Last week I finally sat down to make a budget, and I’ll admit it took me a lot longer than it should have. I think my biggest problem was that I couldn’t properly visualize how to keep track of my money. At first I looked for templates online, but found that most are based around a monthly income, which for the time being, I do not have. So I decided to make my own:
I found that this works for me, but if you’ve got your own way to budget, go for it!
I first calculated how much money I and my parents set aside for my first year of uni based on my RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) along with scholarships I’ve been awarded and the money I’m expecting to receive from OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program).
I then made a list of my “fixed costs”. I consider tuition, residence, meal plan, and incidentals fixed costs because I know I will have to pay an exact amount. My particular university splits the costs of those differently first and second term, so I made the ‘August’ and ‘December’ columns for when I will/would have to pay those fees.
For textbooks, I budgeted a given amount for the whole year, seeing as I don’t yet know how many I’ll need or how much they’ll cost.
Once I deducted all this from my income, I divided the difference by the eight months I’ll spend studying. With the money allotted to each month, I started to assign reasonable amounts to each category, knowing I’ll be living with less than I currently do.
Since most of these amounts are estimates for now, I’ve left myself some leeway to adjust my budget in the first month of school. I also created a miscellaneous category as a “rainy day” plan, or buffer in case of emergencies.
On the right side of my spreadsheet I set up a very simple way to track my spending each month, with a function to calculate my total spending. Aside from this, I’ll probably keep a more detailed record of how much I spend within each category.
Looking at this now, I’m not sure why it took me so long to set up and format this spreadsheet, but I hope it helps it you feel as lost as I did!