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.
My budget worksheet
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. For additional MSU cost information, see our tuition and fees and housing pages, or use MSU's online cost calculator.
Income (Fall / Spring)
________ Grants and scholarships
________ Fellowship or stipend
________ Savings at beginning of school year
________ Money from family
________ Work income during school year
________ Total income
Expenses (Fall / Spring)
________ Tuition and fees
________ Books and supplies
________ MSU room and board
- or -
________ Apartment rent
________ Apartment utilities (including deposits)
________ Apartment deposit
________ Apartment supplies (cleaning, tools, furniture, dishes, cookware)
________ Local transportation (car, bus)
________ Clothes, grooming, laundry
________ Cell phone
________ Food and beverages (groceries, restaurants, take-out)
________ Entertainment (movies, DVDs, parties)
________ 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 following tips to balance your budget.
Money management tips
If you receive financial aid…
Financial aid is intended to support a very modest student lifestyle, including only the basics: tuition and fees, room and board, books, and a small amount for personal expenses such as clothing, laundry, haircuts, long distance charges, an occasional movie or dinner out, and so on. Financial aid is NOT intended to pay for your car, iPhone, cigarettes or spring break trip.
For each expenditure ask yourself: Do I really need this?
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 MSU 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.
Protect your future: Don't borrow more than you need.
If you don't need all of the loans you've been offered, you may decline or reduce them in StuInfo via the "Financial Aid (check your aid)" link.
Consider your living arrangement.
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 linen, 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. Add up all the costs associated with apartment living, compare to campus living, and see which is the better deal.
Be careful with credit cards!
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.
Don't use an ATM card for an individual purchase if a fee is involved.
Do you really want to pay $2.25 for a $1.50 taco? These little fees add up fast.
Give yourself an allowance.
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.
Direct deposit is your friend.
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.
If you're not working, why not?
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.
If you're having problems making ends meet, visit the Office of Financial Aid.
We're happy to help you work out a reasonable budget.