The Best Budgeting Method for Your Personality Type

by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 18, 2021

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A household budget written on notebook paper aside pen and calculator.

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If budgets haven't worked out for you in the past, you may have been using the wrong type.

Have you ever tried out a new budget, only to learn that it doesn't work for you? You're not alone. The reason why it didn't work out may be because the budgeting method didn't fit your personality type.

According to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, there are four overreaching personality types:

  • Artisan
  • Guardian
  • Idealist
  • Rational

Each personality type comes with a range of characteristics. To help you find the right budgeting method to suit your style, take a look at the following descriptions and the best budget for each.

Artisan

  • Excited
  • Optimistic
  • Playful
  • Impulsive
  • Daring
  • Persuasive

In a nutshell: Artisans love working with their hands. Whether they're creating art, playing an instrument, or restoring an old car, they're all about getting in there and making things happen. They're also the folks who tend to take risks and break the rules, which makes them irresistibly charming. If that sounds like you, we recommend the 50/30/20 budget, which provides an adequate amount of flexibility when it comes to managing your finances.

50/30/20 budget

This non-restrictive budget offers wiggle room and is easy to implement. It breaks your monthly spending into three categories:

  • 50% of your take-home income goes to needs like rent, transportation, utilities, and groceries.
  • The next 30% goes to things you want like clothing, dining out, and subscription services like Hulu or Netflix.
  • 20% goes to "goals," like paying off debt, saving, and investing.

Guardian

  • Dependable
  • Truthful
  • Steady
  • Logistical
  • Respectable
  • Detailed

In a nutshell: Guardians can have fun but typically after they've finished their jobs. They are very much the "measure twice, cut once" type of people, and they take pride in their ability to accomplish tasks. They tend to respect authority and are proud of the fact that people depend on them.

For people with a Guardian personality, we recommend a zero-based budget. This type of budget allows you to account for every dollar you bring home each month and helps you see where your money is going. Here's how it works:

  • List all sources of monthly income.
  • List all monthly expenses, including how much you're putting into savings.
  • Compare monthly income to monthly expenses. The goal is for you to end up with an exact total of zero each month. If you still have money left over, decide if you're going to use it to build a larger emergency savings account, invest with a broker, donate to charity, or pay down debt.
  • If your monthly expenses are greater than your income, look for costs that can be trimmed or add to your income by taking on a part-time gig, renting a room in your home, or selling things you no longer need.

If you're a guardian type and like to do things "just right," you may appreciate the fact that you must revisit your budget at least once a month to make sure it's still working for you. This is especially true if your income varies month by month.

Idealist

  • Imaginative
  • Intuitive
  • Kind hearted
  • Authentic
  • Empathetic
  • Diplomatic

In a nutshell: Idealists are frequently the heart of an organization. In addition to developing caring relationships, idealists have a unique talent for helping people get along. Idealists focus on what "might" be rather than what is and believe the world is full of possibilities. They are far less into material possessions than spiritual possibilities.

As an idealist, you may appreciate the clarity involved in envelope budgeting. As the name implies, it's all about taking enough cash out of the bank to cover the month's expenses and dividing it up for each budget category.

Quick note: You may want to set up large expenditures, like your rent, mortgage, car payment, utility payments, and savings on autopay so you can "set it and forget it." Make a separate envelope for everything else. Your envelopes may include things like:

  • Groceries
  • Donations
  • School lunches
  • Clothing
  • Dining out
  • Debt payoff

Place a budgeted amount of money in each envelope and draw from that specific envelope to cover an expense. For example, when it's time to buy groceries, take money from that envelope.

The goal is to never borrow from one budget category to pay another. Let's say it's near the end of the month and the "dining out" envelope is empty. That means you'll need to wait until the next month to refill that envelope and have the money available to go out to eat.

Rational

  • Logical
  • Pragmatic
  • Calm
  • Strategic
  • Independent
  • Innovative

In a nutshell: Rational personality types love problem solving, whether it's mechanical or social. They tend to be interested in abstract concepts and not concerned about being politically correct. Rational people dislike wasting time and resources.

Since you're not a big fan of wasting time or resources, we recommend the 80/20 budget. For this method, you immediately take 20% off the top of your monthly income and use it to pay down debt, save, or invest. You then divide up the other 80% to be spent any way you wish.

Budgeting is like using GPS to get from one side of the country to the other. Can you get there without a map? Sure, but it's likely to be far more frustrating. Hopefully, one of these budgeting methods will help you achieve your goals and get to where you want in life.

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