Friday, 1 February 2013

My 2013 Budget Part One – Why it won’t be 50-30-20

One of the first posts I wrote was about the 50-30-20 budget, which I now know comes from All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. I think that this model is fantastic as a starting point for first time budgeters, and it’s what I will probably be teaching my future children when they start earning a paycheck. When I was first learning how to manage my money (i.e. not just spend it all and then wonder why I was broke), this was the easiest budget to get my head around and follow.
The 50-30-20 budget is simple:
50% of your post-tax income is spent on needs.
30% is spent on wants.
20% is saved/invested.
So if I love it that much, why don’t I use it anymore?
I earn a high income (by my standards – realistically it’s about average in Australia), and while there are plenty of things I want, I try to resist lifestyle inflation. To spend 30% of my income on wants would be completely ridiculous for me. What am I going to do, hit up the shops every single weekend for new dresses and books? I’m much happier spending strategically on my wants – carefully assessing which wants will actually make me happy and which only seem as though they will.

One thing that always makes me happy: tending to my begonias.
So if I’m not going to spend 30% on wants, surely it should go into savings instead?

That’s the other category for which I won’t follow the 50-30-20 budget. I love saving. It makes me happy. I like knowing that when it’s finally time to replace Perfect Boyfriend’s car, we can pay for it in cash. I like knowing that I can get married without going into debt. I like knowing that if something terrible happens and I lose my job, I’ll have an emergency fund.

What’s more, while I enjoy my job and can’t imagine quitting anytime soon, I know I don’t want to work until 70. I look forward to the first day of official retirement, when I can wake up at a natural time for my body, take as long as I want to eat breakfast and go for a three hour walk before lunch.

There are plenty of blogs out there about early retirement, and from what I can gather, a savings rate of 50-75% is essential. So if I settled for a savings rate of 20%, what would happen to me if I got to 40 and wanted to retire? I’d have to keep working! That’s no fun. I like knowing that I have enough money saved to give me options for what I do with my life. This is why I believe your savings rate should be much, much higher than 20%. I’ve set myself a goal of saving 45% of my income in 2013, and I can’t wait to tell you on December 31st that I’ve achieved it.
Coming next Friday: My 2013 Budget Part Two


  1. oh i see you live in australia. but i love how you say you have a high income by your standards! That is so true, I feel like by my standards, my income is more than adequate...but in comparison to my friends and the area we live, it's probably in the lower quadrant... : (

    1. I'm in a similar position in that a LOT of my friends earn two or three times as much as me, and Perth has sadly become a high cost of living area with high incomes overall. But you know what? I have a comfortable roof over my head, healthy food, enough cash for the occasional pretty dress / fancy dinner date and I can still save plenty - so to me that means I'm rich!