The 5 Best Budgeting Methods To Help You Afford Your Dream Life
Here’s the deal:
You need to have a budgeting method that works if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, never stress about money again, and be able to afford your dream life.
This is important, though — a budgeting method that works for me, might not work for you.
I’ve rounded up the five best budgeting methods for you to learn about, test out, and use for your finances.
Since starting to budget (using an automated method), I always have enough money for bills, necessities, and fun, I’ve paid off over $6,000 in debt, and have saved more money than I ever thought possible.
If that sounds like something you want for your finances, keep reading to discover the best budgeting method for you!
What are the 5 best budgeting methods?
Throughout this post, we’ll be going over each budgeting method in detail, explaining how to get started, how to set up your budget, and more.
The 5 budgeting methods that we’ll be covering are:
For more in-depth explanations of any of the budgeting methods listed, simply click on their link to be brought to their ultimate guide!
- How To Start Budgeting (When You Don’t Know Where To Start)
- The Automated Budgeting Method (So Your Budget Never Fails!)
- Budget-By-Paycheck: Everything You Need To Know
- The Zero-Based Budget: Take Control Of Your Finances Today
- 50/30/20 Budget: How To Get Started
- The Cash Envelope System: How To Stop Poor Spending Habits
- How To Track Your Budget So It Doesn’t Fail
1. the BUDGET-BY-PAYCHECK BUDGETING METHOD
Budgeting by paycheck is a great budgeting method to get started with because it is simple and straightforward.
With this budgeting method, you’re simply going to create a plan for your money every time you get paid.
To get started, you’re going to need:
1. Your pay schedule (and average take-home pay)
2. Your bill due dates & amounts
3. A calendar
Then, once you’ve gathered your resources, you can plan out your budget by paycheck.
Simply follow these steps:
1. Mark on your calendar each time you will be paid and for how much money
2. Record each time you have a bill due and for how much money on your calendar
Pro Tip: Use different colored pens for each week
It should look like this:
After you’ve filled out your budget by paycheck calendar, you can:
- easily calculate each pay cycles budget
- visualize how much money you have for food, gas, and other necessities
- calculate how much money you’ll need from your last paycheck for next weeks bills (if applicable)
This is what your final budget by paycheck calendar should look like:
(If you prefer a mobile option to budget by paycheck, I highly recommend checking out calendarbudget.com.)
The best part about using a budget by paycheck method is that:
Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a big deal anymore and you’ll always be able to easily see how much spare money you have for savings, debt repayment, and fun!
A budget by paycheck budgeting method is hands down the easiest!
Contrary to what a budget-by-paycheck may sound like, this budget will help you STOP living paycheck to paycheck. And FAST.
2. THE AUTOMATED BUDGETING METHOD
An automated budgeting method is my current budgeting obsession.
Why do you ask?
Well, when you automate your budget, you can kinda, well, stop budgeting.
This sounds counterintuitive but hear me out:
- ensure you always have the right amount of money in your account for bills
- allow you to automatically save money and pay down debt
- free up money for personal spending
To get started, follow these steps:
1. Calculate your total monthly income (after taxes)
2. Calculate your total monthly fixed expenses
3. Calculate your total monthly variable expenses
4. Calculate how much extra money you have each month
Next, you’re going to need to open multiple bank accounts. You’ll need:
- 1 account for your fixed expenses (bills)
- 1 account for your variable expenses (food, gas, etc.)
- 1-3 accounts for savings (if you are saving for multiple things and like the separation)
- 1 account for debt repayment
- 1 personal spending account
This seems like a lot of bank accounts, but you’ll understand the method to my madness in a sec.
Now that you’ve outlined your finances and opened [what seems like too many] bank accounts, you can finish automating your budget by doing some simple math.
1. Divide your total fixed expenses by your total monthly income – This is the percentage of your paycheck that should be directly deposited into your bank account for bills.
2. Divide your total variable expenses by your total monthly income – This is the percentage of your paycheck that should be directly deposited into your variable expenses account.
3. Divide your extra monthly income by your total monthly income – This is how many percents you have left to divvy up among your savings account(s), debt repayment account, and personal spending account.
Stay with me, you’re almost done learning how to never budget again!
The final piece of the puzzle is to set up automatic bill pay so your bills will be automatically withdrawn from your bills account when they are due.
Then, you’re done!
The best part is:
When you’re finished setting up this budget, you’ll always have enough money in all your accounts for your lifestyle and you’ll never, ever miss a due date!
Related Reading: How To Automate Your Budget So You Never Have To Budget Again
3. THE 50/30/20 Budgeting Method
The 50/30/20 budgeting method is a percent based budget system that divides your monthly income into three different categories.
The categories included in a 50/30/20 budget are:
- 50% for your needs (essential expenses)
- 30% for your wants (personal spending)
- 20% for saving (or debt repayment)
Here’s the deal about this budgeting method:
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, a 50/30/20 budget probably won’t work for you — it is too restrictive.
But, if you have plenty of cash and want to start spending it more responsibly, this budget is perfect for you.
To create a 50/30/20 budget follow these steps:
1. Calculate your monthly income after taxes
2. Multiply your monthly income by 0.5 to see how much you should be spending on your needs
3. Multiply your monthly income by 0.3 to see how much you should be spending on your wants
4. Multiply your monthly income by 0.2 to see how much you should be saving
If you find that you’re overspending in a certain category, cut costs with these helpful tips.
Related Reading: How To Use The 50/30/20 Budgeting Method To Rock Your Finances
4. The cash envelope system
I don’t doubt that you’ve seen something about the Cash Envelope System on Pinterest.
This budgeting method is all the rage these days.
Here’s how it works:
You break down your budget into categories, as usual. Then, place cash for each category into a designated envelope and spend accordingly.
Using cash is advantageous because it gives you a visual representation of how much money you have to spend each month after you pay your bills.
To start using the cash envelope system, withdraw money from each paycheck for your envelopes such as for groceries, gas, and personal spending.
If you have a grocery budget of $400 per month and are paid $650 weekly, you will withdraw $100 in cash each week for your grocery envelope. And so forth.
Here’s the deal, though:
To make this budgeting method work, you must not take money from other envelopes to cover overspending in another budget category.
Make sure you’re sticking to your budget by tracking your spending in a budget binder.
Could using cash be the answer to all your money problems?
Get the rundown on the cash envelope system of budgeting and find out for yourself!
5. zero-based budgeting method
The zero-based budgeting method is perfect for control freaks (like me!)
The concept of this method is simple: The sum after subtracting your monthly expenses from your monthly income is zero.
This does not mean, though, that you’ve spent all of your money.
It means this:
All of your money has either been spent OR has been transferred into an account for such things as saving, debt repayment, personal spending, etc.
Who is this budgeting method meant for?
A zero-based budget is kickass for anybody trying to pay down debt or save money quickly because you will be intentional with your money.
There is no room for poor spending habits when you use a zero-based budget, ensuring that all your hard-earned cash is being used efficiently.
Related Reading: How To Use A Zero-Based Budget To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck
How to track your budget (So it doesn’t fail)
Almost as important as creating a budget is your ability to track your budget.
Because let’s face it: If you do not track your budget, you will not stick to it.
I know this because this was me (and probably you, too).
I mean, who can stick to a budget when they can’t keep track of how much money they’re making or spending?
To help you track your budget for financial success, I recommend using these:
1. The Budget Boss Binder – $9 ($27 value)
A 40+ page printable and digital budget binder designed to help you track your spending, your bill pay, your debt repayment goals, and your savings goals. Included you’ll find budgeting templates, daily spending logs, bill pay checklists, and more. Our Budget Boss Binder is un-dated so you can use it forever! Click the button below to see what you’ll get.
SAVE $18 RIGHT NOW
When you act fast, you can download our best-selling Budget Boss Binder for only $9! But, quick! This deal ends tonight at midnight!
2. Honey Money ($50 value)
Honey Money is an online resource to track your budget. Within your dashboard, you can create your budget, track your budget, create debt repayment and savings goals, and more. If you aren’t a pen and paper kinda person, I highly recommend this budget tracking resource.
It’s Time for you to Take Action!
You’ve completed the first step on your budgeting journey: Researching (and hopefully choosing) one of the best budgeting methods for your lifestyle.
Now, it’s time to move onto step two:
Creating, implementing, and sticking to your budget!
Here are some action steps to help you get started:
1. Choose one of these budgeting methods (if you haven’t already)
2. Use a template for your budgeting method (or create your own) and write down your budget
4. Review your budget in a month and make adjustments (if necessary)
If you’d like a step-by-step guide to setting up your first budget, sign up for our free Budget Boss eCourse below!
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