Build savings with 50/30/20, pay yourself first and automation

Your personal finances affect all aspects of your life now — and in the future. But if you haven't formed a saving habit (or have temporarily lost it!), here are some ideas to get you started saving, including the simple and effective 50/30/20 approach discussed below.

50/30/20 simple easy budget guideline

Gain these saving benefits:

  1. Have an emergency fund with a set savings goal. A standard goal is to have roughly 3-6 months of essential expenses in case of lost income. But you could start with a simple number, such as $1,000.

  2. Cover periodic, planned expenses, for example medical, gifts, insurance, subscriptions, car and home maintenance.

    • You can spot an essential expense by asking: Do I need this purchase in order to live in safety and dignity? If I lost my job, would I keep paying for this? A "yes" answer means the expense is essential.

  3. Achieve long term goals, such as purchasing cars, a home, or paying for vacations.

  4. Retire with greater peace of mind, be ready for that time of life when you stop working but your living expenses don't.

What would make saving money easier?

If you say "higher pay" you're probably wrong. Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, naturally end up spending more money after getting a raise or new job. And, yes, you could get a second job, but is that practical? Is that a good way to keep your life in balance?

Save with these easy, effective options

  1. Use the 50/30/20 approach to save

    • Work with what you have now. Take stock of your income and expenses. Adjust so that about 50% of your money is going to essential needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% for savings and debt pay-off. Keep this practice going. Over time and you'll see increased savings for your Future You.

      • Tip: It's not unusual to build your budget then have it fall apart when payment for something you forgot is due, such as a subscription. This is an example of a planned periodic expense. Study these as a way to see how much you spend that isn't helping your long term savings. With this insight and budget adjustments you'll be able to protect your emergency savings. You'll also reduce stress that comes from being short on cash and avoid using credit cards for random expenses.

  2. Pay yourself first

    • Put a portion of each paycheck into a savings account before you use it to pay for anything else, including your essentials and non-essentials. This approach is powerful and highly recommended.

  3. Automate your savings

    • This goes well with PYF above. Use direct deposit with your paycheck. Then inside online banking you can set recurring payments across your accounts.
    • Another option to explore: sign up for a 401K at work.

Unsure where to start?

If you don't have an emergency fund, start with that.

After that, if you're unsure what to do, just pick any one of the main categories (periodic expenses, long term goals, retirement) and start saving. No matter what you choose, you'll be forming the saving habit. You'll be surprised how fast your savings will add up now and for the future.

Go to main navigation