Financial Rules of Thumb

Simple Guidelines That Make Managing Your Money Easier

When it comes to managing your money, rules of thumb can help guide your decisions. Such “rules'' are mental shortcuts. They’re meant to be broadly accurate based on experience—but they’re not foolproof. In this series, The Balance has assembled more than two dozen rules of thumb relating to budgeting, investing, buying a home, and more. Some are well-known, like the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting, while others are better known to insiders, like the rule for redeeming credit card rewards.

We’ve explained where each rule comes from and, more importantly, how it works. And because everyone’s situation is different and the financial world evolves, we’ve also included a “grain of salt” section that examines when the rule doesn’t work or should be tweaked to fit your experience. We’ve even debunked some rules completely.

To see the whole collection, click on the drop-down menu above that says “Part of FINANCIAL RULES OF THUMB.” You can then go through the series in a curated sequence or choose any article to view at random. Or, scroll to the carousel of images just below this text and navigate through the series that way.