Two Simple Budgeting Strategies to Save Money and Time
Budgeting (verb): a hopeless process that will catch you in a shame spiral of receipts and regret.
Raise your hand if this definition of budgeting feels spot on🙋It doesn’t have to be this way though!
A budget is one of the most important foundations for financial wellness 💪, but for many, the term elicits images of obsessively analyzing purchases and excessively restricted spending 🤯. These habits, although valuable in some instances, can be so tedious and time-consuming that they put people off from budgeting altogether.
Here we’ll discuss two simple budgeting plans that won’t cost you your sanity 😅. We'll follow along our friend Jordan's budgeting journey to help flesh out these two beginner-friendly plans. Jordan makes $2,000 a month post-tax and has the typical expenses of a young professional (rent, food, transportation, etc.), but also wants to enjoy their money. First up, let's see how anti-budgeting could work for them.
What is it?
Anti-budgeting only requires that you set aside the amount of your post-tax income that you want to save first, and not worry so much about the rest. So if Jordan makes $2,000 a month post-tax and wants to contribute $400 to savings (e.g. retirement, travel fund, etc.), the remaining $1,600 can be spent without meticulous tracking.
A best practice for anti-budgeting would be having this portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account. If you need help determining your post-tax income, you can check out this article.
How could anti-budgeting help me?
One of the biggest advantages of anti-budgeting is that it doesn’t involve tracking purchases. Studying receipts and credit card bills can be helpful, but it can get old and become an unsustainable habit. Additionally, these behaviors might lead you to micromanage your finances and prevent you from enjoying the money you’ve earned. Anti-budgeting can help you:
Develop confidence with your finances since you know exactly how much money you’re saving each month 📊.
Alleviate guilt (😖) about non-essential spending as long as you are still meeting your savings goals. So if it's within Jordan's budget to go on a weekend trip with friends, they can do so without worrying if that money should've been put into savings instead.
How much should I be saving?
Savings can capture a lot of things like creating an emergency fund, paying off loans, contributing to retirement savings, etc. So, consider how these items might factor into the amount you’d like to save each month. You can learn more about how to develop your savings habits here. Most conventional wisdom recommends starting at 20% of your post-tax income, but the exact number will be dependent on fixed costs such as rent and transportation.
The 50/30/20 Rule ⚖️
What is it?
This alternative budgeting approach is a bit more prescriptive than anti-budgeting. The 50/30/20 rule requires placing 50% of post-tax income towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings. Needs include things like rent, food, and transportation - you can’t get by without them. Wants are things that are nice to have but you can live without, like dinners out or movie tickets. You can learn more about the distinction between needs and wants here.
So if Jordan decided to use the 50/30/20 rule instead of anti-budgeting, $1,000 would go towards needs, $600 to wants, and $400 to savings.
How could the 50/30/20 rule help me?
This budgeting method allows you to be pretty aware of your spending habits, but not too much 😎. This approach might be better for someone who isn’t comfortable with the more hands-off approach of anti-budgeting. Some features that can make the 50/30/20 rule useful to you are:
You can check in every week or so to make sure you aren’t going over in any of the three categories, but avoid sweating the small stuff like whether or not you should pick up a coffee before work ☕.
It includes planning for fun spending while still consistently saving.
This method takes some of the guesswork out of budgeting by setting parameters for you, and you can always adjust the percentages to better match your preferences and circumstances.
Budgeting and saving money is hard, but these approaches can allow you to set consistent goals without losing your mind in an attempt to track every dollar. Spend some time considering which plan works best for you and get the most out of your hard-earned cash! 🎉
Anti-budgeting: find the amount of money you’ll set aside each month for your emergency fund/retirement/general savings! Check to see if you can set a recurring transfer to have this amount sent to your savings account.
50/30/20 rule: You can choose the default percentages, or consider altering them to better fit your needs.
See if you can have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account.
Put a monthly reminder in your calendar to check back and make sure that your budget is working for you.
Disclaimer: The content on Young, Not Broke is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.