When entering college, it is useful to create a realistic budget for yourself. How you spend your money is your choice and a good budget will allow you to stay on top of things financially while still enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Planning ahead will prevent hardships down the road.
Planning ahead and budgeting for your school year will help you to:
- Identifying your income and expenses.
- Meet regular expenses and payments.
- Make decisions about what you can afford and when.
- Minimize financial stress.
- Design a budget that fits your lifestyle but also determine how to adjust your lifestyle to fit your budget.
- Distinguish between needs and wants.
- Increase your control over your money.
When making a budget, consider the following:
- If this is your first time creating a budget, consider talking to the Financial Aid and Awards Officer who can assist you with the planning.
- Set your goals and identify your priorities. Aim to finish the school year successfully while enjoying all the excitement that surrounds college life.
- Consider months or special occasions that will cost you more. Examples: holidays, birthdays, phone calls home, moving, etc.
- Keep in mind that there may be unplanned expenses throughout the school year such as prescription costs, car repairs or home repairs. Leave room for some adjustments in your budget.
- Note that heating costs will be much higher during the winter months than the summer months. If you pay the heating bill, plan for a higher bill for approximately 6 months of the year.
- How can you save money each month? Think about helpful tips such as using coupons, buying things on sale, buying groceries in bulk, making lunches versus buying lunch and using recreation facilities or attending events that are free of charge.
Step 1 Review and track your expenses. Be accurate and realistic about your spending.
Step 2 Review your financial resources and income.
Step 3 Explore all possible sources of income.
Step 4 Monitor your expenses using a weekly or monthly review of any expenses you’ve incurred or purchases you’ve made.
Step 5 Be realistic and flexible. You may have to make adjustments to your budget along the way as your income and expenses start to vary.
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