz kid.
Budgeting Strategies Hero

You want to get on top of your finances—but how do you start? Which budgeting strategies work best? Whose budget advice should you actually follow? Should you just hide your money in your mattress??

Here’s a little secret: when it comes to budget strategies, there is no one “correct” way to do it. Managing your money is all about finding the personal finance strategy that works best for your unique circumstances and preferences.

So whether you’re making your first foray into budgeting or just looking to switch up your approach, read on to get the low-down on three classic budgeting methods.

Types of budgeting strategies

While many people just wing it when planning their finances, it’s helpful to have a framework to guide your decision-making. Three of our faves: 50/30/20, envelope, and zero-based budgeting. Depending on your money picture, one might be a perfect fit, while another might be the financial-planning equivalent of an itchy sweater. So try them on and see what’s comfortable for you.

1. 50/30/20 budget

It can be tough to decide how to balance your spending across essentials, fun stuff, savings, and debt. The 50/30/20 rule is a solid starting point: you allocate 50% of your income to “needs” (things you can’t live without), 30% to “wants” (things you could live without, but you’d like to have ), and 20% to saving up and paying down debt. And you can flex the percentages to fit your life!

Here’s your complete guide to 50/30/20 budgeting.

2. Envelope method

If you want a set-it-and-forget-it budget, you might like the envelope method. You make an envelope (physical or digital) for each of your monthly expenses, fill it with the money you’ve set aside for that expense, and then take the envelope with you when you shop! Once your envelope is empty, you know you’ve reached your spending limit for the month.

Learn how to make an envelope budget in 5 easy steps.

3. Zero-based budgeting

Do you ever have that “but where does the money go?” feeling? With a zero-based budget, you’ll know! The concept is simple: every month, your income minus your expenses must equal zero. You decide what to do with every dollar—simple and satisfying.

Get the deets on zero-based budgeting.

Experimenting with these time-tested tools can help you find the perfect personal finance strategy! And remember, you can always switch it up and try new budget strategies as your financial world changes.

No matter which method you follow, your Simple account has built-in, flexible tools to help you make a plan—and stick to it! Read about how Expenses and Goals make staying on track easy. And your real-time Safe-to-Spend® amount is always instantly accessible, so you can spend spontaneously with confidence.

Ready to take a budgeting strategy for a spin?

Whether you already know what budgeting strategy is right for you or you want to take a few for a test drive, we’ve put together some budget templates to help you out! Give them a try—just enter your numbers and the templates do the math for you—and enjoy the confidence that comes from having your money management dialed in.

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: We do our best to make sure information is accurate as of the date of publication, but things do change quickly sometimes. Any outbound links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA USA, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. Individual situations will differ; consult your favorite finance, tax or legal professional for specific advice. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.

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