27 Jun 2023 | Blog

Harnessing every cent: The power of zero-based budgeting

couple budgetting together

Ever come across the concept of zero-based budgeting? If not, don’t worry. Originally conceived in the late 1960s, zero-based budgeting is a financial management technique that has gained renewed interest in recent years.

Traditional budgeting uses previous spending as a base, simply adjusting it upward for each subsequent period. This method often leads to certain costs and expenditures going unreviewed for extended periods. On the contrary, zero-based budgeting doesn’t take rising costs for granted. It necessitates a total rewrite of the budget in every cycle, warranting a thorough review and justification of all expenditures.

This methodology compels company divisions to exercise discipline in their spending habits and detect inefficiencies in their processes. While primarily employed by corporations, zero-based budgeting can also be a powerful tool in managing personal or household finances.

Building a Personal Zero-Based Budget

Incorporating a zero-based budget in your personal financial management can help you to:

  • Examine current expenses,
  • Validate new expenditures,
  • Comprehend your spending patterns,
  • Curb impulsive purchases,
  • Reach your saving targets.

To construct a household zero-based budget, you can follow these steps:

  1. Collate all your income sources (salary, freelance work, rental income, etc.) over a predetermined period.
  2. List all your outgoings for the same duration, encompassing essentials like housing, groceries, credit card payments, and all other expenses.
  3. Categorise expenses into groups like Debts, Necessities, Savings, Entertainment, etc.
  4. Calculate the average cost for each category.
  5. Distribute your income among the categories with the aim to allocate every dollar, leaving a zero balance at the end.

Remember to revisit your budget every quarter, or more frequently if your income fluctuates. If a category falls short, re-examine all categories to validate each cost and make adjustments as needed. If there’s surplus income, consider diverting it towards debt repayment or savings.

The Pros and Cons of Zero-Based Budgeting

Zero-based budgeting is also an excellent mechanism for teaching teenagers about budgeting and savings as they start earning. It inculcates a habit of living within their means and encourages thoughtful spending.

However, it’s important to remember that zero-based budgeting is labor-intensive due to its deep analysis requirement. This might cause you to lose sight of your long-term financial goals as you focus on the immediate budgeting period.

In a business setting, zero-based budgeting offers increased insights into revenue and cash flow. Nevertheless, it might lead to underfunding in areas not directly linked to revenue generation, such as employee training.

As a tool for managing personal finances, zero-based budgeting grants a clearer perspective of how and where your money is spent. If you’re contemplating overhauling your budget and wondering if zero-based budgeting might work for you, your accountant can provide guidance.

Alternatively, you can start sketching out your own zero-based budget with a notepad or a spreadsheet. You might find that some of your expenditures fail to hold up under close inspection. On the other hand, you might also discover that you’re finally in a position to start planning that long-awaited family vacation!

Need some help? Have some questions?

Are you ready to take the next step and make every cent count? Zero-based budgeting could be the method you’ve been seeking to fully control and understand your spending.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable financial advisors at Stream Financial for further guidance. You can also explore our range of financial tools to help create and manage your zero-based budget.

Take control of your finances today. Contact us now to get started!

The information contained on this website has been provided as general advice only. The contents have been prepared without taking account of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned on this website, consult your own financial adviser to consider whether that is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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