Budgeting & Money Management for Students
What is Budgeting?
Budgeting is important for your financial stability, ensuring you can pay common expenses like rent, tuition, student loans, credit card bills, and entertainment. But what exactly is budgeting? It's a proactive approach to organizing your finances. Budgeting ensures you're not spending more than you're making, allowing you to plan for short- and long-term expenses. It's an easy, helpful way for people with all types of income and expenses to keep their finances in order. You simply want to be able to track your income left over after all expenses to ensure you're not falling into debt.
If your income minus expenses is:
You're earning more than you're spending, which is where you want your finances to be. You can afford your expenses and maintain a good credit rating.
Set Financial Goals
Setting realistic financial goals gives you a head start to create your budget. It's important to have something to work toward financially, whether it's paying all of your bills on time every month or saving up for a vacation. But it's just as important to ensure you're working toward realistic goals you can actually meet so you don't end up disappointed by missing goals outside your capabilities. Think about what kinds of goals you want to set, both short- and long-term.
- Save enough money for next semester's books.
- Pay extra on your student loans or other debt payments each month.
- Pay off your student loans within the next five years.
- Save up for the down payment for a new car.
Specific: Smart goals are specific enough to suggest action. Specify why you're saving money, not just that you want to save.
WRITE IT DOWN
Once you've thought out your goals, write them down and hang them up. Having something you can see every day will make those goals a reality to you.
Once you get the hang of it, budgeting is easy. However, there are a lot of ways you can get derailed from your budget. Here are some additional tips to help keep you on track with your budgeting.
Be Honest with Yourself.
When you first start your budget, if you're not honest about the things you're already spending money on, it's going to be hard to set goals and properly track your expenses. Start with your current financial situation and make adjustments after you've assessed where you're at.
Steps for Getting Started
It's typically easiest to create a budget on a computer, either in a spreadsheet or using budgeting software. Spreadsheets allow you to easily calculate your budget in numerous ways (e.g., monthly or yearly totals). Once you've decided how you want to create your budget, you can get started.
Start with your income.
Track the amount of money you have coming in every month, from jobs, work study, scholarships, grants, student loans, or money given to you. When tracking income from your job, it's easiest to use the amount you take home after taxes. This is the pool of money you have available for your budget, so get it as accurate as possible.
Check Your Budget
See how you're doing with your current monthly spending, and whether or not you need to reevaluate it, by entering the appropriate amounts for the upcoming month in our budget checker.
Please fill out all fields with positive dollar amounts. The following fields need correction:
Tip: If you're in school, you likely only receive loans, grants, and scholarships once per semester, but it's a good idea to average that out per month so you have an idea of your monthly income allotment. If you need more income, check with your financial aid office to see if you qualify for Federal Work Study or look into a part-time job on or off campus. If you're out of school and repaying your loans, add up your paychecks for the month to get your job income for monthly expenses.
Job (after taxes, including seasonal jobs or work study)