Budgeting and Money Management


The first step to wise borrowing, is creating a budget to determine if you truly need to borrow and if so, how much you need to borrow.

Creating a budget is an ever evolving activity and may require some time to feel comfortable doing. The important part is understanding where your money comes from and where it goes.

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when you are preparing to create your budget:

  • Know why it’s important to create a budget. It has to be important to you for you to stick with it.
  • Use available software or online tools to help you. Find the budgeting system that works best for you because then you will be more likely to continue with budgeting.
  • Be realistic about your spending habits and don’t plan on financial windfalls. Track and account for all expenditures even the dollar items. Everyone dreams about winning the lottery but don’t count on it in your budget until the lottery winnings are really in your bank account.
  • Be aware of little expenses. A small purchase may not seem significant individually but over time, the small purchases could be the ones that break your budget.

Creating Your Budget

  1. Create an estimated budget
    1. List where you think your money comes from.
    2. List where you think your money goes.
    3. This allows you to create a budget based off of how you perceive you spend your money.
  2. Track all expenditures
    1. Keep track of all of your spending from rent, food, dining out, grabbing a soda etc.
    2. Keep track of spending via cash, debit card or credit card.
    3. This will allow you to see where your money is actually being spent.
  3. Compare
    1. Compare your estimated budget to your actual expenditures.
    2. Through this comparison you will realize where you are spending your money and possible cut backs to save.
  4. Create an expected budget
    1. Using the information from your comparison you can create an expected budget.
    2. Remember to include one-time only expenses for the month like birthdays, holidays or insurance payments etc.
    3. You can use your budget to keep your spending on track.
  5. Track, monitor, adjust, repeat
    1. Continue to track your spending and adjust your budget next month accordingly.
    2. Repeat

Budgeting Resources

ISU Office of Student Financial Aid Expenses Estimator

The Expenses Estimator is developed by the Office of Student Financial Aid and allows a student to enter information specific to their major field, living situation and financial aid utilization. The estimator will provide the student with an estimated university bill as well an expected outstanding or credit balance.

Student Loan Education Office Budget Creator.

The Budget Creator is one option to help create your initial budget. The Budget Creator helps you account for financial aid, tuition, fees and other expenses like athletic tickets, cell phone and other discretionary items.

Other online budgeting resources

The following are other online budgeting resources not created by any department at Iowa State University that you may find useful