When it comes to saving money, the (simplified) advice I typically see for income is 20% savings / 50% necessities / 30% discretionary.

Do these recommended percentages change for a family where only one adult works? (with a spouse and child)

  • 1
    You offer a rule of thumb that itself can be debated. This will be a tough question to answer as it’s written. Commented May 8, 2019 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Simplified saving percentages depend many more factors than just single income versus dual income. Your saving percentages should be based on your needs and goals.

  • If 50% necessities still covers your needs for a single income, then that's your ratio. If if covers way too much, you might cut it down to 40%.
  • If you have a goal of early retirement, you might increase your savings to 30% (or add an investment area).

As you can see, the ratios really depend on your situation. You can ask for advice on the ideal ratios and get a different answer every time. The important thing is to fit it to your situation, focusing on your financial goals.


Do these recommended percentages change for a family where only one adult works? (with a spouse and child)

No, that's the beauty and limitation of a simple percentage-based rule. You don't get a simple rule by adding in many variables or exceptions.

Most of these simple rules give only limited insight into an individual's financial health. You can be financially healthy with very different percentages.

That said, I'm pretty confident that a 20% savings rate is far above average (hunting a good source to confirm). Maintaining a 20% savings rate with a family and one income seems solid, but whether or not it is actually adequate/reasonable depends on a lot of other factors about your situation. The better way to budget is to do so based on a financial plan that factors in your specific short and long-term financial goals.

There are enough resources online that you can put together a solid financial plan with some research, but it could be worthwhile to meet with a financial planner (CFP) to help review/develop your financial plan every once in a while. If you do meet with a CFP, I'd try to find one that isn't trying to sell you an investment, typically this means paying for their time rather than a free consultation, but I've sat through a free consultation that wasn't a full-on sales pitch.

  • "I've sat through" should be "I haven't sat through"? Commented May 8, 2019 at 19:49
  • @HenningMakholm No, I actually have sat through one that wasn't just a sales pitch. They wanted my investment, but it felt like a proper review with no pressure and some decent advice.
    – Hart CO
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 20:30

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