you have some practice with budgeting, start trying to project
your expenses for a full year. You may not think of everything
at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Think
about bills you only pay once in a while, such as car insurance
and tuition. If you remember these in advance, you can plan
Here's one way to get started tracking your expenses and
budgeting your income. Try filling out the charts below. Plug
in your income and sources. Also, plug in your expense categories
and estimate their costs. Some common sources of income and
expenses are suggested, but feel free to adjust the categories,
figures, and expenditures. These charts were designed for
a college student. If you're in high school, they can give
you an idea of what to expect in college. You can also use
them, leaving blank the categories that don't apply to you.
With a budget, you first see how much money you have (or
will have, based on income from jobs, financial aid, and/or
scholarships). List everything in these charts, and if a category
doesn't apply to your situation, change it or go on to the
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Parents or relatives
Financial aid (loans)
Grants and Scholarships
Money from other sources (savings, gifts,
Next, think about how much money you'll need to pay bills
and provide for yourself. These are your expenses. Again,
be sure to list everything you can think of.
Cost per Term
Room and board
Transportation (car expenses, parking, bus
or air fare)
Insurance (car, health)
Cellphone, Internet access
Now see what your income is versus your expenses. Subtract
your total term expenses from your total term income. Then
do the same thing with your annual totals. If the expenses
are larger than the income, you'll need to figure out how
to turn things around.
Turning it Around
There are two ways to change those expense to income ratios:
cut expenses and/or increase your income.
Here are a few suggestions to help you curb your spending
and increase your income:
Look at your spending habits. Is there any way you can
reduce your expenditures? Maybe you can keep soda in a dorm
fridge instead of buying it from a vending machine at $1
a can. Better yet, try drinking water instead of sodait's
cheaper and healthier.
Do you have things you no longer need that you could sell?
College bulletin boards are great places to advertise an
old bike, textbook, or furniture you want to unload. These
things have the potential to put extra cash in your pocket.
Do you really need to keep a car on campus? College parking
fees can be hefty and the parking tickets even more so.
You might get more financial mileage from walking or cycling.
Investigate other grants or scholarships, even if you've
already started school. Meet with a financial aid officer
at your school to check out all your options.
If you haven't found a part-time job yet, keep looking.
Check with the financial aid or career services office to
see if any on-campus jobs become available. Some colleges
pay students for editing the school newspaper, serving as
tour guides, or working as resident assistants in the dorms.
Buy used textbooks. Most college bookstores sell used
textbooks at a discount. Or surf the Internet for deals
at online auction houses and bookstores.
Think of some ideas of your own and make a list for yourself.
Budgeting seems pretty simple, right? The reality is that
few people ever budget. We've all been in the situation where
we run out of money before our next paycheck comes. Then,
we're in a pinch. Making a budget and sticking to it are the
first steps to achieving any financial goal.