Examine Your Budget and Develop A Plan

Managing money can be especially difficult for students on a tight budget, so the Financial Aid Office has put together a few ideas to help make it easier. On this page you'll find a Quarterly Budget Worksheet and Tips for Stretching Your Dollars. If it seems like you spend more time worrying about money than you do studying, take time out to examine your budget and develop a plan that works for you.

To help you with budgeting and financial advice, MCC has partnered with the online web site Cash Course. This online resource provides very user-friendly tools to help you make good choices about your money.

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"Budgeting 101"

Entering college is the perfect time to develop healthy financial habits, and it all starts with creating and adhering to a budget.

Develop your own personal budget to avoid the stress and inconvenience brought on by money problems. Use the Budget Worksheet included on this Web Page to plan your spending ahead of time.

  • Say "NO" to credit cards. Not only do you pay a finance charge, but you may be tempted to buy more than you can really afford. If you feel you must have a credit card, don't purchase more than you can afford, and pay the balance each month. Better yet, save it for emergencies!
  • Open a savings account and make regular deposits. When choosing a bank, compare monthly service charges and ask about any additional costs, such as buying checks, costs for overdrafts, and stop-payment orders.
  • Avoid the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fast-money trap. Try to limit the number of visits to the ATM. Some banks charge a service fee for each transaction, which can add up quickly. If you use the ATM, withdraw small amounts and don't forget to record the transactions in your checkbook.
  • Balance your checkbook each month, your bank statement provides step-by-step instructions. If you need help, ask for customer assistance at your bank.
  • Bicycling and walking are the cheapest means of transportation.
  • Avoid the expensive habit of driving a car. The combination of high gasoline and oil costs, insurance, and maintenance can make a car a major financial burden.
  • Use the Quarterly Budget Worksheet to plan a budget. When budgeting for a quarter, be sure to allow for costs that occur monthly.
  • After you've balanced your budget, begin keeping a detailed record of what you spend. Expenses for one quarter should show whether or not you are following your plan.
Download the Quarterly Budget Worksheet
PDF format
Excel format

List your expected expenses. Consult your checkbook record for amounts you spend for fixed expenses (registration fees, rent, utilities) and flexible expenses (books/supplies, food, personal).
FIXED EXPENSES Summer Fall Winter Spring
Utilities (Gas, Electric, Telephone)        
Sub-Total FIXED EXPENSES $ $ $ $
FLEXIBLE EXPENSES Summer Fall Winter Spring
TOTAL ALL EXPENSES (Fixed + Flexible) $ $ $ $
List your expected income (include financial aid, earnings, savings, VA benefits, and gifts).
INCOME Summer Fall Winter Spring
Financial Aid        
Savings (for education)        
Other (Social Security, VA, etc.)        
(Minus) TOTAL EXPENSES $ $ $ $
BALANCE $ $ $ $
Subtract your total expenses from your total income. If your income exceeds your expenses, you have a budget plan to follow. If not, you may need to reduce your expenses.

Smart Borrowing

Prior to accepting student loans, it’s important to understand the benefits and the consequences of assuming student loan debt, as well as, understand your responsibilities as the borrower.