THE 50/20/30 APPROACH
The Lazy Budgeter’s Guide to Financial Security
So, there are as many ways to do your monthly budget as there are hair colors—and I’ve tried them all. The budgets, I mean. I was born with the blue hair.
One method I like a lot, called the 50/20/30 plan, was first proposed by Harvard economist Elizabeth Warren and her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. Yep, you heard that right. This budget is Harvard-approved, which means it has to be good! It’s also incredibly accessible and great for beginner budgeters.
First, look at your take-home pay. What are you bringing home every month after you pay taxes, health insurance, 401K, etcetera?
CREATE YOUR BUDGET IN THESE 3 STEPS:
Calculate your fixed costs.
What do you spend on housing, car payments, utilities and subscriptions? If it’s more than half of your take-home pay, start trimming.
Put at least 20% of your take-home pay toward payments and investments that secure your long-term financial foundation.
Three goals to start on: paying down credit card debt, funding your retirement, and creating an emergency fund.
Calculate your flexible costs.
What’s left over is for groceries, eating out, entertainment, shopping, hobbies, gas, and other day-to-day expenses. Don’t think it’s enough? Go back to those fixed costs and trim again.
PSST… Want to make budgeting even simpler? Try the 80/20 budget instead.
Make sure your fixed costs, flexible costs, and discretionary spending are less than 80% of your take-home pay and apply at least 20% to savings and debt reduction. Be a ninja and take that 20% off the top, before you spend on your household—financial security in progress, zero expense tracking.