Plan ahead using 50:30:20 budgeting

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple way of managing your money.

Have you ever wondered where exactly your money has gone? Or, how to start saving towards that goal or the inevitable rainy day?

Financial wellbeing is a term that describes your ability to confidently manage your money and plan for the future, regardless of how much money you may have.

The first step to improving your financial wellbeing is to know exactly what is coming in and going out of your accounts by creating a budget.

Start by reviewing payslips, account and credit card statements, and receipts in order to make your money and spending habits more visible. You can use a simple budgeting sheet to help you. Take a look back over three months to get a very accurate snapshot of your spending habits.

Now that you can see things a bit more clearly it’s time to look at the 50/30/20 rule.

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple way of managing your money, after tax, by setting aside:

50% of your take home income for needs

30% of your take home income for wants

20% of your take home income for savings.

Needs: 50%

Needs are the essentials. Rent/Mortgage repayments, utility bills, groceries, transport costs, medicines and health insurance. It also includes minimum debt repayments, such as for credit cards and other loans. Needs are simply the basics of life.

Wants: 30%

Wants are the things you spend money on that are not essential. This includes nights out, takeaways, coffees, entertainment, hobbies, designer clothing and bigger items like holidays, or the latest technology. It's perhaps no surprise that this is the category that most of us tend to overspend in.

Savings: 20%

Saving money is something we need to prioritise. Savings can include repaying debts beyond just minimum repayments, a rainy day fund for emergencies and saving for your retirement. Saving can also be for a specific goal like a wedding, a new home, new car or the holiday of a lifetime. While the idea of saving 20% of our take home income may sound high, remember its best to pay yourself first. Save at the start of the month and not at the end.

Applying the 50/30/20 rule

If your after tax income is €/£2,400 a month, according to the 50/30/20 rule, you should try to limit your needs to €/£1,200, you can spend €/£720 on your wants and you have €/£480 left over for saving or repaying debts.

Getting your spending in line with the 50/30/20 rule

If your needs exceed 50%, you might have to pull back on wants for a bit and use some of that money for your needs until you can get your needs down to a more manageable level.

If spending on your wants is way north of 30% then you need to take a look at where your money is going. Do you know what your spending triggers are? Boredom, peer pressure, are you eager to try the newest recommendation from a friend or influencer? Identifying those triggers can really help you manage them.

If your savings are much lower than 20% because of debt repayments then you might want to look at strategies for reducing your debts. A rainy day fund should be sufficient to cover three to six months’ essential expenses. That might seem like a lot if you have no savings, but the key is to start and build it up gradually. By automating your savings and setting up a direct debit or standing order to transfer money to a separate account as soon as you get paid you may find achieving those savings goals happens sooner than you think.

If your household has suffered a loss of income, the 50:30:20 rule may need to be adjusted for a period of time.

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The information contained in this article has been prepared by Bank of Ireland (“BOI”) for information purposes only and is not meant as advice. BOI believes any information contained in the article to be accurate and correct at the time of publishing.