Your Spending Plan
To live more comfortably, do the things you enjoy, and still be able to eat well, develop a spending plan for the school year.
- Attitude—Be positive about the benefits of your spending plan and set realistic goals that reflect your needs. If budgeting is a sacrifice for you, how likely are you to stick with it?
- Simplicity—Keep it simple so you can go back and adjust your goals as your financial life changes.
- Customization—Budgets are not “one-size fits all.” Look at how typical budgets are set up; then build a plan with categories that fit your life.
So, where do you start?
- Begin by tracking your spending for two weeks. Download Tracking My Spending, a handy worksheet to record your purchases, no matter how small. If you feel that you didn't keep good track, keep going and redo the exercise later.
- Next, complete a Semester Spending Plan that projects your expenses for the four-month semester ahead.
- Compare your total semester expenses to your income (employment, savings, support). Use net income, the amount directly from your pay stubs, after deductions. When you calculate your financial aid, divide your credit balance (the amount remaining after tuition, fees and other campus charges are paid) amount by four months to come up with a monthly figure for the semester.
- Monitor your spending. Payoff any high-interest credit card debt and don't charge more than you can pay in full each month. If your spending gets out of line, cut your expenses.
- Reward yourself! Pay your bills on time and then, reward your good behavior with some fun activities and a few personal luxuries that you can afford.