Feel free to download this free budget printable for yourself, and share it with others too.
How to use the zero based budgeting template
To view and use it, you’ll need to right click on this link and choose “Save as” or “Save link as” to download the pdf to your computer.
Once it’s downloaded, open it using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it and fill it in. (It’s a fillable, savable pdf form, so you can’t just automatically view it in many browsers or with Apple’s Preview, but you can use it with Acrobat once you’ve got it on your computer.)
It has budget categories for housing, transportation, utilities, food, debt (although hopefully someday that will be ZERO for you!), entertainment, pets, health & appearance, outside help (around the house), and miscellaneous. Finally, savings and income are included too since it’s a zero-based budget.
I tried to list a huge variety of items in this zero based budgeting template so that fewer things will slip through the cracks, but don’t feel like you have to use them all! Skip all of the ones that don’t apply to you.
What is a zero-based budget, anyway?
If you’re not already familiar with the term, a zero-based budget is where you account for all of your money each month. The idea is to plan out where it will all go, so that it goes where you want it to.
The biggest advantage to this method of budgeting is that there are no surprises, especially once you’ve done it for a while. No surprises are a good thing, because unexpected expenses can lead to debt.
When all of your income and spending is accounted for and planned out — including chunks for savings and having fun — things are a whole lot easier.
Stick with it
If you’ve tried budgeting in the past and failed, here’s a little secret. There’s no such thing as the perfect month, so stop beating yourself up or feeling like a failure when it doesn’t happen.
Instead, stick with that budgeting thing. You’ll eventually get everything added in that you’re really spending money on. (That’s why the budget form includes both “Planned” and “Actual” fields for each line item. Using both of those fields will help you adjust for the following month.)
Be realistic when filling out the form. Don’t write down what you think you “should” be doing. Write down what you’re actually doing.
If you don’t have enough money to cover all of your bills, savings, and fun money, you’ll want to do some juggling so you don’t end up in the hole. That might mean cutting back in certain areas, taking on additional work, or a combination of the two.
If you’re cutting back to pay off debt, that’s awesome. Just be careful not to cut back so much that you sabotage yourself later. Smaller, gradual changes usually work better because they become a normal part of your life.
If you have any feedback about the template, please feel free to email me or leave a comment. I hope you find it helpful :)