Preparing a budget

Research tuition, book, supply, and other direct costs from college and university financial aid handbooks and calendars for the program you are interested in. Make a note of how many years it will take you to achieve the education you need for your career choice.

Identify and record indirect costs and complete the rest of the income and costs portions of the budget worksheets. As you are completing the budget worksheets, keep in mind that most costs reflect lifestyle choices that impact on the budget while at college or university, including:

  • Living arrangements
  • Travelling to and from college or university
  • Childcare arrangements, pets, etc.
  • Support from family, friends, etc.
  • Innovative ideas around food and cooking
  • Shopping habits

Consider the decision-making process around each choice and the consequences for each choice. Evaluate the alternatives. Consult newspapers for examples of the cost of rent, food, entertainment, etc. If you expect to have to move to another community, find out what the local costs are through newspapers at your local library. Anytime you have to guess at costs, estimate on the high side.

  • Select the best alternative for you
  • Strive to balance work and family
  • Determine whether or not you can live with this decision

Look for budget costs that can be reduced, for example, buying clothes used instead of new. Once you have completed the budget worksheets you will be able to come up with a figure of how much money will be needed over and above savings, awards, part time work, etc. Is the completed budget realistic? How can you modify it to bring costs down? Does your career choice still make sense, considering how long it will take you to earn the right credentials, and how much debt you may have to take on?

Budget worksheet:
PDF version (you must have Acrobat Reader to download)     Get Acrobat Reader

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