Carefully crafting a budget can help you live in the present and prepare for the future. What are your goals and what will it take to achieve those goals?
When you are creating a budget, you need to know your current spending habits. This can be a hard reality to face. Start by simply tracking all of your expenditures using past bank and credit card statements. Before you can truly adjust, you need to know where your money is going.
Try the student budget template as a place to start. Use the annual tab to plan costs for the year and then track your weekly and monthly expenses on pages provided to see if you are over or under budget (simply copy the page multiple times and formulas will duplicate as well.)
If you do not have good records, start now to track every cent you spend for 30 days. Now categorize those expenditures:
- utilities (electricity, water, gas, internet, television, telephone)
- groceries (not dining out)
- auto expenses (fuel, taxes, service, insurance)
- personal (haircut, clothing, laundry, gym)
- medical (insurance, doctor, medicine)
- entertainment (games, movies, sports)
Create a list of all resources, such as financial aid (using net figures), savings, contributions from family, or other resources. Remember that in some cases, your cost of attendance budget is only for 8 or 9 months, not a full 12. How will you handle the time between terms?
Now, review your list of expenses and separate by needs versus wants:
- What could you do without while you are in school?
- Where could you make changes?
- Can you live in a less expensive apartment?
- Can you find a roommate to share your space?
- How can you reduce your utilities?
- Do you really need cable television, or can you make do with just the internet, which is needed for school?
- Can you make more meals at home and cut out fast food?
You can live on a limited budget now and reduce your indebtedness for the future.