Budgeting

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Creating a College Spending Plan
(2 minutes 11 seconds)

Step 1: Start by reviewing your past spending habits.
If you have a checking account, use your check register to analyze your income and expenses for the past couple of weeks. Otherwise, you can start by keeping track of everything you spend your money on over the next several weeks. This will allow you to see what you spend the most money on and determine whether it is a need or a want.

Step 2: Collect all sources of income.
Create a list of all the income you receive each month. This may include financial aid, money from family, anticipated job income, work study income, child support payments, food stamps and any other sources of money you receive.

Step 3: Collect all expense information.
Gather all expenses: receipts, bills and credit card statements. Using the list you created of your expenses you may notice some unnecessary spending in areas you can cut back on. You should use the net price calculator to assist you in creating a better list of expenses. It may be a good idea to add savings as a "bill" to ensure you are paying yourself first and setting money aside. If you have accepted any loans it would be very beneficial to make it a habit to pay on the principal or interest while you are in school. Even a small amount can make a big difference

Step 4: Form a budget using the information you collected.
There are a wide variety of budgeting tools to assist you:

On the Web and Apps
There are a number of websites and apps to help you manage your budget.
www.getmoneysmarts.org
www.mint.com (also available as an app)

Excel Budgets
Excel has a ton or budget templates - just open Excel and type "budget" in the search box!

Paper and Pencil Budgets
You can easily write down each form of income and expense and calculate a budget. Here's a form you can you can print to use each month.