Is Zero-Based Budgeting Good? It Is If You Like Saving Money!

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we will get a commission (at no cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Please read our affiliate disclosure for more information.

If you’re looking for an effective way to manage your finances, zero-based budgeting is a good solution.

Speaking from experience, this budgeting method can help you control your spending, save more money, and achieve your financial goals faster than you ever thought possible.

What, exactly, makes zero-based budgeting so good?

Let’s examine some of the key benefits of zero-based budgeting and why you should consider using it in your financial life.

Is Zero-Based Budgeting Good For Managing Your Money?

Yes, many financial experts consider zero-based budgeting the best, most effective way to manage your finances. Since zero-based budgeting requires you to give every dollar of your income a specific purpose, it creates clear financial boundaries and leaves little room for wasteful spending.

This, in turn, can help you save money and reach your financial goals more quickly.

Benefits of Zero-Based Budgeting:

I’ve already mentioned a few key benefits of zero-based budgeting, but let’s take a more in-depth look at why this method is so effective.

Is Zero-Based Budgeting Good? 10 Awesome Benefits | Be The Budget

1: Financial Specificity

Zero-based budgeting gives you down-to-the-dollar control of your spending habits.

Rather than grouping your money into large, general categories, you assign a specific purpose to every dollar you earn. This could include everything from rent and groceries to savings and subscription payments.

This level of specificity can help you identify your bad spending habits, make better in-the-moment decisions, and make consistent progress toward your financial dreams.

2: You Can Confidently ‘Save First,’

When you assign a purpose to every dollar of your income, you can confidently put money into savings at the beginning of your pay cycle and live off of whatever is leftover.

Rather than trying to save whatever money is leftover at the end of every month, you can use your budget to plan your expenses around your savings. That way, you can move money into savings or investments right when you get paid, without worrying that you’ll have to pull a portion back out.

This is often called the “save first” method, and it’s a great way to ensure that you make consistent progress on your long-term financial goals.

3: Easier Goal Tracking

Tracking your progress toward specific goals is easier with a zero-based budget.

Since you know exactly how much money you need to save or invest for each goal, it’s easy to track your progress. More importantly, it’s easy to see when you get a little off-track and make quick adjustments and course corrections.

4: Helps You Prioritize Your Spending

When you live on a zero-based budget, you have to consider every purchase you make carefully.

This can help you develop better spending habits, establish a clearer line between your ‘wants’ and your ‘needs,’ limit frivolous spending, and improve your financial discipline.

5: More Financial Confidence

As your zero-based budgeting skills improve, it’s hard not to gain a greater sense of financial confidence.

When you have control over your spending, and you’re making consistent progress toward your goals, it’s easier to make smart financial decisions. And the better financial decisions you make, the more your confidence will grow.

6: Greater Clarity

A zero-based budget can help you see your financial life more clearly. From your day-to-day spending habits to your long-term financial goals, it’s easy to visualize your progress and find areas for improvement.

Do you need to cut back and make changes?

Are there areas of your budget that are too restrictive?

Is there room to increase your savings or make additional debt payments?

A zero-based budget can help you find the answers to all of these questions and more.

7: Improved Financial Communication For Couples

In addition to greater financial clarity, a zero-based budget can help you improve the communication between you and your spouse on the subject of money.

There’s no denying that money is one of the leading causes of stress in relationships. But by using a zero-based budget, you and your spouse can get on the same page about your finances, share your financial goals, and work together to achieve them.

For many couples, this is the driving force behind their budget.

8: Less Financial Guilt And Regret

Have you ever regretted a frivolous purchase or felt guilty about the way you handle your money?

You’re not alone.

I’ve made more than my fair share of stupid financial decisions over the years!

Fortunately, zero-based budgeting can help you prevent these kinds of mistakes.

Whether it’s a large purchase you can’t afford or a spontaneous spending decision that will hurt your financial progress, a zero-based budget can help you assess the implications of your choices and make regret-free financial decisions.

9: More Fun

For many people, the concept of living on a zero-based budget sounds like a restrictive, boring, or pointless activity. I’ve heard it all:

  • “Zero-Based Budgeting takes the spontaneity out of life!”
  • “That’s for nerds.”
  • “I don’t like math. Why would I subject myself to that?”

On the contrary, zero-based budgeting actually sets you up for a ton of fun in the future.

First, it helps you save more, invest more, and build wealth so that you end up with a ton more money to do fun things!

Second of all, you can work recreational spending into your monthly budget every single month. That way, the money you do spend on fun is completely guilt-free!

10: Helps You Build Good Financial Habits And Traits

Last but not least, zero-based budgeting is a great starting point for building strong and healthy financial habits.

From taking a more mindful approach to your spending habits to setting and achieving financial goals, zero-based budgeting principles can help you make positive changes in your financial life.

Plus, zero-based budgeting requires discipline. Not only do you have to take the time to create a budget each month, but you also have to log your expenses consistently, make wise spending decisions, and stick with it.

Is Zero Based Budgeting Better Than 50/30/20 Budgeting?

Yes, zero-based budgeting is better than 50/30/20 budgeting because it gives you more control over your financial life.


Because the 50/30/20 budgeting method lacks the level of personal accountability and financial clarity you get with a zero-based budget. Plus, it leaves way too much room for wasteful spending.

Think of it this way: imagine your budget was a football team. (Stick with me on this metaphor.)

You’re the coach, your income is all the players on your team, and your budget is your game plan.

If you took the 50/30/20 approach, you would group all the players into three categories: offense, defense, and special teams.

  • The offensive players’ jobs would be to “do offensive things.”
  • The defensive players’ jobs would be to “do defensive things.”
  • The special teams players’ jobs would be to “do special teams things.”

Sure, this approach would require less work as a coach, but I doubt you’d ever win a game.

On the other hand, if you took the zero-based budgeting approach, you would assign a specific role to every player. That way, if any of them decided to stop doing their respective job or interfere with another player’s job, you would know who was causing the problem and how to fix it.

Ultimately, the zero-based budgeting team would dominate the 50/30/20 team every time.

To be clear, I’m not saying the 50/30/20 guidelines aren’t useful. I actually think they’re a pretty good starting point for your zero-based budget. 

I’m just saying that if you want to get the most out of your income and take control of your finances, a zero-based budget is the way to go.

Final Thoughts

Zero-based budgeting is good for anybody who wants to gain greater control and confidence in their financial life.

Whether you want to save more money, invest more consistently, or simply improve the financial communication between you and your spouse, the benefits of a zero-based budget are hard to ignore.

The question is, are you ready to start living on a zero-based budget? 

If not, what’s giving you pause?

Be sure to drop your thoughts in the comments!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
30-day Financial habit tracker bundle | Be The Budget

Download Our Free 30-Day Financial Habit Tracker Bundle

These easy-to-use habit trackers will help you stay accountable and motivated on your journey to financial success.