Is the 80/20 Rule Better For Your Budget?

There are many different ways to budget your money. A budget can help you identify unnecessary expenses and keep your savings on track. But consistently tracking expenses isn’t always easy, the entire process may be a bit overwhelming for the average person. That’s why the 80/20 rule might work for you. This is the best way to ensure that you are saving towards your important financial goals while still covering your monthly expenses.  This philosophy focuses on automating that initial 20% so it never even hits your regular checking account.

However. whether the 80/20 rule is better for your budget depends on your individual financial situation, goals, and personal preferences.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, can indeed be beneficial for personal budgeting. In a budgeting context,  you would allocate 80% of your income towards living expenses and necessities, while the other 20% would go towards savings or paying off debt.

This budgeting method is ideal for people that never budgeted before and want to begin. 

Pros of the Using the 80/20 Budget

Using the 80/20 rule, can offer several benefits. Here are some of the pros of applying the 80/20 rule:

  1. Focus on significant expenses: The 80/20 rule allows you to identify and focus on the most substantial expenses that have the most significant impact on your budget. By recognizing these major expenses, you can prioritize them in your budgeting efforts, ensuring that they are adequately covered and managed.
  2. Streamlined budgeting process: The 80/20 rule simplifies the budgeting process by directing your attention to the most crucial spending categories. Instead of micromanaging every expense, you can focus on the larger picture and have a clearer understanding of where your money goes.
  3. Opportunity for savings and debt reduction: By prioritizing major expenses, you can identify potential areas for cost-cutting or negotiation. This can lead to savings that can be redirected toward debt reduction, building an emergency fund, or investing for the future.
  4. Encourages financial awareness: Applying the 80/20 rule to your budgeting requires understanding your spending patterns and identifying where your money goes. This promotes financial awareness and empowers you to make informed decisions about your finances.

Cons of the Using the 80/20 Budget

While the 80/20 rule can be a helpful guideline for budgeting and personal finance, it also has some limitations and potential drawbacks. Here are some cons of using the 80/20 rule:

  1. Individual requirements might differ: For some people, 80% might not be enough to cover their living expenses, especially if they live in a high cost-of-living area or support multiple dependents.
  2. Different financial objectives: While the 80/20 rule may help manage immediate expenses effectively, it might not give enough attention to long-term financial goals, such as retirement planning, saving for education, or buying a home. Neglecting these goals could hinder financial security in the future.
  3. Some people might have larger financial goals that require more aggressive savings strategies, like early retirement, in which the 80/20 rule might not be sufficient.
  4. Limited focus on debt management: Debt repayment is a crucial aspect of personal finance, especially for those with significant debts. The 80/20 rule may not prioritize debt reduction effectively, leading to slower progress in paying off loans and accumulating interest.

How Do You Set Up The 80/20 Rule Budget?

Here’s how you can apply the 80/20 rule to create a budget:

Identify Your Most Significant Expenses

Start by analyzing your budget to determine which expenses consume the most significant portion of your income. These could include housing costs (rent or mortgage payments), transportation, utilities, debt payments, and essential groceries.

Categorize Your Expenses

Organize your expenses into categories. Common categories include housing (rent or mortgage), transportation (car payments, gas, public transport), utilities (electricity, water, internet), groceries, insurance, debt payments, entertainment, dining out, hobbies, and other discretionary spending.

Calculate Your Income

Determine your total monthly income after taxes. This is the amount you have available to allocate across your budget categories.

Allocate Funds to Major Expenses

Allocate a significant portion of your income to cover the major expenses you identified earlier. These are your essential needs that must be met to maintain your basic living standards.

Focus on Reducing Major Expenses

Since these major expenses have the most significant impact on your budget, finding ways to reduce them can lead to significant savings. For example, refinancing your mortgage, using public transportation or carpooling instead of driving alone, or negotiating lower utility bills can make a substantial difference.

Manage Discretionary Spending

The remaining 20% of your spending categories typically consist of discretionary expenses such as entertainment, dining out, hobbies, and non-essential purchases. While these expenses are important for enjoyment and personal fulfillment, it’s crucial to manage them wisely. Allocate a portion of your income to discretionary spending while keeping it within a reasonable limit.

Regularly Review and Adjust

As with any budgeting approach, it’s important to regularly review your budget and make adjustments as necessary. Track your expenses, monitor your progress, and evaluate if your allocations are aligning with your financial goals. Adjustments may be needed to ensure you’re effectively managing both major and minor expenses.


It’s important to note that while the 80/20 rule can provide a useful framework, personal finance is highly individual, and what works best for one person might not work as effectively for another. Budgeting is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s essential to tailor your budget to your specific financial goals, lifestyle, and priorities. For some people, using a detailed budget that tracks all expenses and income might be more effective than just focusing on the 80/20 rule. Others might prefer alternative budgeting methods, such as the zero-based budget, where every dollar is allocated to a specific purpose.

Ultimately, the key to successful budgeting lies in understanding your financial situation, setting clear goals, and making informed decisions about your spending and saving habits. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget as needed can help you stay on track and achieve your financial objectives. So, while it’s a good starting point, the rule should be adjusted based on individual financial situations and objectives. 

It’s essential to assess your financial situation, consider your short-term and long-term objectives, and adopt a budgeting strategy that suits your needs best. If you find that the 80/20 rule isn’t meeting your financial goals, don’t hesitate to explore other budgeting methods that may be more suitable for your circumstances.