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50/30/20 Budget Method: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started
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:
Without a budget, you are highly unlikely to be able to afford your lifestyle, pay down debt, or save money.
It’s cool, though:
Creating a budget for your money is hella easy.
And, when you stick to a budget, such as the 50/30/20 budgeting method, 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
Pretty sweet, right?
So, let’s get started.
- How To Start Budgeting (When You Don’t Know Where To Start)
- The 5 Best Budgeting Methods To Get Your Financial Sh!t Together
- How To Automate Your Budget So You Never Have To Budget Again
- Budget-By-Paycheck: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started
- How To Use A Zero-Based Budget
- The Cash Envelope System: How To Stop Poor Spending Habits
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.
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.
How To Set Up A 50/30/20 Budget
To set up a 50/30/20 budget follow these steps:
- Determine Your Why Factor
- Collect Your Financial Information
- Calculate Your Income & Expenses
- Cut Costs (if necessary)
- Set Up Your 50/30/20 Budget
- Track Your Budget
Step 1: Determine Your Why Factor
We’ve already established this:
Every single person needs a budget if they want to be financially successful.
This will be different for everybody, and you can determine your why factor by asking yourself these questions:
- What will budgeting help me do?
- How will budgeting make my life simpler?
You might want to start budgeting to stop living paycheck to paycheck, to pay off debt, or to save more money.
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 to remind yourself 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)
- 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!
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.
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 Binder)
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:
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 50/30/20 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:
1. A Budget Binder – Use budgeting printables, like the ones found in the Budget Boss Binder, to begin tracking your finances and your spending. Then, begin decreasing your expenses by stopping poor spending habits and canceling unused subscriptions. Get your 2019 budget binder here.
2. 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!
3. 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!
4. 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:
- Download your 50/30/20 budget printables
- Have handy your total monthly income
- Grab your list of wants and needs (expenses)
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 you 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.
To get started with your 50/30/20 budget, download your printables 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 Binder – $9 ($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 Binder is un-dated so you only have to purchase once to use this planner forever.
SAVE $18 RIGHT NOW
When you act fast, you can download our best-selling Budget Boss Binder for only $9! But, quick! This deal ends tonight at midnight!
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.
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!
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
- track your budget for success.
And, don’t forget your 50/30/20 budget printables by signing up for our free resource library below!
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2020 Budget Boss Binder (40+ Pages)
50/30/20 Monthly Budget Template (2 Pages)
Zero Based Budget Monthly Template (2 Pages)
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