How to save money with the 50-30-20 rule

Written by Caitlin Costello in Finance on September 26, 2017

How to save money with the 50-30-20 rule

Creating a budget is about more than just paying your bills and putting money aside for a rainy day. The most important thing to remember when considering how to save money is knowing how much of your money to portion up for each part of your life and creating some form of a savings plan.

The 50-30-20 rule creates a proportional guideline for you to keep your spending and saving in check, and help fast track your financial goals. It is simple, clear and one of the most easy ways to save money. With a clear outline of where you should be putting your money, you have the confidence to spend and save, and have realistic weighting so that you can achieve its benchmarks every month. You can use it to help save for that ever-elusive home deposit too!

So then, how to save money with the 50-30-20 rule?

Calculate your after tax income

A key concern when considering how to save money is calculating your after tax income. This is the total amount you take home each month after taxes are accounted for. If you work a regular 9-5 job, this amount will be easy to determine from your payslip, but if you are self-employed, you will need to calculate this amount. Generally, it will be made up of your gross income, less your business expenses and the amount you reserve for taxes.

Once you’ve determined your income, then it’s time to start splitting it up.

Money bag icon on blackboard with hand - saving with the 50-30-20 rule

Limit your needs to 50 percent

Needs comprise the daily essentials you require to get by. This includes groceries, insurance, utilities and bills. Review your budget, and allocate 50 percent of it to needs.

Sounds simple, right? But what’s the distinction between need and want? A need is something that you cannot go without. Like you can’t miss a credit card repayment without copping a late payment fee, you can’t go without your gas or electricity, and you need food to survive.

Fruit and vegetables set out on a table


For wants, it’s 30 percent

This is another step that seems simple in theory. 30 percent of your paycheck that can go on pure wants – great! But remember the definition of need. If only the daily essentials are classified as needs, this means that a whole host of things fall into the want category.

Wants include things like Netflix or Spotify subscriptions, new clothes (other than bare essentials), meals out, holidays, haircuts and more. There are things that fall into wants that will blur from needs. For example everyday groceries like milk and eggs are a need, while lollies and chocolates fall into the want category.

A woman rides the escalator while shopping


The final 20 percent goes to financial goals

With your needs and wants aside, the final portion of your after tax salary should go to debt repayments and savings. For credit cards, loans or mortgages, the minimum repayment (the payment required without penalty) classify as needs, and anything you can afford above that should come from the 20 percent for financial goals. Make a conscious effort to put as much as you can towards these savings – you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Remember the portions for needs and wants are maximum spends, so if you fall under you can put more towards your financial goals. The more money that goes towards savings can equate to more fun down the path – holidays, renovations, new cars and more!

READ MORE: 10 tips for saving for a deposit