Author Topic: zero balance budget  (Read 2312 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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zero balance budget
« on: March 19, 2017, 02:45:06 PM »

New to MMM. Have followed Dave Ramsey principals - have very little debt, max 401k, money in savings etc...

Long story short, Hubby and I have been tracking our budget in a self-made zero balance budget spreadsheet for years. We would really like to use a program that would prevent us from having to look through every transaction and manually add them up to feed into our categories. We travel for work so we have a LOT of categories and its become too much for us. I added all my info to mint and ynab, but neither meet our needs. We are looking for something that will automatically upload our accounts and categorize them, but my biggest issue is that I cant build in my cushions to them. I would like to show my emergency fund totals in each account and i cant seem to do that in any program. ( lump sum addition in addition to the set a reoccurring monthly amount. ynab was too bulky in importing data and hubby doesnt like that its so manual. Mint wont let me add any bulk numbers and doesnt understand zero base budgets. I would love suggestions. Im at a loss for ways to word what I am looking for to try and find a worthy program myself.


La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Walrus Stache
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 02:49:21 PM »
Have you tried the newer subscription-based YNAB? It imports data much more readily, no more fussing around with files. I often choose to enter my receipts manually, but you can also wait a few days and import them directly from your credit cards just like you would with Mint. If you shop often at the same place, it will "remember" its category.


  • Stubble
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 04:28:35 PM »
I use the subscription-based YNAB and use categories for emergency funds. You assign some of your available cash to that category, and it sits there until you spend it. I can't speak to the import function because I enter everything manually; it helps me make sure I'm not overspending my budget.

Dave Ramsey also has a program. I think it's called EveryDollar or something like that?


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 04:59:48 PM »
I added all my info to mint and ynab, but neither meet our needs.
Quicken might. 

The usual take is that Quicken is
- better than mint
- more expensive than mint
- not perfect.

You might read some reviews of "Quicken vs. Mint" to see if it might be worth a try for you.


  • Bristles
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 09:03:57 AM »
I've been through the Dave Ramsey classes, and used it before finding MMM.

Our budgets used to have TONS of categories...and it was annoying.

Could you condense now that your habits are under control?  I like to take each paycheck, remove all the bill money, savings, and other "big category" funds by making those payments/transfers as soon as the money hits the account, and then simply track my spending from the rest.  Now that our spending is pretty much "stable", we already know approximate amounts needed for weekly groceries, fun budgets, dining if applicable, and gas.  I keep a set amount as a buffer that doesn't even factor in to the budget (couple hundred) and simply tell ourselves that x amount that is left is all we can spend (above the buffer).  Our spending is already low...we have made a habit of lowering it, so now we seldom spend all of the money set aside...and the extra goes into other goals or budgeted expenditures.

For instance, I can estimate that even a spendy grocery week will be no more than 100.00.  I know that at some point in the next two weeks I will need a tank of gas (25.00).  We like eating out, so we leave 50.00 in the account for small coffees or cones, or for one larger night out, depending on the preference.  I keep a misc/pet fund of 100.00 in there, so it all comes to a few hundred that stays there, not counting the "buffer" that we let ourselves forget we have (this is because I don't like to run the account to zero). 

All other spending (insurance, giving, bills, savings, debt payments) all get paid/checks written as soon as the paychecks hit, I stick those in the registry, and suddenly I know what we have to spend on the "other" in our life. 

Its not perfect or pretty or highly trackable.....but its easy and fits our lifestyle well. 


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 12:07:02 PM »
another vote for YNAB subscription based.  I have classic, but I don't want to pay the subscription fee for the SaaS model.  But I think it'll do what you need it to do!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: zero balance budget
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 04:10:10 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone. I went back and am filling in the holes to YNAB right now to see if I can get it to work. I am still having issues with the import function, but am trying to work with the YNAB people to get working correctly.

I need a lot of categories b/c we travel for work so I have expenses at my primary residence and on the road, some of which I write off. Its easier to break it down to the Nth degree now instead of doing it next Feb all at once.