University of Minnesota Duluth block M and wordmark

Budget - 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.” Try different templates or approaches until you find one that works for you.

Budgets

So, where do you start?

  1. Begin by tracking your spending for two weeks. Download the Track My Discretionary Spending worksheet to record your purchases for two weeks. Record anything you spend money on, even a soda at the vending machine.
  2. Look at the semester ahead. Complete a Semester Spending Plan that projects your expenses for the semester, allowing you to foresee how to manage your money or financial aid dollars. Use the Cost of Attendance budget to get educational and other figures.
  3. Compare your total semester expenses to your income (employment, savings, support). Use net income (the amount directly from your pay stubs after deductions). Your income could equal your expenses ($0 left over) but you never want expenses to be greater than income.
  4. Monitor your spending. Check in. Sometimes we head in the wrong direction with spending and need to reevaluate our choices.
  5. Reward yourself! Pay your bills on time and reward your good behavior with something fun. Even if you’re working toward a goal (paying down debt or saving) think about building in rewards to keep the momentum going.

 

Budget: a way to do the things you want, guilt-free."