Guilty Pleasure Budget Percentages

Okay, let’s talk about budget percentages on your guilty pleasures.  And, while we’re at it, let’s look at overall best practices for how much a few standard budget categories should line up with your overall income.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? Or that hobby that keeps your inbox full of sales and specials for your favorite brands? We all have something. 

Right now, I’m so uber focused on that big tiny house goal of ours for this year that I haven’t been too distracted….and there’s this whole accountability thing when you’re a personal finance coach and you blog about money stuff weekly. ?

Don’t worry I won’t get too geeky or math nerd on you, I’ll keep it simple.

  • Housing 25-30%: Your total house or rent payment (including principal and interest payment, property taxes, home insurance, and mortgage interest if applicable) should be about a quarter of your income.
  • Food 5-15%: This includes your groceries and any restaurant or take out grub too.
  • Personal 2-7%: Self-care, clothing, pocket cash….fits here.
  • Transportation 10-15%: Fuel, auto maintenance, and car payment if you have one – if not you may want to have a savings fund, sometimes called a sinking fund for a future car purchase.  You treat it ‘like’ a car payment that you sock away until you have your goal amount to go out and purchase a car…with cash, fancy pants.

Practical application demo?  You got it.

Sally – I love her, don’t you?  She’s one of my favorite go to women for an example. Sally and her spouse Sam bring home $8k per month after taxes.

  • 25% of that should go to housing, so $2,000 total housing payment.
  • 10% of that should go for food, equaling $800 per month – maybe 2/3 is on groceries and the other 1/3 goes for take-out or restaurants.
  • 5% of that should be spent on clothing, totaling $400 – perhaps this is a gym membership, ‘beauty’ upkeep and clothing…likely more for Sally than Sam.
  • 10% off that should be ear tagged for transportation, roughly $800. Perhaps this is an auto sinking fund of $400 per month, $100 per month towards an auto maintenance envelope, and $300 in fuel expenses.

How does your budget line up with the best practice percentages? Needing some ideas on where you can tighten up a few categories?  Here are a few of my own personal experiences.


This may be a bit of a punch to the gut, but I’m going to kindly tell you that – you may have over purchased in the housing category.  I’m not sure at what point the newly married twenty somethings (ourselves included) decided we needed a four-bedroom home at the top of our lender approved budget…. Being house poor is not fun.  The draw to then furnish and decorate that beast can quickly get you into credit card debt that you definitely don’t need.  I’m not saying you should sell and downsize right now, but keep this in mind if you are out there shopping or will be in the future.


I’m no coupon wielding grocery shopping guru; but I’ve found that we stick to our grocery budget best when we do one big shop for our staples monthly at Costco followed by weekly shops at our local grocery store in between for fresh produce, unique items that our needed for meals that week, etc.  We like purchasing from our local farmers market when it’s open as well. 


If you’ve followed along for a bit you know that I do two big shops per year; one is around back to school time and the other is on our girls’ annual beach trip with my Mom and sisters – outlet shopping, with winter bargains is a bunch of fun.  Not only do I get a number of items for the kids, but also for myself.  I do purchase items outside of those times too – but it’s typically a couple of items at a time, depending on what my dryer just ate, what needs tossed from the closet, or just a simple hankering for something new.

My hubby gets his clothes money in cash and shops when he needs to – he’s a big fan of the black t-shirt, and I haven’t been able to influence him otherwise. He’s on his own.

I don’t always buy brand new, in fact not often do I go new when I’m purchasing items outside of the big shopping trips. have two favorite local consignment shops – one for the girls, and one for the Momma.

For my local Portland Metro folks, here are so of my faves.
  • Refinery in Oregon City – 900 Main St. Ste 108 Oregon City, OR (for the mommas, also conveniently located within walking distance to my hair dresser)
  • We Love Kids in Milwaukie – 11200 SE Fuller Rd, Milwaukie, OR (for the littles)

I’m also a big fan on online consignment.  Thred Up is a great place to find a number of items for a steal of a deal.  In all situations, I’m pretty picky about what I’m purchasing – it has to look brand new…no stains, signs of wear, etc.

Most consignment shops, Thred Up included, also purchases items from you, or puts them on consignment for you.  My kiddos are pretty hard on their clothes, so most gets donated or tossed once it’s rotated from sister to sister, and the stuff that’s still in good shape goes to my younger niece.  Thred Up offers a closet clean out bag if you want to consign with them.  If you’d like to check them out here is a code to use to get $10 off your first shop, and I’ll get $10 bucks too.

Granted, you miss out on much of the ‘fun’ of trying on clothes…but Thred Up has an easy return policy. AND you can always text your besties, FaceTime your sisters and get opinions on the keeps and the returns.


Much like housing, as a society we tend to go over the top with vehicle purchases.  Instead of looking at how much total car we can afford, we instead look at how much the monthly payment is.  I’ve certainly been guilty of this too.  Can I fit a $600-$800 monthly payment into my budget, sure!  But do I want to fork over $35-45k for a vehicle, all of a sudden…I don’t.  You have to start thinking bigger.  It’s more than just the right now, you have to think big picture.

I hope that you have a little more insight into how to budget best for your guilty pleasures. Comment below and tell me about your favorites. Clothes horse? Shoe habit? Automobile envy?

P.S. Have you have signed up for the upcoming financial wellness webinar? Totally free – and sure to be a fun time. Sign up below to be on the waitlist, and I’ll let you know the dates soon.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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