Let Me Show You Which Budgeting Style Works for You

Question: do you know your own budgeting style?

Kinda? Loosely?

Is it working?

Kinda? Not really?

Well now’s a good time as any to improve on your budgeting style, try a different one, or maybe find out the name of the method you’re doing now. You may find a style that may work better for your personality, or even help you to achieve specific goals (ie paying off debt).

See if you can find your description in any of the budgeting styles below…

#1 – You’re paying off debt / Weaning bad credit card swiping habit – use the Cash Envelope System

What is it: A cash-only budgeting style

How it works: You stuff literal cash in literal envelopes, each earmarked for different expense categories, and only spend from there. If the money is gone, the spending stops.

In Malaysia, Siti Sabidi is well-known for promoting this method. She also sells cash envelope wallet sets and offers group coaching sessions, so go check that out!


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You can find a lot of resources for the Cash Envelope method. I suggest going on a Youtube binge – you can see how individuals and families use and tweak this budgeting style to suit their life.

Not really into this budgeting style? Well, perhaps…

#2 – You like making notes and knowing where your money went – expense-tracking (manual or app)

What is it: Record and track every cent, categorising them under its relevant expense categories.

How it works: You review the data and make spending adjustments in the following months. I like it because there’s an element of shock factor that tends to work for behavioural change. For example, if Eating Out category exceeded [amount you’re comfortable with] last month, then you may make time for meal planning and prepping next month.

This is my preferred budgeting style, but I know its (1) hard to pick a platform that suits you (there are SO MANY to choose from), and (2) the habit can be hard to stick to (unless you use an automated one like HeyAlfred).

Read tips that worked for me in How Expense Tracking Looks Like (As Someone Who Doesn’t Budget) article.

If you enjoy micromanaging and want to know EXACTLY which money went where and making sure your data and bank account tallies, you can read up the principles behind Zero-based Budgeting. The tagline is ‘give every dollar a job’. It’s a bit too intense for me but whatever works.

Budget Update August 2020

#2.1 – You are #2 AND a spreadsheet geek – Excel budget spreadsheet

This is a subset of team expense-tracking. No apps or platforms are good enough for you, or have enough personalisation, so you do it yourself via Excel spreadsheet. You complain about it but secretly love doing the formatting merge cells all (you may ‘cheat’ by downloading a budget spreadsheet then customising it yourself).

Tip: Bet you didn’t know Google has a free Monthly budget template. Go to Google Sheets and find it in the Template Gallery.

budgeting style

#3 – You’re lazy to track expenses – the 50/30/20 method

What it is: 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings. The ratio is completely adjustable; for example, you might want a higher savings rate, so you might do 50% savings, 25% needs and 25% wants. I know some personal finance Instagrammers especially like to show their high savings rate!

How it works: Order of priority: Savings-Needs-Wants, regardless of ratio. You ‘pay yourself first’ by transferring xx% of your salary to your savings/retirements/emergency/investment accounts. After that’s done, you calculate and pay for life’s necessities (Food+ Transportation+ Accommodation+ Miscellaneous Needs liddat), then only spend the rest on whatever you want.

Which budgeting style do you use?

Do you fit squarely in one of the budgeting styles mentioned, or do you use a little bit of each? What are your top tips in making and sticking to a budget?

Let me know in the comments section!




  1. Can I say almost all? Haha.

    After receiving my salary, I’ll divide it into 50/30/20. Then on a spreadsheet, I’ve listed where would the 50/30/20 go. Then after listing that, I would then put it in a separate envelope or ewallet type thing.

    Although, I always recommend people to do the 50/30/20 rule. It is easier to determine what purchase is actually achievable with my current situation.

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