How to Create a Budget

You’ve been accepted into college! Congratulations!

The next thing you’re probably thinking about is money: how do I pay for… college? student loans? student debt? life? Don’t be disheartened; it’s totally worth it. Take it from me, a poor college student.

Yes life and money can be stressful, but at the same time it can provide many learning experiences. Being on your own takes responsibility, especially when it comes to handling money. So, you might ask, how can I keep up with my money and stay on the ball when it comes to finances? The answer to that question is called a budget, which is pretty easy to create and takes a small amount of effort to maintain.

What’s a budget?

A budget allows you to see how much money you receive and how much money you spend over a given amount of time. It will allow you to see how much money you have to buy books and if you have enough left over to “Treat Yo Self!"

In more technical terms, a budget is a simple way to manage your money and spending. It will leave you with the knowledge of how much money you ACTUALLY have, so when something unexpected happens or you want to “treat yo self” you know exactly how much money you should (or shouldn’t) spend.

There are several ways to create and keep up with a budget. You can create a spreadsheet in Excel, make a table in Word, or use old checkbook registers. Note: The last two require you to do your own math.

If using Excel, open a standard worksheet and go to Column A. In Column A Row 1, type Budget in the blank space. You can make this title however big or colorful you choose. In Row 2, type Income in the blank space. To track your money month-by-month, use Columns B-M and add the names of the months. In Row 3, type Starting Amount, which is the amount of money you currently have. The money you have left over each month will roll over so put that amount per month in the Starting Amount row. In the next row, type in the source of money you will be receiving. For example, I have entered Allowance (per month). You can use as many rows as you want to add as many sources of money as you want/need. When you are finished creating rows, you can start inputting your amounts in the next column(s). To see the total amount of money you earn per month go back to Column A and after your last source of income, type in Total. There you can personally add up the total amount of money you made.... OR you can use a function that Excel has created. Let’s use the Excel function. In the column next to total, type in =Row of Starting Amount + next amount.

Create a blank row by skipping a row and type “Expenses” in the new blank row. Then use as many rows as needed to fill in your expenses. Go back to column A and after the last row of your expenses type in “Total”. To make up the total, type in =abs(your first expense – your remaining expenses) in order to get a positive number. Then you can make a running total to see your remaining amount, (which is your total starting amount – your total expense amount). The running total is going to be your starting amount for the next month.

You have now successfully created a budget in Excel.

To use Word or a checkbook register, just make a table and label it like we did above or however you like. Add your starting amount and make sure you write down all of your expenses. Subtract each expense from the total and that tells you how much money you currently have. See, managing your money is easy!


Written by Brenden, student at  West Texas A&M University.

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