Create your own budget using these simple steps to ensure your money goes toward your needs first, and then your wants.


Know how much money you have coming in. Determine your available income – the amount of your take-home (net) pay. Include wages, help from your family, financial aid and other earnings.


Know how much money you have going out. Include tuition, living expenses, books, fees, transportation costs, insurance and personal or discretionary expenses. Don’t forget to build in a way to grow your savings. Saving – even a little at a time – can really add up over the years.


Establish a budget that works for you. Think of your budget as a spending plan, a way to be aware of how much money you have, where it needs to go, and how much is left over. If your income does not cover your expenses, you will need to adjust your budget (and your spending) by deciding which expenses can be reduced and/or how income can be increased.


Be realistic. Keep it simple. Give it time. Do not cut basic necessities or make your budget so restrictive that it becomes a chore instead of a useful tool. You may need to make adjustments the first few months, but you will get the hang of it. Your budget will prove itself over the long term if you re-evaluate as your income increases and circumstances change. 


If you need help with establishing a budget, start with our budget worksheet (for best results, open in Adobe Reader).