It is fun to teach elementary school fractions. If you put 1/3 and 1/2 on the board and ask how much pie a student wants, the answer is definitely 1/3 until you draw the pie showing the fractional parts. One third is a fraction that I see in finances also. No more than 1/3 of our income should be spent on rent or mortgage.
If you are working with someone living on an income of $900 a month, they have quite a bit to say about this. Most notably is where can you find rent that low. The more that our budget moves away from the 1/3 mark, the more stress it puts on our finances. There is no room for anything unexpected.
There is the 1/3 rule for extra cash that comes perhaps because of a tax or credit refund. If you can't apply the entire amount toward your debt, at least use 1/3 towards debt, 1/3 for now, and 1/3 for an emergency fund. I always feared that the entire amount would be used for a new television to watch the Super Bowl. Luckily this year, checks were not distributed until the end of February.
When teaching a financial class, I always ask the class how many do not even open their bills knowing that they can't pay—about 1/3 of the class. Let's change that!
Opening a bill when it comes is a step forward. Saving to pay the bill when it comes is a huge step forward.
The more that we understand finances, the better able we are to make financial decisions that enable our lives. Take a financial class and see if it can reduce your financial anxiety by 1/3!