What Is Zero Based Budgeting?

What Is Zero Based Budgeting?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Zero-based budgeting is a method of budgeting where all expenses must be justified for each new period. This means starting from a zero base, with every function within an organization analyzed for its needs and costs. Zero-based budgeting allows for a more disciplined approach to the process of budgeting, as it requires every dollar to be justified, rather than only increases. As such, zero-based budgeting aims to better control costs and improve resource allocation.

Related Questions

1. What are the key benefits of zero-based budgeting?

Zero-based budgeting retains several advantages for businesses. It offers a more accountable and responsive method of budgeting, allowing businesses to closely align their spending with their objectives. It promotes efficiency by trimming excess and unnecessary costs, and it provides a comprehensive view of the entire company’s financial situation.

2. What are the challenges of implementing zero-based budgeting?

Want More Financial Tips?

Get Our Best Stuff First (for FREE)
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Implementing zero-based budgeting can be time-consuming since it requires thorough review and justification for every expense. It could also lead to short-term thinking, as the focus could shift on meeting immediate budget goals at the expense of long-term strategic planning.

3. Is zero-based budgeting suitable for all types of businesses?

Zero-based budgeting can work well for all types of businesses, provided the organization is ready to devote the time and effort it requires. However, it might be best suited for industries where costs are variable rather than fixed, given the need to justify every expense on a regular basis.

4. How does zero-based budgeting differ from traditional budgeting?

Unlike traditional budgeting, where the previous year’s budget is taken as a base and adjustments are made based on new business objectives, zero-based budgeting resets everything to zero and requires every item to be justified as if it were new.

5. Can zero-based budgeting combine with other budgeting methods?

Yes, zero-based budgeting can be combined with other budgeting approaches for a hybrid model. For example, some businesses apply a zero-based approach to certain discretionary expense categories while using a traditional budgeting approach for fixed costs or vice versa.