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Zero-based budgeting


What is zero-based budgeting?

If you’re searching for a simple and savvy budgeting tool, the zero-based method might be for you. What is it and how does it work? Let’s take a look.

What is zero-based budgeting?

Zero-based budgeting is a handy way of keeping your spending and savings on track. The goal is to have your income minus your expenses (and savings!) equal zero.

Trying to have no cash leftover might sound funny, but the beauty is you’re giving every dollar a job by splitting your income into different buckets like rent, bills and food. Plus, it factors in allocating money to whatever you’re saving for and that all important treat yourself bucket. Win win!

How does a zero-based budget work?

Here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Decide if you’ll run your budget weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
  2. Work out what your total income is.
  3. Jot down all your expenses (don’t forget those work lunches!)
  4. Minus expenses from your income and see how close you get to zero.

If you’re heading into the red, try cutting down on things like online shopping or takeaways. But if there’s cash left over, you could treat yourself to a night out with mates or give your savings and emergency fund a top up.

Take a look at this weekly budget example with an income of $1K to see how you could divvy up your cash.









Streaming sites


Eating out






Emergency fund


Cash left over


You could also pop in extra expenses like debt repayments, upcoming bills (car rego anyone?) or a gym membership if you love working up a sweat.

What are the advantages of a zero-based budget?

  • It can chop and change to suit your lifestyle.
  • You get to see exactly where your cash goes.
  • If your income and expenses stay the same, it could be as simple as set and forget.

What are the disadvantages of a zero-based budget?

  • It might take a hot minute to set up, plus tracking every dollar means time (and patience!)
  • If your income and expenses change weekly, you might find yourself always re-doing the maths.

Pro tip: If you’re after a different budgeting method, check out the 50/30/20 split.

If zero-based budgeting suits your lifestyle, give it a go and see whether you become a smarter spender and saver. The best bit? Once you’ve factored in every expense, you can really enjoy those dinner dates and shopping sprees guilt-free!


When you’ve figured out how much to spend each week using the zero-based approach, you could deposit the leftovers into a USave savings account. Get started today!

Plus, keep track of your money goals with our in-app tool Free2Spend*. Find out more here.


Before making a decision to acquire USave, you should obtain and consider the Terms and Conditions available at USave is issued by UBank, a division of National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL 230686.

*iOS 10+ only. Works with your USave and USpend. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S. and other countries and is used under license.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It doesn’t take account of any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice.