50/30/20 Rule Calculator


Organize your family budget like a pro with Calcopolis!


Suppose you're trying to cut corners in your monthly budget to meet a certain financial goal. In that case, the 50/30/20 rule can help you allocate funds to various spending categories while effectively setting money aside.

Calcopolis offers a 50/30/20 rule calculator to help you get started.

What Is the 50/30/20 Rule?

The 50/30/20 rule is a budgeting method designed to help people better manage their spending and saving patterns by dividing their monthly income (after tax) among three main categories so that 50 percent goes to necessities, 30 percent to wants, and 20 percent goes to savings.

Now, let's take a closer look at what each category means:

Necessities: 50 percent

According to the 50/30/20 rule, half of your after-tax income should cover your necessities.

These are the mandatory expenses that you must pay to survive at a basic level.

Necessities may include expenses such as:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Minimum loan/debt payments
  • Insurance payments; health or car
  • Utility bills; water, electricity, gas, internet, phone, and so on
  • Groceries and basic meals
  • Transportation.
  • Other expenses; childcare, personal care

Dining out, streaming subscriptions, and nail appointments aren't must-make payments. This category is only about financial obligations that you can't avoid.

Wants: 30 percent

According to the 50/30/20 rule, a third of your after-tax income should cover your wants.

These are the non-mandatory expenses that you want to spend money on rather than must pay to survive.

In other words, wants are expenses that you can avoid and still survive, but you choose not to. They're options that create comfort and improve your lifestyle.

Wants may include expenses such as:

  • Dining out
  • Gym membership
  • Game/show/concert tickets
  • Hair and nail appointments
  • Streaming subscriptions
  • Non-essential groceries
  • Vacations
  • Upgrades and extras

Savings: 20 percent

Finally, according to the 50/30/20 rule, a fifth of your after-tax income should be dedicated to your savings goals.

These can include:

  • Investments; for example, a real estate down payment
  • Saving accounts
  • Emergency funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Stocks
  • IRA (individual retirement account) contributions
  • 401(k)
  • Paying off debt

How To Calculate Money for the 50/30/20 Rule

The first step is to calculate how much money you make per month after deducting taxes. Once you figure out your after-tax income, follow the steps below:

  • To calculate your necessities budget, multiply your after-tax income by 50, then divide by 100
  • To calculate your wants budget, multiply your after-tax income by 30, then divide by 100
  • To calculate your savings budget, multiply your after-tax income by 20, then divide by 100

Calcopolis's 50/30/20 rule calculator can do this for you if you don't feel like crunching the numbers.

What Are the Benefits of Keeping a Balanced Monthly Budget?

benefits of saving

Ultimately, the 50/30/20 rule is meant to keep your budget balanced across the three areas of spending to ensure you're effectively using your money.

The 50/30/20 rule isn't supposed to make you enjoy life less. It's simply a way to help you become more conscious of your money and have more control over your spending.

Applying this rule lets you better understand your budget realities so you know the difference between what you really do and don't need.

The 50/30/20 rule also creates a consistent savings outlet, which results in steady net worth growth. This is the road to achieving financial safety.

Is the 50/30/20 Rule Realistic?

The 50/30/20 rule is more of a general outline to help you manage your finances, not a law that you must follow to the exact word.

As such, every person can have their own version of the rule because it varies depending on income.

For example, a regular middle-class household with an after-tax monthly income of $5000 that follows the 50/30/20 rule can spend $2500 on necessities, $1500 on wants, and $1000 on savings.

On the other hand, an upper-middle-class household with an after-tax monthly income of $12000 can alter their budget to follow a 30/20/50 rule where they save $6000 instead of $3600 per month to reach financial freedom more quickly.

Modifying Budget Plan for Different Life Stages

Starting Out: Young Adults

Entering adulthood means grappling with novel personal finance challenges. Often at the start of their careers, young adults might face significant student loan repayments.

Given these obligations, the typical 50/30/20 budget plan might be adjusted with more income going toward debt repayment.

At this stage, initiating a savings account, even with modest contributions, can set the foundation for future financial security.

Leveraging tools like the budget calculator can be beneficial in ensuring monthly after-tax income is allocated effectively across the three categories.

Navigating Responsibilities: Mid-Career Professionals

As one reaches the midpoint in their career, the financial landscape usually becomes more complex. With perhaps a home mortgage and family expenses, the ideal allocation within the three categories of the 50/30/20 budget might need tailoring.

Personal finance during this period often involves juggling necessities, personal desires, and focusing on both savings and aggressive debt repayments.

Eyeing Retirement: Pre-Retirees

The preretirement stage brings its own set of financial imperatives. An increasing chunk of the monthly after-tax income should be channeled into a retirement plan to ensure a comfortable future.

This might mean a recalibration of the classic 50/30/20 allocation, prioritizing long-term savings and debt repayments over short-term wants.

Savoring the Golden Years: Retirees

Upon retirement, the primary source of income often pivots from monthly salaries to pensions or savings account withdrawals. This phase necessitates meticulous personal finance management to ensure both daily necessities and healthcare costs are covered, all the while ensuring the retirement nest egg lasts.

Adjusting the 50/30/20 budget to suit specific retirement needs, be it health-related expenses or leisure pursuits, becomes paramount.

For individuals at every life stage, the budget calculator at Calcopolis offers an invaluable tool.

It not only adheres to the foundational three-category allocation but also allows for tweaks and deductions tailored to unique needs. This adaptability ensures that, no matter where one is in life, their budget plan remains both relevant and effective.

Comparisons with Other Budgeting Systems

alternative budgeting systems

When diving into the world of budgeting, the 50/30/20 rule often emerges as a standout. However, while this method neatly divides after-tax income into three primary segments, there are alternative systems that might resonate differently based on individual financial goals and lifestyles. Here's how some of the other popular budgeting methodologies compare:

Envelope System

This age-old method involves dividing your monthly cash into physical envelopes for different expenses, like groceries, entertainment, and debt payments. When an envelope empties, no more spending occurs in that category for the month.

While it offers a tangible way to manage finances, it doesn't harness technology's efficiency, such as using a calculator to determine precise spending limits.

Zero-Based Budgeting

Every dollar has a job in this budget rule. At the start of each month, the income minus expenses should equal zero. In essence, you need to "assign" every dollar of your monthly after-tax income, be it towards necessities, wants, or savings.

While this method encourages comprehensive financial awareness, it might be a tad complex for those seeking simple budgeting.

The 60% Solution

A slight variation to the 50/30/20 rule, this method suggests that 60% of one's income should go towards committed expenses like rent, insurance, and regular bills. The remaining 40% is divided into four categories: retirement contributions, long-term savings, irregular expenses, and fun money.

For those who feel the 50/30/20 allocation is too tight for essentials, this method might offer a better fit.

Pay Yourself First

A savings-centered approach, this method prioritizes setting aside a specific percentage (often recommended around 20%) of one's income directly into a savings account or investment before allocating money for any other expenses. The remaining income is then used to cover living expenses and debt payments.

While this method promotes strong savings habits, it might not provide detailed guidance on spending allocations.

FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

Gaining momentum among younger generations, the FIRE movement emphasizes aggressive savings, often upwards of 50% or more of one's income, to achieve early retirement.

Followers of this method often aim to have a nest egg that is 25 times their annual expenses, allowing them to withdraw about 4% annually to live on without depleting their principal amount.

While this strategy requires significant financial discipline and often a frugal lifestyle, it can lead to the allure of early retirement and greater financial freedom.

Final Thoughts

Applying the 50/30/20 rule to your monetary behaviors can help you prioritize your budget, and boost your savings but also help you reduce debt, become more financially aware, and realize personal/professional achievements.


Created by Lucas Krysiak on 2023-04-04 11:04:27 | Last review by Mike Kozminsky on 2024-04-05 11:26:13

© CalcoPolis 2021-2024 All rights reserved. Before using this website read and accept terms of use and privacy policy.