I posted a poll on my Instagram in May asking a couple of general budgeting questions to my IG audience. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I received:
As it turns out, the vast majority of you believe that you can be better at budgeting – myself absolutely included! I believe it’s always a good idea to be proactive, and to continue to learn as much about taking care of your earnings and savings as possible.
It’s no secret that running a website doesn’t provide the most steady source of income, especially for someone who is very new to it like I am! I’ve always believed I am a good saver, but this pandemic has shown me firsthand how unpredictable these, or any matters, can be. So, I sought out some simple budget advice to help me along.
I began following Cindy a little while ago and have become utterly inspired. Budgeting can be a tough and sensitive topic, so you want to make sure you’re being advised by the right people. Cindy offers workshops, presentations, and personal coaching, but she also greatly inspires others through social media. I think she’s very selfless for sharing such informative and helpful advice every day for free, though this just scratches the surface of her amazing work.
Cindy is great at what she does and explains things very well; I learn something new almost every single day. I am also in awe of her budgeting journey, as she brought herself out of massive debt from law school in just four years. Her inspiring work has been featured in Forbes, Good Morning America, Business Insider and more!
I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Cindy and ask her a few questions regarding budgeting.
Sam: Tell me about yourself!
Cindy: I’m Cindy Zuniga, the Founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLC. I am also a full-time attorney and practice commercial litigation. I was born, raised in, and live in the Bronx, New York.
Sam: How did Zero-Based Budget start? What inspired you to become a budget coach?
Cindy: I graduated law school in 2015 with $215,000 of debt, most of which was from law school. I found myself frustrated and confused over loan repayment and money generally. After educating myself on personal finance (thanks to books and the Internet!), I created @zerobasedbudget in 2018 to document my debt payoff journey and to simplify personal finance concepts that I was learning along the way. A few months into starting ZBB, family and friends started approaching me to review their budgets and to help them on their own money journeys. I then officially launched my business in early 2019.
Sam: What is the biggest mistake you come across when it comes to budgeting? Does age play a part?
Cindy: The biggest mistake with respect to budgeting is failing to track your expenses. For most people creating a budget is not the issue – sticking to the budget is. It’s critical that you track what you’re actually spending in order to stick to your budget.
I don’t think that age plays a role. I have clients that are fresh out of college and eager to manage their money and do so successfully though a budget. I also know people that are significantly older and are completely turned off by the idea of a budget. This is why I like teaching my clients that their budget is their “money plan”. It’s an intentional plan that will help them pay off debt, save, and invest for their future goals.
Sam: What’s the biggest piece of budget advice you can offer to millennials today?
Cindy: Regardless of your income, start budgeting today. Most people don’t have a clear understanding of how much they earn or spend in a given month. Knowing your numbers is absolutely critical to becoming financially free.
Sam: How do you strive to positively inspire your audience?
Cindy: I was born and raised in a low income household. My parents are immigrants that strived to provide my sisters and me with our basic needs, so conversations about money were not common. But thanks to books and the Internet, I have learned about wealth building and have coached dozens of clients – of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels – on money management. Although you may not be able to change your financial situation overnight, change and progress is certainly possible and I offer my story and the stories of my clients to illustrate this.
I highly recommend tagging along on Cindy’s journey and following her Instagram, or working with her one-on-one to learn more about properly budgeting your earnings and savings. She is not only a wonderful source for budget advice, but she is also and a very kind and smart woman. I wish her nothing but the best moving forward!