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We Tested 5 of the Best Budgeting Methods. Here’s What We Found

Trying to get your spending under control? Just like with dieting, it can help to add some structure by following a plan, especially if your budget is likely to be bigger because of inflation, as The Wall Street Journal newsroom has advised. There are just about as many approaches to handling your daily finances as there are to counting calories. 

To sort out which type of budget might work best for you, and if you need a budget at all, can take some experimentation. But that can be a time-consuming process, so we put the most popular budgeting methods through our testing process over several weeks to see which ones work best for a regular person. 

I used my own budget as the model. I’m a married 30-something with no children who lives in New York City. My main objective with my money is to make sure I’m taking care of my expenses while also saving for a down payment on a house. 

For help, I turned to certified financial planners. One thing they stressed: There’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting solution. “Everybody’s different,” says Greg Giardino, a Tarrytown, N.Y.-based certified financial planner. “The most important thing is that you pick a strategy that really resonates with you.” The more comfortable you are with that strategy, you’re more likely to implement it and stick with it. 

Here are five of the most popular budgeting techniques touted by professionals—and how they fared in our testing.

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