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How To Use the Student Budget Tool


The Student Budget Tool is your personalized plan to destroy student debt. Start by saving your own editable copy.


Start by saving your own editable copy:

Google Drive
  1. Open the Student Budget Tool in Google Drive (CLICK HERE)
  2. Click File ➞ Make a Copy to save it to your Google Drive
Microsoft Excel
  1. Open the Student Budget Tool in Google Drive (CLICK HERE)
  2. Click File ➞ Download As ➞ Microsoft Excel and save a copy to your computer
OpenOffice Calc
  1. Open the Student Budget Tool in Google Drive (CLICK HERE)
  2. Click File ➞ Download As ➞ OpenDocument Format and save a copy to your computer
Next, make your plan:

Once you've saved the Student Budget Tool, use it alongside the Student Debt Destroyer guide to make your plan for a debt-free degree! Here's a breakdown of each sheet in the Student Budget Tool.


Sheet 1: Monthly Budget

The Monthly Budget sheet is a living document you'll use throughout your college career to anticipate and plan to pay expenses. Here's how each section works.


Starting Balance

If you already have money you plan to use toward school, enter the total amount in this box. If you do not have any available funds, simply enter a Starting Balance of 0.


To Graduate Debt-Free

This box shows you whether you're on the path to graduating debt-free or if you need to make adjustments. If you need to make adjustments, the number in the box indicates how much you either need to REDUCE EXPENSES or INCREASE INCOME, or a combination of both, to offset the cost of college before graduation.


Your Total Cost of College

This box initially calculates your Total Cost of College. Once you begin tracking payments and income, it will calculate how much you have left to pay for college.


Summary

A quick breakdown of your college expenses by category. This can help you identify focus areas for saving.


Expenses

Here's where you'll enter your anticipated expenses. Reference STEP 2: KNOW YOUR EXPENSES in the Student Debt Destroyer guide to learn how to project your expenses.


Note the following:
  • The sheet accounts for 6 years of school, but yours might be more or less. Only fill out expenses for the number of years you plan on attending college.
  • When you enter a line item in the first column (Year 1/Aug), the Student Budget Tool assumes it is a recurring expense and it will be automatically copied to each subsequent month. If an expense is nonrecurring, delete the expense from subsequent months.
  • You can also enter large expenses on their due months. For example, if you have a tuition payment due in December of Year 1, enter it in the matching row and column on the sheet (Year 1/Dec). This is critical to projecting cash flow and preventing cash shortages.
  • Conduct your own research to fill out your anticipated expenses for each category. If you have expenses that do not fall under any of the listed categories, place them in the Other category or add a new row.
  • Your expenses by month will be tallied at the bottom of the Expenses section.
  • Delete payments from the sheet as you make them. Tracking in this way ensures you'll never miss a payment. When you delete a payment, the sheet will automatically recalculate your cash flow and adjust your total cost of college to show how much you have left to pay.

Income

Here's where you'll list your projected income. Reference STEP 3: GET MONEY in the Student Debt Destroyer guide to map out a plan for earning income.


Note the following:
  • Input large single payments on the dates you will receive them. For example, if you will receive grant funds in December of Year 1, enter it in the matching row and column on the sheet (Year 1/Dec). This is critical to projecting cash flow and preventing cash shortages.
  • If you have income that doesn't fall under one of the listed categories, place it in the Other category or add a new row.
  • Your income by month will be tallied at the bottom of the Income section.
  • Only add post-tax income to the sheet.
  • Your expenses by month will be tallied at the bottom of the Expenses section.
  • Once you've received a payment, delete it from the sheet. This is critical to accurately projecting your cash flow and remaining college payments.
Summary

This section automatically summarizes your total expense and total income by month, then calculates your balance.


Note the following:
  • The Balance line indicates how much money you will have after paying your expenses each month.
  • The Balance also represents your cash flow. If your Balance is negative for a given month, you will not have enough money to cover your expenses for that month. You will either need to REDUCE EXPENSES or INCREASE INCOME (or a combination thereof) to offset the negative amount. For example, if you have a $500 negative balance in December of Year 1, you will have to reduce your expenses and/or increase income by $500 prior to December in order to pay your bills and remain debt-free.
  • If your Balance is 0 or greater for all months, you are on the path to graduating debt-free!

Sheet 2: Completed Example

This sheet shows you what the Monthly Budget tab will look like once you've completed it. The Completed Example is for your reference only; use the Monthly Budget sheet to input your own figures.


Sheet 3: Year-to-Year

This sheet automatically summarizes your Expenses, Income, and Balance by year to give you a bird's eye view of your path to a debt-free degree. All calculations are performed automatically based on the Monthly Budget sheet, so it requires no manual entry.


Sheet 4: Set Goals

This sheet is designed to help you think critically about your goals. Reference STEP 1: SET YOUR GOALS in the Student Debt Destroyer guide to learn how to create SMART goals that will help you achieve your dream lifestyle and map out college and career paths to get you there.


Note the following:
  • Answer the critical questions at the top of the page to define what you'll need to live your dream lifestyle.
  • Set your Lifestyle, Career, and College goals according to the SMART formula:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic
    • Time-Bound
  • For each goal you set, enter Yes or No in the SMART columns. If a goal doesn't fit the SMART criteria, rework it until it does.
  • You can insert additional rows if needed.

Sheet 5: Get Money

This sheet helps you formulate a plan for earning income during college. Reference STEP 3: GET MONEY in the Student Debt Destroyer guide to learn more about income opportunities.


Note the following:
  • The Get Money section lists the steps you need to take to find income, per the Student Debt Destroyer guide. As you complete each step, mark it Completed.
  • The Grant Opportunities, Scholarship Opportunities, Work-Study Opportunities, and Job Opportunities sections help you research and apply for income opportunities. As you conduct your research, list each opportunity's name, website URL, payout, application deadline, and any notes you want to remember. Use this section to help you decide which opportunities to apply for and ensure you don't miss application deadlines. You can insert additional rows if needed.

Sheet 6: Living Lean

This sheet will help you brainstorm ways to save money while you attend college. List all the ways you can think of to save money (feel free to enlist the help of friends and family members). Consciously thinking about saving money can help you identify new cost-cutting opportunities and actively practice saving strategies. Reference Take Action! Learn to Live Lean under STEP 2: KNOW YOUR EXPENSES in the Student Debt Destroyer guide for more information.


Sheet 7: Review

This sheet helps you set specific times to review your goals and your budget. It's important to routinely review your goals and your financial standing to ensure you're on the path to graduating debt-free, so use the sheet to set dates for weekly, monthly, and annual reviews and commit to your plan! Reference Take Action! Review Your Plan under STEP 3: GET MONEY in the Student Debt Destroyer guide for more information.


Have questions or need more help? Check out the Student Budget Tool FAQ for more information.