Voilà! Here is my zero based budget for the month of May! Before you scroll down, let me tell you how wonderful this budgeting system has been for me. I learned about it from Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover book, and it has changed my life.
Before I started creating a zero-based budget, I saved exactly ZERO dollars each month. Although I religiously kept track of my expenditures, I wasn't 'telling' my money where to go---and accordingly, it just went! Here's the difference in savings between January (no budget) and May (projected) as far as the amount of money being diverted into savings:
January: $0 to savings
February: $181 to savings
March: $213 to savings
April: $263 to savings
May (projected): $901 to savings
Now, keep in mind that in May I'm receiving my tax rebate, 100% of which is going into my emergency fund---that's why my savings rate will (hopefully) be so high this month. But to go from $0 saved in January to $263 for April is phenomenal, and I couldn't have done it without the zero-based budget system (this is a system where you give each dollar a 'home' before payday, resulting with a remainder of $0---every dollar is told where to go before you have a chance to fritter it away).
Also, keep in mind that my income didn't increase substantially in February, March or April. In fact, in March, it was lower than usual, because I went on vacation and didn't work my second job for a whole week.
Another thing that's unusual about this particular budget is that I'm receiving three checks in the month of May, from my second job---that's just the way the calendar worked out, and I'm ecstatic about it! With an extra check from the night job and the tax rebate check, I am able to both pay down my credit card, AND pad my emergency fund, instead of choosing one or the other. June won't be quite as terrific in terms of income, so I'm just going to enjoy it for now!