Creating a budget doesn’t have to be hard or make you feel like you can’t spend any money. Think of it as a spending plan – you’re simply telling your money where to go. Learning to use a budget will help you manage your money for the rest of your life. Use this fillable budget worksheet or our Planning for Financial Success budgeting workbook and the following tips to get started.

  • Know how much money you have coming in. Include your paychecks (after taxes), financial aid, family support and any other sources of income.
  • Know how much money you have going out. List out all of your expenses; include regular bills and irregular expenses. Account for tuition and fees, living expenses, insurance, books, transportation costs, savings, and personal/discretionary expenses.
  • Subtract your expenses from your income to come up with a budget that works for you. If your income does not cover your expenses, you’ll have to adjust your spending by deciding which expenses can be reduced and/or how to earn more money. Try to make your budget equal zero by allocating for every dollar earned. That does not mean you’re spending every dollar, it just means you have a place for every dollar – preferably with some going straight to a savings account.
  • Be realistic, keep it simple, and give it time. Your budget won’t be perfect, but will get better with time. You can make yearly, monthly, and even weekly budgets. Use these as a guideline and make adjustments when necessary.