The well-known 50/20/30 Savings Rule is a great method of saving and budgeting without too much restriction or obsession over money.
It is also utterly useless to me.
The budget’s basic breakdown is this:
50%- Needs (including rent, utilities, gas, food, transportation)
20%- Savings/ Debt Payments (mortgages, student loans)
30%- Wants (shopping, dining out, traveling, happy hour)
I like the nature of this budget because it allows you to still be flexible with your money and ensure that you’re saving. Yet still, you don’t need to keep track of every single thing you buy. However, I live in Manhattan, so my rent alone is 50% of my income.
Many 20 somethings also have student loans, so money should be specifically allocated toward paying those back. The current model of this budget seems to have you choose between the two. So, I reworked this budget for those whose rent is their 50% and/or for those who have student loans but want to save.
Here is my breakdown:
50%- Rent (WHEW- ideally you at least have an elevator in your building and don’t have a pet mouse in your apartment but if so, hopefully the mouse is cute)
15% Student Loans
10% Needs- Utilities and Basic Groceries
15% Fun (Pick two)= Eating out, Shopping, Outings (Happy Hour, Movies, Concerts)
To illustrate, let’s pretend that you make about $50,000/year, and therefore (after New York taxes), you earn about $3,000/month. Your budget would break down like so:
Student Loans= $450
I like to pick two “fun” categories to focus on each month because I find it makes my money last longer and larger. You can read more about why I think this is a foolproof method here.
Put it into action
To help organize this budget in a more tangible way, I use a monthly worksheet at the beginning of each month. You can snag your copy of that (and more) in my free City Survival Guide at the bottom of this post.
It organizes exactly how much of my income should be put to each category each month. Plus, it allows me to have fun with my fun budget (is that a thing?). I switch up what exactly I’m going to treat myself with each month. Then, at the end of each month, I can look back and reflect on what goals I reached and what areas I have to work on. I hope it’s useful to you, too! What are your favorite tips for budgeting in cities and in your 20s?