Blog Using a Zero Balance Budget + A Free Download

Using a Zero Balance Budget + A Free Download

Do you make a budget for your monthly spending? Or does that thought suddenly remind you that you need to go clean the kitchen grout?

Photo by Waag Society
Photo by Waag Society

While it’s definitely not fun, planning where and how you’ll spend your money is probably the most fundamental element of being disciplined with your spending (and adding a little self-discipline to our lives is what we’re all about here!). So what’s the best way to make a budget? Mathematically speaking, a zero balance budget will make sure that you have a plan for every dollar you earn.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Start with your monthly take-home pay at the top of a page.
  2. Write down every expense you’ll have that month. First, the necessities: rent, utilities, groceries, debts, etc. Then move on to the extras: savings, new clothes, eating out, Starbucks…
  3. Plan every dollar until you have $0 left.

For only a three step process, it’s kind of crazy that budgeting gets so much resistance, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because people don’t like doing math on paper – it’s feels so 3rd grade, right? But I’m the same way, that’s why I made this downloadable budget spreadsheet to do the work for me.

A few things to note:

  1. Cell names are totally customizable – I tried to be thorough but realize it’s not all-encompassing.
  2. If you don’t have access to Microsoft Excel, I’ve uploaded the spreadsheet to Google Docs, so you can access it by signing into a Gmail account.
  3. If you accidentally delete a function, feel free to come on back and re-download.

Here’s the important part:

Once you’ve filled out the spreadsheet, give your keyboard the ‘ol “Ctrl + P” to send that bad boy to the printer and make yourself a hard copy!

It’ll be tangible. Real. You’ll literally have to throw your budget away if you don’t want to reference it the rest of the month! The goal is to have a plan for your money, so when some sort of temptation or “great deal” crosses your path, you can honestly tell the salesman, “Sorry, my budget’s already set for the month” and walk away.

Try it for a month. See what you think.

We’ll discuss further benefits of having a budget at another time, so until then…

Do you have budgeting questions or tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.


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