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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School Finances: Creating a Budget for College Living

Businesses, governments, sports teams, and college students all have one thing in common. They need to develop and manage budgets to be successful financially.

In college, money will be tight. Make the most of what money you do have by creating a spending plan.

Spending plans don't have to be complicated or take much time to develop. Here's some tips on how to get started.

1) Identify your income. List the income you have coming in each month. Job earnings, gifts, financial aid, etc. DFI's Right on the Money booklet has a great income chart that you can use on page 22. 

Here's a link to the PDF version of the booklet  

2) Track your expenses for one month. Save receipts or write down in a notebook where your money is going. DFI's Right on the Money booklet has an expense chart on page 24.

3) Separate your flexible expenses from your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are expenses that are the same each month. Such as rent (if applicable), car insurance, cell phone, etc.

3) Compare your income and expenses. Subtract your expenses from your income. Can you cut back anywhere on your expenses?

4) Develop a spending plan.  Now that you know how much you earn and spend each month. Take control of your spending habits. Create a spending plan for one month. There are many great resources online.

Jean Chatzky from the Today Show has developed a simple budget worksheet you can print out and use at 

Keep with It!
Budgets will be different for everyone and may even change from month to month. The important thing is to really get a grip on your money to make sure it is going where you need and want it to go.

  1. DFI's Right on the Money
  2. Basic Budget Worksheet
  3. Financial Planning Association Budget Worksheets