4 Different Ways to Budget

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Budgeting is a super important part of most people’s personal finance strategy so they can reach their financial goals with ease. But not everyone goes about budgeting in the same way. In fact, there are lots of different ways to budget. Here are four options to consider, from basic to more advanced.

Pen and Paper


It may seem old-school, but there are still plenty of people who keep track of their budget on pen and paper every month. This method might take the most work to maintain as you have to keep track of receipts and cash spending. If you make a mistake you have to start over to fix your mistakes vs. being able to change one number in a formula if you use a spreadsheet for budgeting, but if you’re just learning how to budget, it can be a great way to get started.

Excel or other Free Budgeting Spreadsheet


I personally use an Excel sheet to track most of my budget, but there are also tons of free budgeting spreadsheets available on the internet. A spreadsheet will take a little work up front to get started. You have to pull in your information, set up formulas, and create reports if you want them. But after that it’s pretty easy to keep it updated from month to month and if you make a mistake, which is bound to happen once in a while, it’s easy to correct a number or formula and move on.

Computer Programs and Online Tools


If you don’t like using a budgeting spreadsheet and you want even more automation, there are lots of computer programs and online tools that you can use to help you with your budget. Some popular ones include Quicken, Quickbooks, and more. These tools also take a little more up-front work, but afterward they are pretty easy to maintain. Many of these programs connect directly to your bank account and can pull in your transaction info as you spend month throughout the month. They do need a little help categorizing some transactions like checks and some debit or credit transactions too.

Budgeting Apps


A great way to have your budget with you wherever you go is to use a budgeting app. Budgeting apps are a lot like the computer programs mentioned above, but the data is also available on your smartphone so you can be aware of your budget no matter where you are. This is a great way to help remind yourself of your budget before you make an impulse purchase or while you are traveling. Plus most of these apps also provide easy to read reports so you can track your spending or budget progress over time.

Budgeting is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself reach your financial goals. It doesn’t matter how you track your budget as long as you have one in place that works for you. Your budgeting method might change over time as you find out about new tools and give them a try and that’s okay too.


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Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at or follow her on Twitter @shoeaholicnomor.

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