The Latest Smart Budgeting Tips That Actually Work

With U.S. consumer debt being $13.86 trillion, Americans are buried in debt. 

Smart budgeting may seem impossible if you have no idea where to start. Below, we have some of the top budgeting systems that have been proven to work. 

Starting Your Smart Budgeting Journey

In a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by ValuePenguin, 20% of those people spent more than they earned. Too many people don’t have their finances under control. Developing a smart budgeting strategy helps force you to pay monthly necessities, think about every purchase, and start saving your money.

Companies have their budgeting systems and need to set aside money to pay their employees every pay period using services like and so do individual people. 

If you’re new to the budgeting game and before you choose a method, you need to know how much money you bring in every month after taxes and how much is spent on necessities. 

Track everything for a month; every bill and every expense. This gives you a better understanding of what comes in and what goes out. 

Once you know what you make and what you spend, start budgeting. 

The Envelope System

Also known as the envelope budgeting method, this system is visual. Credit and debit cards make it too easy to spend.

The envelope method is about physically portioning out your household’s monthly income towards different spending categories. This is a great budgeting system for people who have no idea how much they spend in one month, and seeing it physically in front of you makes it easier to track.  


With this method, expenses are broken into three categories: needs (50%), wants (30%), and saving or debt (20%). Your needs are housing, utilities, groceries, insurance, and car payments. Your wants are hobbies, eating out, and shopping. 

Making a list of your wants and needs makes it easier to cut out anything unnecessary. If more money needs to go to your monthly necessities, shift money to that category from your discretionary section. The most important part is knowing the difference between your needs and your wants.

The “No” Budget

The “no” budget strategy is exactly how it sounds: saying no to the things you don’t need. It’s all about discipline.

Before you start this method, compare last month’s paycheck and your bank statements. If what you make in a single month is more than your expenses, the “no” budget is a good option.  

Zero-Based Budget

This method boils down to your income minus expenses are equal to zero. Because of this, your numbers need to be accurate. Calculate your income and adding up your expenses and savings should equal that number. 

If your goal is to be debt-free, the zero-based budget is a great strategy.

Pay-Yourself-First Budget 

If your goal is saving and debt repayment, the pay-yourself-first budget is a good fit. 

Write down your income after taxes and all of your expenses for the month. Subtract your expenses from your income and that’s what you put towards debt and savings. If you’re serious about paying off debt as quickly as possible, this is the strategy for you. 

How Are You Smart Budgeting? 

Smart budgeting is about finding the right strategy and having self-discipline. Because so many people struggle financially, budgeting needs to be a part of everyone’s life. The hard part is knowing where to start.

If you’re interested in learning more about personal finance, check out our other finance articles!   

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