How to budget like a Badass!

The essential skill that's also an indicator of your ability to successfully navigate through life. The essential skill that's also an indicator of your ability to successfully navigate through life.

How to Budget Like a Badass

(Psst: It's not the amount, it’s the percentage that counts).

When it comes to the financial foundation that makes everything in life possible, the two numbers you must know are;

  • how much income you take home each month? and
  • how much are you spending each month?

Jump Ahead

Put simply, we all need to spend less than we earn and have a plan about how we achieve that.

This is what we call a budget and it's really just you telling your money what you want it to do for you. How you use your budget is an indication of what's important to you and where you want to go in life.

As families we have a spending problem, and we have an expectation problem.Drew Browne - Director Sapience Financial

A new way of budgeting

If you're not familiar with the art of better managing your money, why not consider if a percentage based budget system can become a powerful habit-forming helper.

badass image

The power is in the percentage

This budget system splits all your spending into one of just three categories;




As your goals and financial needs change over time, you can change the spending percentages you allocate to your Wants, Needs and Savings.

What's included in the three categories?

  • Needs are essentials that include mortgage repayments, rent, utilities like power and water, food, healthcare and the usual household requirements. (A need could be further described as something that if not paid would bring legal action, the loss of a job or a significant sickness or injury).
  • Wants are the things you buy for personal happiness like gym memberships, Netflix, broadband, dining out and Friday night drinks with your mates after work.
  • Savings is the amount you put aside for your future. Savings help build your emergency savings fund and includes investing for the future, any extra contributions you might make to your super fund, additional payments to an investment property or even a future education savings plan for your kids

Fuzzy logic, Sushi and a breakfast with smashed avo

No conversation about needs –v– wants would be complete without a look at whether Sushi is a need or a want.

  • Food is both a want and a need, so it requires honest thinking on your behalf (and maybe a straightforward conversation with your spouse) about how each of you defines wants and needs.

It's your life so you get to make the rules, but if you’re not going to be honest with yourself, it's a hard life ahead.

So what's on your list of needs and wants?

How many times you eat out is an indication of how many wants you can fit into one month. Now don't get me wrong, a meal out is a great want (especially if it includes Sushi or Korean cuisine).

But you can't call eating out a need.

If you do, that's a deep rabbit hole that leads to a hard life ahead.

There is;

straight forward food, and there is

luxury food.

You get that.

When you're attempting to negotiate under pressure with your screaming four year old, whose hand is locked in a death grip on a rogue chocolate bar while you're standing in line at the slow-moving checkout, and you hear the words, “but I neeeeddd ittt ....” the distinction between need and want is abundantly clear.

Learn to budget like a badass with the 50-30-20 approach


The 50-30-20% approach divides all your spending into just one of three categories and then sets a maximum spending percentage to each category.

  • All you have to do is keep your spending under the set percentages and good budgeting becomes an automatic habit.

How it works with a real income

If your monthly take home income is $3,000 per month, using the example of the 50-30-20% budget, your spending plan would be;

  • 50% of your take home income for Needs (or up to $1,500)
  • 30% of your take home income for Wants (or up to $900)
  • 20% of your take home income for Savings (or up to $600)

How to start your 50-30-20 budget

  1. First, work out what your monthly take-home-pay is (the after tax in-your-pocket amount).
  2. Then divide your spending into the three main categories of Needs, Wants, and Savings.
  3. Next, track your expenditure for the first month and allocate it into one of each of these three categories.
  4. Now adjust your spending so you don't overspend in either of the three categories.

At the end of the month, if you see you've been overspending on stuff you want but don't really need, you’ll have to hold yourself accountable to the percentages you've set for your budget.

Why does it work?

  • Simplifying your personal finances into 3 main categories means you get a better understanding of your needs, wants and the future.
  • Being more intentional about where you put your money and why is a great way to learn a new skill.
  • Simple plans usually have a higher chance of success.

Clients tell us using this percentage approach to their family budget has freed up a lot of their time and reduced the arguments with their partners over money matters.

Change your percentages as you need

The one constant in life is change and life never quite works out the way you planned. As your needs change tweak your budget percentages.

If you want to save a deposit for a home or to afford an overseas holiday with the whole family, switching your budget to an alternative set of percentages for a time, can help you achieve your goals.

The only barrier to becoming a master of the percentage budgeting technique is your ability to separate what's a Need and what's a Want.

100% Badass

For your percentage based budget to be recognised as truly badass, there must be an amount set aside saving for future needs, emergencies and future plans.

Why is this rated Badass I hear you ask? Simple

It takes significant effort and self-control to live a little less today, so you have a backup plan and a future you can afford tomorrow.

The ability to use delayed gratification to plan and save is the key to successfully navigating your financial life.

The ability to master delayed gratification is a key indicator of a person's ability to successfully navigate their financial life.

5 Variations to the Needs Wants & Savings budget percentages




It's your money, so you get to make the rules

  • The percentage based budget simply helps you see what the future may hold based on your current spending habits.
  • When you need to adjust your financial priorities, like saving a deposit for a house, planning a wedding or even saving to take the kids on that trip to Disneyland you accidentally promised them in a fit of last resort begging to get them to stop their last public tantrum in the grocery store, (it happened to a friend of mine), you can simply adjust your percentage allocations as you need to achieve a particular goal.

Once you understand how to see past the numbers and work the power of the percentages, you’ll start to see where a person's spending habits will probably take them.

Perhaps it's time to learn how to budget like a badass. How far down you push the accelerator is up to you.

Take a second look at the Badass Percentage Based Budget 50-30-20.

Click here to Download our free Badass Badass Infographic Feel free to share it with your social community and get the message out.


Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial and Investment Services is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow national awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Any advice provided is general advice only and we have not considered your personal circumstances. Before making any decision on the basis of this advice you should consider if the advice is appropriate for you based on your particular circumstance.

drew browne pic

Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
Simplifying Financial Complexity

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