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50/30/20 Budget Method: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

Jun 28, 2019 | Budgeting, Master Your Money | 0 comments

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Here’s a crazy stat:

Two-thirds of Americans don’t have a budget.

That means that 218 million people are spending their money will-nilly with no game plan.

Two hundred and eighteen million people who are not financially successful.

Because, let’s face it:

Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Without a budget, you are highly unlikely to be able to afford your lifestyle, pay down debt, or save money.

Are you one of these people?

It’s ok if you are.  I was too.

It gets better, though:

Creating a budget (or a plan) for your money is hella easy.

What isn’t always easy is sticking to your budget.

However, when you use a budgeting method, such as the 50/30/20 budget method, you can significantly increase your chances of sticking to a budget.

And, when you stick to a budget, you’ll be able to:

  • afford your lifestyle
  • pay down debt (and stay out of debt)
  • save more money
  • free up money for personal use

and more.

That sounds pretty sweet, right?

I know.  It totally does.

So, let’s get started.

50/30/20 budget printable set

Sign up for our free resource library to access your 50/30/20 Budget printable set!

50/30/20 Budget Printable Set

Sign up for our free resource library to access your 50/30/20 Budgeting printable set!

Why You Definitely Need A Budget 

Learning how to budget is super crucial if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck and reach your financial goals.

But, budgeting can be the worst, so people tend to avoid it.  (Two-thirds of Americans to be exact!)

Here’s the deal, though:

Not budgeting is a huge, huge mistake.

Because, if there is one thing that you should keep organized in your life, it is your money.

So, why do so many people avoid budgeting their hard-earned cash?

Two reasons:

  • budgeting is can be time-consuming
  • budgeting is can be stressful

See, money is often the cause of stress, tension, and arguments between partners.  And, money controls most aspects of our lives, leaving us feeling like we often do not have enough.

So, why even bother with it all, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

You 100% need a budget, regardless of how ‘little’ or ‘big’ your income is.

Because, here’s the deal:

Without a proper budget (and understanding of your finances), you will never, and I mean never, feel satisfied with your income and standard of living.

A budget is necessary if you want to:

  • afford your lifestyle
  • stop fighting about money
  • pay off debt (and stay out of debt)
  • save money

So, let’s dive in and see if a 50/30/20 budget is right for you!

How To Set Up A 50/30/20 Budget

To set up a 50/30/20 budget follow these steps:

  1. Determine Your Why Factor
  2. Collect Your Financial Information
  3. Calculate Your Income & Expenses
  4. Cut Costs (if necessary)
  5. Set Up Your 50/30/20 Budget
  6. Track Your Budget

And don’t miss this:

Your free 50/30/20 budget starter bundle!

Who Is A 50/30/20 Budget Good For?

I’m gonna be honest:

A 50/30/20 budget is not for everybody.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this budget is not for most people.

Why’s that?

With a 50/30/20 budget, you will be spending 50% of your budget on needs, 30% of your budget on wants, and 20% of your budget on savings/debt repayment.

The first time I heard about a 50/30/20 budget, I thought:

“Wouldn’t that be nice!”

My point being that, a 50/30/20 budget is really restrictive and doesn’t work well for people who have a tight income to expense ratio.

A 50/30/20 budget IS good for you, though, if you have a lot of freedom in your budget and are looking for a more structured approach to your finances.

Step 1:  Determine Your Why Factor

We’ve already established this:

Every single person needs a budget if they want to be financially successful.

But why.

This will be different for everybody, and you can determine your why factor by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What will budgeting help me do?
  2. How will budgeting make my life simpler?

For example:

You might want to start budgeting to stop living paycheck to paycheck, to pay off debt, or to save more money.

Knowing your why is essential because it creates meaning for your purpose.  Without it, you’d have no motivation to continue budgeting.

Because let’s be honest:

If you do not have a plan for your money, how are you going to afford your dream life?

Here’s a hint:

You won’t be able to.

So, once you establish the reason you want to start budgeting, I urge you to write it down!


Because writing it down makes it real and it reminds you of why you started in the first place (if/when budgeting gets tough).

Step 2:  Collect Your Financial Information

Want to know the best part about this step:

It’s hella simple and shouldn’t take you much time at all.

You’re simply going to gather up your financial information. (i.e., pay stubs and bills)

You’ll need:

  • a months worth of pay stubs (and your partners, if applicable)
  • all the bills you currently pay, their individual costs, and when they’re due
  • bank account information

And that’s all folks!

Step 3:  Calculate Your Income + Expenses

The start of every budget begins by calculating your income and expenses.

It is a crucial step to creating a budget that works because:

If you’ve never budgeted before, you probably don’t have a firm understanding of your finances.

Therefore, you’re probably spending more than you can afford (or not spending your money efficiently).

So, to determine if you need to cut back on expenses before you start budgeting (for better budgeting success) calculate your income and expenses now.

Your Income:

Using the information you gathered during step two, calculate your total monthly income (after taxes) from all sources.

Once you know exactly how much money you earn each month, you can determine if you are living within or beyond your means.

For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend your total monthly income is $4,500.

(Monthly Income Organizer & Financial Evaluation available in the Budget Boss Planner)

Your Expenses:

Next, you’ll want to calculate your total monthly expenses.

For the purposes of the 50/30/20 budget, break your expenses down into two categories:

1. Needs

2. Wants

If you aren’t sure what your monthly expenses are, begin tracking your spending in a financial planner to calculate an average at the end of the month.

For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend our needs total $2,250 and our wants total $1,350.

Step 4:  Cut Costs (if necessary)

Once you’ve calculated your monthly income and expenses, you can quickly decipher if you’re living within or above your means.

To do this, simply subtract your total expenses from your total income.

If the number is a positive number:

You’re in the green and should be able to afford your lifestyle with ease each month and can easily move onto setting up your zero based budget.

If the number you calculated is a negative number:

You’re in the red and cannot afford your current lifestyle, meaning you will have to decrease your expenses if you want to successfully start budgeting.

If you’re in the red and need to cut costs, use these tips and resources:

  • A Budgeting Planner – Use budgeting printables, like the ones found in the Budget Boss Planner, to begin tracking your finances and your spending.  Then, begin decreasing your expenses by stopping poor spending habits and canceling unused subscriptions.  Get your budgeting planner here.

Pssst!  Wanna save 70% on the Budget Boss Planner?  Sign up here to save!

  • BillBargain – A fantastic resource that will help you lower your monthly expenses.  BillBargain has successfully negotiated over 85% of the bills they receive for cell phone bills, Wi-Fi, cable, and more.  The best part?  BillBargain is 100% risk-free.  If they don’t successfully negotiate a lower price for your bills, you don’t owe them a dime. Get started for free here!
  • Trim – Referred to as a financial health service, Trim securely connects to your bank account(s) to analyze spending, subscriptions, and recurring bill pay.  Then, Trim will help you cancel unused subscriptions, negotiate lower bill prices, and more.  In the last month alone, they’ve helped their users save over 1 million dollars.  Sign-up for free here!
  • The Ultimate Guide To Frugal Living – Learn over one hundred ways to save money every day (thousands/year!). Get your free frugal living checklist by signing up for our resource library.

Step 5:  Create Your 50/30/20 Budget

To get started:

Next, follow these steps:

1.  Add up your monthly income (after taxes)

2.  Multiply your total monthly income by 0.5.  This is how much money you should be spending on your needs.  (Refer to the list your made earlier.  If you’ve exceeded 50%, you need to cut costs to make this budget work.)

3.  Multiply your total monthly income by 0.3.  This is how much money you can spend on your wants.  (Refer to your list.  Does this number match up?)

4.  Multiply your total monthly income by 0.2.  This is how much money you have to put towards debt repayment and/or savings.

As you can see, the 50/30/20 budget is great for becoming more intentional with how you spend your money.

If your percentages aren’t evening out correctly, try decreasing your expenses, making more money, or trying a different budgeting method.

To get started with your 50/30/20 budget, download your free printable bundle here.

Step 6:  Tracking Your Budget

Most people forget this crucial part of budgeting and end up wondering why their budget failed a month after implementing it.

If you have a budget, then you need to track it.

Because, here’s the deal:

If you do not track your budget, you cannot make sure that you are sticking to your budget.  And, if you aren’t making sure that you’re sticking to your budget, your budget will fail.

You might be wondering:

How do you track your budget?

These are my recommendations:

1.  The Budget Boss Planner ($27 value)

A printable and digital budgeting planner designed to help you create & stick to a budget, pay off debt, save money, and more.  The Budget Boss Planner is un-dated so you only have to purchase once to use this planner forever.

To take a peek inside the Budget Boss Planner, click here.

HINT: When you sign up here to become a VIP and download your 50/30/20 budget printables, you can score the Budget Boss Planner for just $9 (instead of $27!) — You’ll be automatically redirected to a discounted purchase page.

2.  Honey Money ($50 value)

An online resource to track your budget.  Honey Money is the internet’s version of a printable financial planner.  Within your dashboard, you can create your budget, track your budget, create debt repayment and savings goals, and more.  If you aren’t a pen and paper kinda person, I highly recommend this budget tracking resource.  

Get started with Honey Money for free here.

Again, when you track your budget, you ensure that the system you put into place is working correctly.

Don’t let the time you spent creating a budget go to waste by avoiding this simple step!

Wrapping Up

A 50/30/20 budget is the perfect way to spend your money mindfully.

You’ll be able to:

  • afford your bills and necessities with ease
  • have extra money for your wants (who doesn’t love that!?)
  • easily pay off debt and/or save money

So, take action:

Gather your financial information, implement your 50/30/20 budget, and track your budget for success.

Don’t forget your free 50/30/20 buget printables bundle!

And, cheers to stressing less about money!

What budget system do you currently use?  Are you going to start a zero based budget?  Comment below!

Happy Budgeting!



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