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Spend Reasonably, Save Responsibly and Enjoy Peace of Mind About Your Finances

Step 1) Start your budget by reviewing your past spending.

       Over the course of the next several weeks track every penny you spend in a notebook, excel spreadsheet, notepad in your phone or whatever works best for you. Just be sure to account for every penny you spend. You will not only see where your money is going but you can decide whether all your purchases were wise or necessary.  Here are some average monthly living expenses according to the US Department of Labor:

Average Monthly Living Expenses from the US Department of Labor

Step 2) Collect all sources of income.

       List financial assistance paid directly to you each month, family help, anticipated job income, work study income, child support payments, food stamps, and any other source of money you receive.

Step 3) Collect all expense information.

       As you write down our expenses you will probably start to see areas of unnecessary spending and opportunities to cut back.  Your Estimated Cost of Attendance at UM is part of the expenses you will want to track.  It is a great practice to consider adding to your savings account as a "bill"; even if you can only set aside $25 a month it's a great habit to start!  You can even do the same thing with your student loans.  Paying even a small amount each month toward the principle or interest on your loans can go a long way!  For more information, go to the "While You're In College" tab on the Student Loans page.

Step 4) Form a budget using the information you collected.

       There are many budgeting tools available to you!  From electronic to paper and pencil to apps, there are many types of budgets available.  Click on the next tab to see the types of budgeting systems avalible to you! 

Online Budget Managers:

There is a free electronic budgeting tool at that allows you to do either a monthly budget or semester budget.  At this site you can enter each of your transactions and categorize them into the category you choose.  The site will then form a budget for you based upon what you entered and displays your excess (or shortcoming).

There are also other online budgeting tools that can link to your bank account and place transactions into your budgeting categories for you such as  This can be helpful for individuals who have little time to work on their budget.  These systems can structure your budget for you as well as display your expected excess or shortcoming for the month.  

Budgets on Excel:

Excel budgets can give you control over how your budget is constructed and the outputs it gives while still doing the arithmetic for you:

Here is a monthly Excel budget for the entire year.  The first column lists the budgeting categories, the third column is were you enter how much money you want to devote to it's category.  By changing the zero below the month we are in into a one, you activate the month we are in and should begin entering your expenses below.  The second column holds a running balance for the remaining money in a category.    

Here is a monthly budget in Excel spanning a semester.  This spreadsheet allows you to enter Financail Aid and Edcuational costs on a semester basis as well as monthly enteries for Income, Expenditures and any loan payments you may already have.  

Paper and Pencil Budget:

Here is a PDF of a paper budget form.   Come by the Financial Education Program front desk in GrizCentral for assistance in filling out the information for your budget.