What is the 50/30/20 rule?

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple budgeting method that can help you to reach your financial goals. It divides your after-tax income into three categories:

  • 50% for needs
  • 30% for wants
  • 20% for savings and debt repayment

Needs are expenses that you must pay in order to live, such as housing, food, transportation, and utilities.

Wants are expenses that are not essential, but that you enjoy, such as entertainment, dining out, and shopping.

Savings and debt repayment is money that you set aside for future expenses, such as a down payment on a house, retirement, or unexpected costs.


Here are some examples of expenses that would fall into each category:


  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water)
  • Groceries
  • Transportation (car payment, gas, insurance)
  • Health insurance
  • Minimum debt payments


  • Entertainment (movies, concerts, restaurants)
  • Dining out
  • Shopping
  • Travel
  • Vacations
  • Subscriptions (streaming services, gym memberships)

Savings and debt repayment:

  • Emergency fund
  • Down payment on a house
  • Retirement savings
  • Extra debt payments

How to use the 50/30/20 rule

To use the 50/30/20 rule, start by calculating your after-tax income. This is the amount of money that you have left after taxes and other deductions have been taken out of your paycheck.

Once you know your after-tax income, multiply each category by the corresponding percentage:

  • Needs: 50%
  • Wants: 30%
  • Savings and debt repayment: 20%

This will give you the amount of money that you should spend in each category each month.

Tips for sticking to the 50/30/20 rule

Here are some tips for sticking to the 50/30/20 rule:

  • Track your spending. This will help you to see where your money is going each month. You can track your spending by using a budgeting app, a spreadsheet, or simply keeping a notebook.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself, or you are more likely to get discouraged and give up.
  • Be flexible. Things happen, and you may need to adjust your budget from time to time. That’s okay. Just make sure that you are still making progress towards your financial goals.
  • Automate your savings. One of the best ways to save money is to automate your savings. This means setting up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings account each month. This way, you will save money without even having to think about it.


The 50/30/20 rule is a simple budgeting method that can help you to reach your financial goals. It is easy to follow and can be customized to fit your individual needs. If you are looking for a budgeting method that is effective and easy to stick to, the 50/30/20 rule is a great option to consider.

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