How to View These Budgeting Guidelines
These guidelines have been created for someone who really needs to put together a tight budget. If finances aren’t strained in your household, you can choose to be more relaxed and go beyond the guidelines in areas as long as you’re careful to do two things:
- You’re not spending more than you earn, and
- You’re allocating some money towards savings (savings are absolutely necessary for life’s many unexpected expenses. Don’t rely on credit for these unexpected expenses. Rely on money you’ve saved).
The category in these guidelines that people will most commonly exceed is the “Personal & Discretionary” expense category. The guidelines suggest you spend 5 – 10% of your income in this category. However, if you happen to have young children in daycare, have high education costs, take nice vacations, tithe, or have hobbies or recreational interests that aren’t cheap, you’ll quickly exceed the suggested maximum for this category. It’s important to know there is nothing wrong with exceeding this limit as long as your budget balances (your expenses don’t exceed your income).
You may also notice that if you spend the maximum amount in every category, you’ll exceed 100% of your income. These guidelines are only recommended ranges. Life is all about choices, but you can’t choose the maximum amount in all spending categories. Spending more in one category may mean that you’ll have to cut back in another category to make your budget balance. If you live in Canada’s far north or in a city where homes are very expensive, you may have to cut back more than an average Canadian would in the “Food” or “Housing” categories in order to afford your higher living costs.