The Best Budgeting Strategy for Your Personality


Everyone needs to learn how to budget, but you may find that some budgeting tips just don’t work for you. The solution is to match a strategy to your personality. Here are some different options to explore.

1. The Record-Keeper

Some people think they’re sticking to a budget — only for them to realize they have nothing left before the end of the month. If you find yourself in this situation often, you may benefit from taking detailed records. This is an ideal strategy for those who struggle to remember where their money went.

For this strategy to work, you need to track every expense down to the smallest purchase — after all, small things can add up quickly. Make a spreadsheet or use a note-taking app to write down exactly how much you spent and what you bought. It’s important to do this the moment you make a purchase or pay a bill, including monthly subscriptions. It’s best to keep the record in your phone, as that way there will be no need to remember to update your record later.

After a month (or perhaps even just a couple weeks), you’ll have a much better picture of how you’re spending money. You may discover that far more of your budget is going to certain activities than you realized. For instance, you may have developed the habit of buying snacks when you walk through a particular area of campus. Cutting out such expenses could lead to big enough savings that you’re able to save up for something you’ve wanted to buy for a while or have more spending money for fun.

2. The Envelope Strategy

You should use the envelope strategy if you’re trying to pay off debt, you want to pay more of your tuition now to reduce your student loan balance, or you’re prone to making impulse purchases. Originally, the strategy involved placing amounts into physical envelopes and assigning each envelope a different type of expense, such as debt, housing, food, or entertainment. You can adapt the amounts over the months after you gain a better idea of how much you need for each category.

Today, you can do everything digitally with a budgeting app. However, you may like to give the physical envelopes a try first — if this proves too inconvenient, you can switch to the app version.

3. The Zero-Sum Budget

The most complicated strategy is the zero-sum budget. Instead of spending money from this month, you rely on your earnings or allowance from last month. This is a great strategy if your income varies each month.

To use the zero-sum budget strategy, you need to assign every dollar you earn to a category, either using a cash envelope or a spreadsheet. As you’ll need to make sure you always have enough for the essentials, you may need to move money from one category to another if your earnings are lower one month or you have an unexpected expense. The trick is to only touch the money you earned from the previous month — not the current month. By using this strategy, you should find you avoid money problems and even build up some savings.

You’ll have more money to spend if you reduce your housing costs, such as by moving into shared accommodation. Oshawa students can find the perfect housing at Foundry 1805. We have various floor plans to suit all budgets, ranging from four to six bedrooms and with the option of either a private or semi-private room. Book a tour to see our suites and onsite facilities.