April 2016 – My New Zero Based Budget

This is the budget I’ve put together. Not disclosing my income here, but I do have monthly HSA contributions, 6% of my gross going to my Roth 401k, plus a 3% match and a 2% employer retirement contribution. I like Zero based budgets because every dollar gets a name. At the same time they can be scary because there is no money left over.

A couple points:

  • Student loan is still being chipped away at. In January it was $12,845, now it’s $8,515. Tax return, half my bonus and extra money each month went toward it.
  • I don’t spend $300 a month on entertainment. When I go out with friends I can often get by spending $20. At most $40 in one sitting. There is a line between groceries and entertainment. $300 seemed like a number that would cover a more outgoing month.
  • This is a budget based on cashflow, not leveraging the usage of any high interest credit cards. Also avoiding the high interest rate minimum payment game.
  • Raises – Possibly getting one in the coming months.
  • Bonuses – This doesn’t factor them into account. The last one however was pretty substantial. I’m not banking on getting another one
  • I don’t own a home, I rent. My lease rate is effective until April 2017. I’m fine with not owning, though I may upgrade to a slightly fancier place next year.
  • Car Fuel – Variable – My car gets 22mpg city / 30hwy. So let’s assume an average of 24mpg. Premium fuel at Costco today was $2.09/gallon. At the normal gas stations it’s close to $2.40. I drive roughly 12000 mi per yr. 12000/24 = 500 gallons a year. 500*2.09=$1,045 1045/12 = $87. I fully expect fuel costs to rise so the $150 number sounds more like the old “normal”.
  • Car maintenance = not on here. I have oil changes and tire rotations for the next 3 years / 39k miles.
  • Clothing – not on here. I do buy new (inexpensive) clothes from time to time but that can also be part of the entertainment / grocery budget.
  • I’m still looking at ways to make an extra $100+ a week without going nuts. I e-mailed someone about helping to post Real Estate listings on Craigslist but didn’t get a reply. There are lots of other options, the more I think about it CL is probably one of the worst places to do this.
  • I have cut back buying lunch at work considerably. I estimate a $200/mo savings.
  • Not actually paying car payment yet. 2nd week of May, so banking the money in the meantime.
Monthly Budget

3400

Percentage to Total Portion of Budget Remaining
Rent

800

23.5%

$2600.00

Car Payment

544

16.00%

$2056.00

Student Loan

453

13.32%

$1603.00

Groceries

392.92

11.56%

$1210.08

Entertainment

300

8.82%

$910.08

Emergency Fund Add

200

5.88%

$710.08

Car Fuel (estimate)

150

4.41%

$560.08

Car Insurance (estimate)

106

3.12%

$454.08

Roth IRA Contribution

100

2.94%

$354.08

Cell Phone

92.16

2.71%

$261.92

TV + Internet

90.32

2.66%

$171.60

Apt Electricity

80

2.35%

$91.60

Dog Grooming

35

1.03%

$56.60

Gym Membership

21.6

0.64%

$35.00

Renters Insurance

20

0.59%

$15.00

Haircut

15

0.44%

-$0.00

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One thought on “April 2016 – My New Zero Based Budget

  1. The zero based budget thing is scary, I agree. But I think when I’ve done it in the past, I’ve been like you – had a “bucket” of sorts that could cover a few categories. (Like, does eating out go under entertainment if you are with friends, or is it food?) Doing amazing on that student loan paying off several thousand in just a few months! Wow!

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