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Money Management for Students

To make your money meet your expenses, the first thing you need to do is create a budget. If your income, including financial aid, doesn't equal or exceed your projected expenses, you will need to either increase your income (work or borrow more) or decrease your expenses.

Use this worksheet to estimate your income and expenses. Your actual line items might vary. Be honest about your needs and wants, but realize that you can't have it all.

My Budget Worksheet

      Income (for the academic year):

      Financial Aid

      ________ Loans
      ________ Grants and scholarships
      ________ Fellowship or stipend

      Other Income

      ________ Savings at beginning of school year
      ________ Money from family
      ________ Work income during school year
      ________ Other
      ________ Other
      ________ Total Income

      Expenses (Fall/Spring)

      ________ Tuition and fees
      ________ Books and supplies


      ________ CMU Room and Board
      ________ Apartment rent
      ________ Groceries
      ________ Apartment utilities (including deposits)
      ________ Apartment deposit
      ________ Apartment supplies (cleaning, tools, furniture, dishes, cookware)
      ________ Local transportation (car, bus)
      ________ Clothes, grooming, laundry
      ________ Cell phone
      ________ Take out and restaurant food and beverage
      ________ Entertainment (movies, DVDs, parties)
      ________ Other
      ________ Other
      ________ Other
      ________ Total expenses

      ________ Enter your total income(from above)
      ________ Enter your total expenses (from above)
      ________ Subtract to get your bottom line

      Are you living within your budget?

      • If your bottom line is positive, you're in good shape.
      • If your bottom line is negative, consider the tips below to balance your budget.

      Money Management Tips

      Financial aid is intended to cover a very modest student lifestyle, including only the basics: tuition and fees, room and board (double room, basic meal plan), books, and a small amount for personal expenses such as clothing, laundry, haircuts, etc. Financial aid is NOT intended to pay for a car, cell phone, spring break trip, iPod, or cigarettes.

      If you are taking out student loans to cover "extras" do you really want to be paying interest years after graduation for things you could do without for now? Your time at CMU is a terrific chance to meet and mingle with people of many interests and cultures. Think of this as a free source of entertainment and enrichment

      If you don't need the entire loan you are offered, just reduce your loan on Central Link under "Financial Aid Portal"

      Is that luxury apartment really a good deal? Do the math. If you live on campus, your "rent" includes all the food you need (even prepared for you with no dishes to do!), your bed linens, high-speed internet, and you can walk to your classes. In an apartment, in addition to your rent, you will have to find your roommate(s), purchase and cook your own food, get yourself to class, come up with a rent deposit, pay for utilities, and possibly buy furniture.

      If you don't have the cash for a purchase, you probably can't afford it. However, if you have a reasonable budget for personal expenditures and can pay off your credit card in full each month, you will be building good credit for your future.

      Do you really want to pay $2.25 for a $1.50 taco? These little fees add up fast.

      Know what you can afford to spend for goodies each month and make a monthly withdrawal. Divide that into weekly envelopes to help you stay within your budget.

      A check-in hand is easily spent. Have your earnings and financial aid deposited into your savings or checking account, and take it out only when you need it.

      Working 15 hours a week could earn you $100/week or more. In addition to providing that income, your job could help you budget your time, increase your contacts, and build your skills and resume for your future career.