Tell your money what to do with a personal budget

John Cook
11 min readFeb 4, 2019

Have you ever been in a situation where its the middle of the month and you take a peak into your bank account or wallet and thought to yourself “where the hell did my money go”? It used to happen to me, alot. It almost felt like there was more month than money! The crazy part is that I really didn’t know where my money was going, I had a general idea…like “yeah I have to pay rent, utilities, go out to dinner” and other stuff but I couldnt tell you with any level of confidence how many digital subscriptions I had, how much I spent in gas, or even how much I spent eating out each month. Does this sound like you?

My answer to this dilemma was to create a “zero-based budget” which is just a fancy way of creating a personal budget where you allocate every dollar to a category before the start of the month so you have “zero dollars” uncategorized once the month starts. The categories don’t really matter, you can have a vacation category, a fun money category, or even a pet category! What’s important is that by creating a budget where you allocate your money to a category before the start of the month, you are in effect telling your money what to do. In December 2018 I published my January 2019 under the article “How to create a personal budget if you make over $100k a year”. It was how I allocated my anticipated monthly income of ~$16,000 a month into a zero-based budget. Check it out below.

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