Financial Pyramid offers spending guidelines

Wouldn’t budgeting be simple if there was one formula that fits every person in every situation? Unfortunately, money management is not one-size-fits-all. Of course, there are formulas out there that you can try to follow. For example, here is one commonly accepted way to allocate your spending:

  • Housing (20-35%)
  • Personal Care (2-4%)
  • Food (15-30%)
  • Insurance (4-6%)
  • Personal Debt (20% max)
  • Health (2-8%)
  • Transportation (6-20%)
  • Utilities (4-7%)
  • Clothing (3-10%)
  • Misc. Items (1-4%)
  • Savings (10% min)

If you follow this formula exactly, you might be practicing sound money management techniques.  However, I don’t necessarily recommend that you try to shove your square peg into this round hole—that just isn’t the way life works.

Consider an example from a different (though surprisingly similar in many ways) industry.  In 2005, the USDA replaced their horizontally-orientated Food Pyramid with the USDA Website, each person has a unique Pyramid that is right for them based on their situation.

I think the USDA’s approach also works for money management. Consumers need to make their own unique smart choices. For help, they can look to guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. And so, I offer you the Financial Pyramid as a guideline on how to allocate your spending.  

You might be wondering what's at the top of the pyramid to make it worth running up all those stairs.  Well, that's up to you too.  What are you working toward?

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.8/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Consumer Federation of America Consumer Federation of America
    MMI is a member of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.