How Much of Your Paycheck Should You Save? Budgeting Basics for Gen Z

Are you a member of Generation Z and just starting to figure out the world of personal finance and budgeting? It can be an intimidating process to manage money, but it doesn’t have to be. Having a plan for your finances and sticking to it can help you achieve your financial goals. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss budgeting basics for Gen Z and how much of your paycheck should be saved. We’ll also discuss strategies to help make budgeting easier and more effective. By the end of this post, you’ll have the tools and resources you need to develop a budget that works for you.

Understanding The Importance of Budgeting and Saving

As a Gen Z-er just entering the workforce, you might think that saving and budgeting is something that only your parents or grandparents need to worry about. However, it is important to realize that building good financial habits from an early age can set you up for long-term success and financial security. 

In fact, starting to save and budget now can make a big difference in achieving your future financial goals, such as buying a house or retiring comfortably.

One of the biggest benefits of budgeting and saving is the peace of mind that it brings. 

By having a clear understanding of your income and expenses, you can feel more in control of your financial situation and reduce financial stress. Additionally, saving money can help you build an emergency fund, which can be crucial during unexpected situations like a job loss or medical emergency.

Budgeting and saving can also help you avoid debt and unnecessary expenses. When you have a budget, you are more likely to make informed spending decisions and avoid overspending. By setting aside money for savings each month, you can avoid relying on credit cards or loans to pay for unexpected expenses.

Overall, understanding the importance of budgeting and saving is the first step to building a strong financial future. With a little bit of planning and effort, you can start making smart financial decisions that will pay off in the long run.

Calculating How Much to Save Each Paycheck

One of the most challenging aspects of budgeting is figuring out how much to save each paycheck. The general rule of thumb is to aim for saving at least 20% of your income, but this may not always be realistic, especially for those just starting out in their careers.

A good place to start is to evaluate your monthly expenses and determine what is necessary and what is discretionary. Consider creating a budget that includes your fixed expenses such as rent, utilities, and transportation, as well as your variable expenses such as groceries, dining out, and entertainment. Once you have a clear picture of your expenses, you can determine how much you have left over to save each paycheck.

Another way to calculate your savings is to use the 50/30/20 rule. This rule suggests that 50% of your income goes toward necessary expenses, 30% goes to discretionary expenses, and 20% goes to savings. This can be a helpful guideline to ensure you’re allocating enough money towards savings each paycheck.

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s financial situation is unique and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting and saving. Some individuals may need to save more to reach their financial goals, while others may have more discretionary income to allocate towards savings. It’s important to evaluate your own financial goals and circumstances to determine what savings plan works best for you.

Regardless of how much you’re saving, the most important thing is to make sure you’re consistently putting money away each paycheck. Even if it’s a small amount at first, the habit of saving is crucial in building long-term financial stability and security.

The 50/30/20 rule of budgeting

If you’re new to budgeting, it can be challenging to know where to start. One popular approach is the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting. This rule breaks down your paycheck into three categories: needs, wants, and savings. The goal is to allocate 50% of your paycheck towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings.

Needs are essential expenses, such as rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and healthcare. This category should take up no more than half of your paycheck. If you find that you’re spending more than 50%, consider ways to reduce expenses, such as finding cheaper rent, cooking meals at home, or carpooling to work.

Wants are non-essential expenses, such as eating out, entertainment, and shopping. This category should take up no more than 30% of your paycheck. While it’s essential to enjoy your money, overspending in this category can quickly derail your budget.

Savings are essential to achieve long-term financial goals, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a house, or investing for retirement. This category should take up at least 20% of your paycheck. If you’re unable to save 20% initially, start small and work your way up over time.

Keep in mind that the 50/30/20 rule is just a guideline, and your budget may look different depending on your circumstances. The key is to find a budgeting approach that works for you and to be consistent in following it.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to assess your expenses and set savings goals to fit within the 50/30/20 rule.

Assessing your expenses and setting savings goals

Now that you understand the importance of budgeting and saving, it’s time to take a closer look at your expenses and set some savings goals. This step is crucial because it will help you determine how much you need to save and where you can cut back on expenses.

Start by making a list of all your monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, food, transportation, and any other bills you pay regularly. Be sure to also factor in any annual or semi-annual expenses, like car insurance or property taxes, by dividing them by 12.

Once you have a clear picture of your expenses, take a look at where you can cut back. Can you find a cheaper apartment or roommate to split expenses with? Can you meal prep instead of eating out every day? Are you paying for subscriptions or memberships you don’t use?

Based on your expenses and potential savings, set a realistic goal for how much you want to save each month. A good rule of thumb is to aim to save at least 20% of your income. However, if you have high expenses, it may be more difficult to reach that goal. In that case, aim for a lower percentage and gradually work your way up.

Don’t forget to also set a long-term savings goal, such as saving for a down payment on a house or building an emergency fund. Having a clear goal in mind will make it easier to stay motivated and stick to your budget.

Remember, budgeting and saving are all about balance. You don’t want to cut back on expenses to the point where you’re miserable, but you also don’t want to overspend and have nothing left to save. Finding the right balance may take some trial and error, but with time and practice, you’ll become a budgeting pro.

Tips for cutting expenses and increasing savings

Once you have a clear idea of your expenses, it’s time to identify areas where you can cut back and increase your savings. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  1. Meal prep and cook at home: Eating out can be expensive, so try cooking meals at home and packing lunches. This not only saves money but also allows you to control what you eat and make healthier choices.
  2. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use: It’s easy to forget about recurring subscriptions, but they can quickly add up. Assess which ones you can live without and cancel them.
  3. Use public transportation or carpool: If you drive to work every day, consider taking public transportation or carpooling to cut down on gas and maintenance costs.
  4. Buy used items: You don’t always need to buy brand new items. Look for second-hand options such as clothes, furniture, and electronics to save money.
  5. Negotiate bills and fees: Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or negotiate bills and fees. You could potentially save a lot of money over time.
  6. Avoid impulse buying: Before making a purchase, think about whether you really need it or if it’s just an impulse buy. If you can hold off on buying something, you might realize you don’t actually need it.
  7. DIY projects: Consider doing DIY projects instead of hiring someone to do them for you. This can save you money on labor costs and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Read Also: 12 Ways Working from Home Can Save You Money

Remember, cutting expenses doesn’t mean sacrificing everything you enjoy. It’s about finding a balance and being mindful of where your money goes. By making small changes, you can increase your savings and reach your financial goals.

Setting up a budgeting and savings plan

Now that you have a better understanding of your expenses and goals, it’s time to create a budgeting and savings plan. This plan will help you track your progress, stay on track, and make adjustments as needed.

Start by setting a monthly budget that aligns with the 50/30/20 rule. This means that 50% of your paycheck goes towards essential expenses, 30% towards non-essential expenses, and 20% towards savings and debt repayment. You can adjust these percentages based on your goals and priorities.

Next, set up automatic transfers to your savings account each month. This will help you save consistently without having to think about it. You can also consider setting up automatic payments towards any debt you may have.

Another important aspect of your budgeting and savings plan is tracking your expenses. There are many budgeting apps and tools available to help you do this. This will help you see where you may be overspending and where you can cut back.

Also, review your budget and savings plan regularly and make adjustments as needed. Life happens, and your expenses and priorities may change over time. It’s important to be flexible and make changes as necessary.

By setting up a budgeting and savings plan, you’ll be on your way to achieving your financial goals and building a solid foundation for your future.

Utilizing technology and resources for budgeting and saving

One of the biggest advantages of being a part of Gen Z is having access to a wealth of technology and resources that can help make budgeting and saving easier and more effective than ever before. Here are some of the top tools and resources that can help you take control of your finances:

  1. Budgeting apps: There are countless budgeting apps available today that can help you track your expenses, set goals, and stick to a budget. Some of the most popular options include Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and PocketGuard.
  2. Automatic savings plans: Many banks and financial institutions now offer automatic savings plans, which can help you automatically transfer a portion of your paycheck into a savings account or investment portfolio. This can be a great way to ensure that you’re consistently saving a portion of your income, without even having to think about it.
  3. Financial literacy resources: If you’re just starting out on your financial journey, there are many online resources available that can help you learn more about personal finance, investing, and budgeting. Some popular options include the Khan Academy Personal Finance Course, Investopedia, and the Personal Finance subreddit.
  4. Social media and online communities: Believe it or not, social media and online communities can be great resources for budgeting and saving tips, advice, and support. Consider joining groups or following influencers on Instagram or Twitter who specialize in personal finance and money management.

By taking advantage of these technology and resources, you can make the most of your paycheck and build a strong foundation for your financial future.

FAQs About How Much of My Paycheck I Should Save

Saving a portion of your paycheck can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to budgeting. To help answer some common questions about how much of your paycheck you should save, we’ve put together this FAQ section.

What’s a good percentage of my paycheck to save?

The rule of thumb is to save at least 20% of your paycheck, but this can vary depending on your financial situation and goals.

Should I save before or after taxes?

It’s generally recommended to save a portion of your income before taxes, as it allows for more tax savings and reduces the temptation to spend the money.

Can I adjust how much I save each paycheck?

Absolutely! Your savings plan should be flexible and adaptable to changes in your income and expenses.

What if I can’t save 20% of my paycheck?

 Don’t worry if you can’t save 20% of your paycheck right away. Start small and gradually increase the amount you save each paycheck as your financial situation improves.

How do I make sure I’m saving enough for emergencies?

Experts recommend having 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved for emergencies. Calculate your living expenses and set a goal for how much you need to save.

 Should I prioritize saving for retirement over other savings goals?

Saving for retirement should be a priority, but don’t neglect other savings goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a down payment on a house.


By following the budgeting basics and savings tips outlined in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to building a solid financial foundation. Remember, everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s important to assess your own needs and goals when deciding how much of your paycheck to save.


Budgeting and saving can be daunting tasks, but they are crucial for achieving financial stability and independence. By understanding the importance of budgeting and calculating how much to save each paycheck, Gen Z can develop a strong savings habit and set themselves up for success. Using the 50/30/20 rule and assessing their expenses, Gen Z can set realistic savings goals and make adjustments to their spending habits as necessary. 

Tips for cutting expenses and increasing savings can also go a long way in helping Gen Z achieve their financial goals. By setting up a budgeting and savings plan and utilizing technology and resources, Gen Z can take control of their finances and pave the way for a bright financial future. So, start budgeting and saving today, and watch your financial goals become a reality.

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