Saving money doesn’t need to be hard. To get your personal finances under control, you need to start thinking deliberately about your financial situation. What does that mean? Well, firstly, it means you need to make yourself a budget.

Budgeting can be tough if you’re trying to just do it all on your own. You need some kind of structure or rules to help you tackle your finances directly. Today, we’re talking about one specific structure: the 50/30/20 rule.

Fifty Percent: Necessities

Half of your paycheck each month should be going toward your necessities. Your necessities, including things like bills, rent/mortgage, utilities, and food, should not exceed half of your pay. If these things combined do exceed half of your monthly pay, then something’s got to give. Either you need a more affordable lifestyle, or you need a higher-paying job.

Of course, it’s easier said than done to change your lifestyle to fit your pay, or vice-versa. However, thinking about this in a mindful way is the first step toward making changes that will make your financial life a bit easier. There’s nothing wrong with downsizing to live within your means!

Thirty Percent: Spending Money

The reason the 50/30/20 rule is great is that it has a built-in system for allowing you to spend money on the stuff you want without breaking your budget. This is done in a pretty ingeniously simple way: you take thirty percent of your pay and set it to one side. That’s your spending money. That’s it! There are no strings attached to this money, so spend it on whatever you want.

This is a great way to reward yourself for sticking to your budget and saving money when you can. After all, what’s the point of having a job and making money if you don’t get to enjoy some of it, right? You need to have at least part of your income set aside as fun money.

Twenty Percent: Savings

This is the really important part: the last 20 percent of your pay needs to go into a savings account or into investments. This is the only way to get ahead! Most people don’t make enough money to just invest all the time, so setting up a system where you consistently save money is critical to achieving long-term financial goals.

If you stick to the structure, you’ll find yourself saving money and living better in no time. Thinking critically about your finances is more fun than it sounds!