Best Family Budget For Every Personality Type

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Getting on a family budget can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! As a self-proclaimed #budgetnerd, I realize that not everyone likes to stay up late at night tweaking, adjusting, and playing with multiple spreadsheets.


I’m weird, and I know it.


But putting together a simple family budget is one of the most IMPORTANT moves you can make with your money. You can take control of your money and plan a financial future worth dreaming about!

And since EVERYONE has a unique style, I’ve decided to walk through four VERY DIFFERENT budget methods for you to choose from.

Your family is counting on you, so it’s time to get your money right!


The Zero-Sum Budget

Made popular by Financial Guru Dave Ramsey, the zero-sum budget is a popular choice. The simple concept behind this budget is to “give every dollar a job.”


How It Works

The goal of the zero-sum budget is for your income minus expenses to equal ZERO. This means that once your bills and expenses are budgeted for, any leftover dollars start going toward your debt payoff or savings goals.

Figure out your monthly take-home pay total, then use that amount to budget for:

  • Bills
  • Everyday Expenses
  • Debt Payoff
  • Savings

As you start budgeting your income, make sure you are budgeting what you would TYPICALLY spend in a month. Look at past bills and expenses and budget for that amount.

Once you have allocated the money for your expenses, assign any extra money in the budget toward debt payoff and savings goals.

This might include paying off credit card debt or saving for a down payment on a house. And don’t forget to continue investing for retirement as well!



  • This budget helps you get a REAL pulse on your exact spending
  • There are no “extra dollars” that can be wasted; every dollar has a job
  • You can clearly see what it will take to reach your debt payoff and savings goals


  • This budget can feel tedious and be time-consuming
  • Hard for those with irregular income
  • Not for those who give up easily….it takes time to get this budget right


Who It Works Best For

The zero-sum budget is great for those who don’t naturally save money and are truly in the dark about where their money is going. It’s a great way to expose your spending habits and then tighten your grip on the money that seems to escape your grasp each month.

If you feel your money is unmanageable and you want to take back control, the zero-sum budget may be right for you!


Related: How To Set Up A Starter Emergency Fund


The 50/30/20 Budget

Created by Senator Elizabeth Warren (and her daughter), this method tries to simplify everything in your family budget down to 3 Buckets; Needs, Wants, and Savings/Debt.


How It Works

The 50/30/20 budget is a way to budget based on percentages. Using your monthly take-home pay amount, you split it up like this:

  • 50% goes toward NEEDS (Housing, Bills, Food, Clothing, Transportation)
  • 30% goes toward WANTS (Restaurants, Entertainment, Shopping)
  • 20% goes toward SAVINGS/DEBT (Debt payoff, Savings, Investing)


And that’s it! Simply split up your family budget three ways, and then adjust until you match the 50/30/20 percentages!



  • Prioritizes savings (20% is a great savings goal)
  • Super simple to follow (only three categories!)
  • It builds in FUN money (30% toward WANTS)


  • It doesn’t allow you to see where you are wasting money (too simple)
  • For those in debt, allocating 30% to WANTS is excessive
  • For many parts of the country, 50% is NOT enough for the NEEDS category


Who It Works Best For

This budget is great for families who just want a simple guideline to get started. It’s best for those with consistent incomes who want to prioritize savings and debt payoff but don’t know where to start.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by spreadsheets, then this may be the budget for you!


The Envelope Budgeting Method

Again, popularized by Dave Ramsey, the Envelope Budget is a simple way to visually see where ALL your money is going.


How It Works

To create an Envelope Budget, you start with your current paycheck and split it up between bills and everyday expenses. Once the bills are paid, you need to take out the everyday expenses in CASH and put the money in labeled envelopes. Your envelopes might be:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Household
  • Clothing
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • Spending Money

The idea behind Envelope budgeting is to give yourself a physical way to stop overspending. Once the money in the envelope is gone, you STOP spending in that category.

For example; If you run out of Grocery money before the next paycheck, you make pantry meals until the next paycheck. If you need to buy more food, you simply BORROW that money from another envelope.



  • Prevents overspending by NOT allowing you to spend outside of the envelope
  • You physically see the money disappear, which helps make it REAL to you
  • You will STOP going further into debt


  • Requires you to carry around large amounts of cash
  • It’s hard to split up transactions, sometimes requiring you to use multiple envelopes at a single store
  • If you buy something online, you have to re-deposit money from the envelope


Who It Works Best For

The cash envelope system is a fantastic budget for those who struggle with overspending or who have VERY LITTLE room in their family budget. If you are already living paycheck to paycheck, putting tight restrictions on your spending can help prevent going into further debt just to get by.

If you want to stop bad money habits in its tracks, the envelope budget might be for you!


The Anti-Budget (or 80/20 Budget)

This budget is the simplest of them all. Popularized by personal finance writer Paula Pant (Afford Anything), the idea is to only worry about how much you save and ignore the rest.


How It Works

The Anti-Budget cuts through all the details and gets down to the most important part of budgeting, namely, how much you save each month. The idea is to set a savings goal for the month, put that amount away, and then live on the rest. The suggested goal is to save AT LEAST 20% of your income.

For example; If you make $4,000 per month, and want to save 20% of your income, simply save (or invest, or pay off debt) $800 per month and spend the rest.

This ensures you ALWAYS save toward your goals and stop stressing about the day-to-day.



  • This cuts out the stress from daily budgeting and tracking
  • Prioritizes SAVING FIRST, instead of saving what is “leftover” at the end of the month
  • It’s so simple….a caveman…..I mean… get the point. It’s easy!


  • Doesn’t help you narrow down WASTEFUL spending habits and cut them out
  • May be too simplistic for those who really want to know what is going on with their money
  • If you are living paycheck to paycheck or are in debt, simply saying “I’ll save 20% from now on” doesn’t necessarily make it happen


Who It Works Best For

The Anti-Budget is for people who are not overspending, and just want a way to hit their money goals. It’s for families who don’t want to argue about the day-to-day purchases (“Why did you spend $45 at Target….AGAIN?!”). The Anti-Budget is great if you don’t really care about where the money goes, as long as you are saving!

If you HATE the idea of budgeting but want to make sure you’re saving enough, give the Anti-Budget a shot!

Click here to read our Anti-Budget Review 


Which Budget Is For You?

Now that you’ve seen the most popular budgets out there, which one calls to you?


No really!


Most of us tend to lean toward a detailed numbers approach…or simply want a “set-it and forget-it” type of budgeting system.If you’re a numbers person, the Zero-Sum budget or the Envelope Budget might be right up your alley.But if you want simple, the 50/30/20 or the Anti-Budget might be the best approach.


I recommend setting up a Budget Meeting with your significant other and talking about these methods. Have both of you read through the details, and then talk about which one feels the best for your family.


Then pick one and COMMIT TO IT for at least three months.


Getting Started Is Half The Battle

Here’s the deal: the key isn’t to find the perfect budget. The key is to start making a plan for your money instead of letting it disappear without a trace!


Pick a method, try it for a few months, and start making progress on those BIG goals of yours!


About the Author: Jacob Wade is the budgeting expert who started Roadmap Money, a place where Millennials and young families come to learn EXACTLY how to build a budget that WORKS. Jacob quit his job in 2018, sold his house and 95% of everything they owned to take off on an adventure of a lifetime. He is now on a mission to spread the message of Financial Freedom around the country, and help others build a “Freedom Plan” of their own! You can follow along in their family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.


What’s your favorite way to budget family expenses? Let us know in the comments below


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Best Family Budget For Every Personality Type

3 thoughts on “Best Family Budget For Every Personality Type”

  1. I’m not a huge fan of Dave Ramsey (though his radio show is fun at times), but I got to admit his zero-sum budget is pretty decent. Not only does it help reinforcing good spending habits, it introduces a new way of thinking about money that might elude most people.

    1. Flora,
      I’m totally on board with the zero-sum budget. I like knowing that I have control of EVERY cents that passes through my hands. And the idea that you need to build in savings, investing and extra debt payoff into the budget is definitely eye-opening. Most people just wait until the month has ended and then save or pay down debt, but this makes it a required part of the plan!

  2. Hello, Amazing blog. Managing Family budget is very basic and important thing for all of us. I appreciate your ideas. I like it and i will share this amazing blog with my WhatsApp groups. Thanks for sharing!

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