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What's your budgeting style? Take our quiz

What we'll cover

  • Strategies to add structure to your budget

  • Ways to set your financial goals

  • How apps and online bank accounts can help keep you on track

How would you describe your personal style? Classic? Sporty? Trendy?

Now, what about your budgeting style?

Don’t worry if you don’t know. You’re not alone. Budgeting can be a bit of a four-letter word for many. But just like people have different taste in fashion, your approach to budgeting isn’t going to be the same as everyone else. An understanding of your personality and your financial goals can steer you towards the right budgeting path for you.

If you thrive on process

Clearly set rules and boundaries are your jam. And you need a budgeting approach that does the same. The 50/30/20 budget is a good place to start because it neatly splits your spending and saving: 50% to essentials, 30% to wants and 20% to savings.

If those guidelines don’t seem like enough structure, get even more detailed with a line item budget . Break out those Excel skills because this approach tracks all spending, line by line. By monitoring what you spend, you can better map out future expenses and budget against them, keeping all of your ducks (and essential costs) in a row.

For when seeing is believing

Some savers benefit from seeing their money right in front of them. Literally. For those who need that physical reminder, envelope budgeting can be a real life saver.

With this approach, you literally set cash aside for each of your monthly spending and saving categories. By physically divvying up your money, you’ll see exactly how much you have left to spend, minimizing the risk of going over budget. This method can also help curb those impulse buys.

Pro Tip: Want to try this method, sans cash? Apps or bank accounts, like Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account , offers buckets (aka digital envelopes) to keep your cash organized.

If you live for the finish line

We all need goals. They keep us moving forward. And whether you’re saving for a house, kickstarting your retirement or putting money aside for a well-deserved vacation, a budget style that can keep up with your dreams is essential.

Zero-sum budgeting can be a great way to start setting money aside by only using the previous month’s income to finance the current month. And to make this approach go further, if you reach the end of the month and haven’t reached your spending limit, don’t roll it over. Consider putting the funds in your emergency fund, towards your vacation (an extended getaway, perhaps?) or to pay back debt.

If that doesn’t quite sound like the right fit for you, the pay yourself budgeting method also lends itself towards savings goals. Essentially, when you get paid, you immediately (and automatically) put a set percentage into savings. This approach can also be applied to debt repayment and made even simpler by automating the process with regular small payments.

You do you

The most important thing to remember when finding your budgeting style is that it can be as unique as you are. You can mix and match or invent your own hybrid approach. What matters most is that you’re taking control of your financial future in a way that you know you’ll stick to.

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