How To Easily Organise Your Money Using the 50/30/20 Rule

Budgeting may not be exciting but it is among the best paths to building wealth and gaining financial independence.

Creating wealth is difficult but by learning how to organise your money, you have already taken one of the most important steps. 

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed,” said Edmund Burke, an 18th Century British politician. Paraphrasing for our purpose, if you command your income, you shall be wealthy and free but if your income controls you, you shall be poor indeed. 

Being controlled by your income means spending it without a plan even to the extent of going into debt (especially credit card debt) in order to keep up with an inflated lifestyle. 

On the other hand, controlling your money means you spend it according to a well-defined plan and you are saving to build wealth for the future. In other words, telling your money where it should go instead of wondering where it went, as John Maxwell, award-winning motivational speaker, puts it.

Yes, organising and controlling your money requires discipline, but gaining know-how about personal finance and using the right tools will make it easier. 

In what follows, we will show you how to organise your money effectively.

We’ll cover:  

  1. How to do a household budget with the 50/30/20 rule
  2. How to organise your money spending
  3. Make saving money easier with automation

[Do you want to build wealth starting this year? Then you will need to organise and take control over your finances. Sign up for Maly to access the tools that will help you spend within your means and save for the future.] 

1. How to do a household budget with the 50/30/20 rule

Why budgeting is essential

When John Maxwell, quoted above, was talking about telling your money where to go, he was discussing the importance of having a budget. 

A budget is a plan outlining how you want every dirham of your income to be spent. Instead of receiving your income and spending on the next thing that comes to your mind (until you exhaust it), a budget guides you, ensuring that your spending reflects your priorities and values. 

Without a budget, you are at the risk of overspending until the point when you are deep in debt. If it is credit card debt, you can end up paying late fees for not meeting due dates on credit card debt and damaging your credit score. 

Also, there is the likelihood that you keep buying what you don’t need while you overlook other important things you should be spending on (especially saving for your future). 

In fact, the reason why many people in the UAE find it difficult to save is because of “a rise in non-essential spending, increasing debt burdens to live up to their ‘Dubai standards’ when they can’t really afford it,” according to Khaleej Times

If you don’t want to be knee deep in debt while having no savings to deal with emergencies or to prepare for retirement, then you need a budget. 

The 50/30/20 rule

Budgeting tends to be complicated, with many templates and budgeting apps available. But with the 50/30/20 rule it can be as simple as ABC. 

Popularised by Elizabeth Warren, a US Senator, this budgeting tool has been used successfully by many financial advisors to help their clients organise their money. If you want to control your finances, this rule is a good first step. 

how to organize my money

This rule requires that you spend 50% of your income on your needs, including food, clothing, insurance (health, car, etc.), utility bills, etc. 30% of your income will go to your wants including entertainment, eating out, travelling, gym membership, etc. The remaining 20% will be saved. 

If, for example, you earn AED 5,000 every month, AED 2, 500 will be for your needs, AED 1, 500 for wants and the remaining AED 1,000 will be your savings. 

Once you have done this high level budgeting, you will then go a step lower to allocate AED 2,500 among your various needs and AED 1,500 among your various wants. 

The goal here is to have a scale of preference (representing your priorities) and allocate the money based on that priority. “The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations,” according to Jack Lew, a US diplomat. 

If you are single and living alone, your budget will be an individual budget but if you are married or living with other people you are responsible for, you will need to do a household budget that will also include their needs and wants. 

Taking hard decisions

Your first budget will often require you to make difficult choices. If you are used to your impulsive spending habits, it will be strenuous adjusting to a budget. 

Consequently, your first attempt at budgeting may see your monthly bills (needs and wants) exceeding 80% of your income. In fact, they may add up to more than 100% of your income. 

The solution is not to borrow money to make up. Instead, you must learn how to cut off items from your budget until your monthly bills are exactly 80% of your income or less

This may mean looking for a more cost-effective store for your groceries, cancelling some of your entertainment subscriptions, cooking at home instead of eating out, buying in bulk, among other cost saving ideas. 

This step might be difficult, as it was for many, but if you persist, you will be able to cut your needs and wants to 80% of your income. Remember that “by sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest,” said Agesilaus, one of the Kings of Sparta. Freedom from debt in the present and in the future (your savings will be available for any emergency) is liberty indeed.

2. How to organise your spending

Interestingly, creating a budget is the easier part. “A budget tells us what we can't afford, but it doesn't keep us from buying it," said William Feather, a 20th century American publisher and writer. 

In essence, the question is if you will be able to keep to that budget. What if everyone is raving about how good the food at that new restaurant is and you have already exhausted your “eating out” budget? Won’t you succumb and end up saving less than you intended? 

Organising your spending with multiple Visa debit cards

Of course, there is the place of discipline in keeping to your budget. But a company like Maly has provided tools that can aid your discipline. 

Maly allows users to create multiple Visa debit cards for one account such that they can have a physical or digital debit card for every expense category. 

Suppose you have divided your needs and wants into 6 categories (food and groceries, eating out, rent and insurance, subscriptions and bill payments, transport and travelling, clothing, for example) you can create a Visa debit card for each of these 6 categories. 

How does this help you?

By separating money meant for eating out from money meant for food and groceries in two different debit cards, for example, you make it difficult to spend money meant for the latter on the former. 

If you have budgeted AED 300 for eating out and put that amount in a debit card, then there is no way you can overspend on that expense category. Since these are not credit cards, you cannot spend more than the amount you have loaded.

You can also set up automatic payments for things like utility bills on the assigned debit card to avoid late payment or completely forgetting to make payments. 

Similarly, these multiple visa debit cards are useful if you have a family and different people are responsible for different expense categories. Suppose your domestic helper is in charge of food and groceries. You can give them a debit card loaded with the budgeted amount. 

If you have a child, you can also put their budgeted allowance in a debit card. This can even be an opportunity for them to learn how to spend within a budget, a lesson that will be vital for them in the future. 

This solution is also appropriate if you have a dependent. You can create a card for them and preload it with the amount you are comfortable giving them every month. By teaching them how to also spend within a budget, there will be less risk of them unsettling you and your finances. 

By learning how to organise your money spending in this way, you will make it easier to control your finances and save for the future.

3. Make saving money easier with automation

Saving money in the UAE is hard. But with the right attitude and tools, what is hard need not be impossible. 

Though multiple debit cards can be the best way to manage expenses, it must not stand alone as a money management tool. 

Why?

If that restaurant continues to appeal to you even after your debit card has been exhausted and your 20% savings is lying there in your checking account, you can always take from that savings to satisfy your craving, especially now that online banking has made things easy. 

This is why Warren Buffett advocated that you should not “save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” That is, save before you spend. 

In our example, if your savings are not lying in a checking account, then you will be forced to discipline yourself and avoid eating in that restaurant until the next month (it will still be the same food by then anyways). 

The other tool Maly has provided to accompany multiple Visa debit cards is automated saving. With this, you can ask Maly to automatically carry out a direct deposit of a particular amount from your checking account on a particular day (typically your pay day). 

In addition to automated deduction from your checking account, Maly also allows you to save from your daily purchases. If your groceries cost AED 299, for example, you can choose to deduct AED 300 from your Maly debit card and save the remaining AED 1. 

You can set it up to round up your purchases to the nearest 10, 5, or 1 dirham. 

How to divide money for savings

Just as there are multiple Visa debit cards to organise spending, there are also multiple savings cards to organise savings. Each of these cards is equivalent to a savings account.  

Suppose you are saving for an emergency fund, the downpayment on a property, and for a new car. You can create three savings cards (representing the three savings goals) and then allocate your monthly savings between them. This ensures that there is no money lying around in your bank account

Let’s conclude with some words about saving for emergencies. 

This is one of the most important reasons for saving money. “Save when you don’t need it, and it’ll be there for you when you do,” said Frank Sonnenberg, a best selling author. Again, the ability to meet your emergencies without borrowing money (or selling your assets at a discount) is a liberty that should be cherished. 

Before allocating all your savings to a retirement account or buying a car, ensure you have an emergency fund. Financial advisors have proposed that this fund should hold three to six months of your monthly expenses (needs and wants), depending on factors like job security, number of dependents, etc. 

With your emergency fund in tact, you can more confidently save for other short-term goals and also invest for long-term purposes. 

Finally, if you need help deciding how much to save towards your financial goals every month (emergency funds, home, car, etc.), you can use the savings goal calculators provided by Maly. 

[Are you ready to control your finances so you can build wealth for the future? Sign up for Maly to get access to money management tools like multiple debit cards and automated saving that will make wealth building seamless for you.] 

Takeaways

  • There is no way to build wealth, increase your net worth, and improve your financial life without learning how to organise your money. 
  • A budget helps you control your money instead of it controlling you. It is crucial to avoiding debt and building wealth. 
  • With multiple debit cards, you can avoid overspending and make it easy to keep to your budget.
  • Saving before spending though automation will also help you save for your future financial goals instead of on present cravings. 
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