Budgets - Stretching Your Dollar


Why Create a Budget?

Creating a budget for yourself, especially while in college, can save you time, money and stress in the long run.  How will you know the amount of loans to borrow, how many hours you need to work, or if you can afford that extra class if you don’t do a budget first to determine your funds going in and out?  Money affects all areas of our lives.  If you’re stressed about your finances, other parts of your life will suffer.  This is especially true as a student.  So try creating a budget, it will help you focus on more important things... like graduating!

Needs vs. Wants

The first step in creating a budget is determining your needs (essential things you cannot live without) and your wants (things you’d really like to have but could live without).

While on a budget, it takes discipline to focus on spending money just on your needs, but this is especially important while in school and less money is coming in!

Although everyone’s Needs and Wants vary by situation and circumstance, here are some general examples:



Food Extra Snacks, Eating Out, Coffee
Rent/Mortgage Entertainment
Utility Bills Expensive Cable TV
Clothing New Clothes/New Phone
Transportation New Car

Save as a Student!

Take advantage of your student status to save money.

  • UAA Shuttle and the People Mover

    FREE transportation with your Wolfcard!

  • Discount Movie Tickets at the Student Union

    $7-$8 movie tickets for first-run theaters, purchase at UAA InfoDesk in the Student Union!

  • Alyeska Ski Resort discount

    Save up to $15 on a lift ticket!

  • Peppercini’s at the UC

     Always 10% off when you show your Wolfcard!

  • Governor's Cup to Fairbanks (check UAA Student Union InfoDesk for details)

    $25 bus ticket to Fairbanks and back for the two hockey games, and some food!

  • Engaging Events at UAA

    FREE and discounted tickets to events and concerts – you’re paying the fees already!

  • Student Health and Counseling Center

    You’ve paid the fees, take advantage if you’re not feeling well, mentally or physically.

  • Free Printing!

    You have $12 each semester on your Wolfcard to use for printing, plus free printing in your specific school’s computer lab and at Career Services!

  • Apple Music

    Apple offer a discount on Apple Music Memberships for all college students! The cost become $4.99 per month.

How Should You Make Your Budget?




Excel Spreadsheet

Microsoft application where cells with equations are created to automatically add and subtract budget items

  • Info stored on hard-drive
  • accessible but safe
  • Many free templates
  • Lots of control
  • Must manually update
  • Should understand formulas
  • Purchased software


Online or Smartphone tools to help you budget

  • Convenient
  • Can do things automatically
  • Must give your account info to link to app
  • Possibly lots of bells and whistles you don’t need

Envelope System

Different envelopes for different areas (ex. Utilities, Fun, Rent, etc.) where you put cash every month to pay for area expenses

  • Can see exactly where you’re spending money
  • Helps keep disciplined
  • Can easily switch money between envelopes
  • Must manually update each expense on envelopes
  • Some things are inconvenient to pay with cash

Using Cash Only for a Set Time

Giving yourself a cash allowance for a set time, and only paying for things out of this cash

  • Helps keep discipline
  • Know where money is going immediately
  • Helps stay on track with set amount
  • Must manually keep track of where cash went
  • Some things are inconvenient to pay with cash

Paper Budget

  • Can transport easily
  • Free
  • Everything manual
  • Could easily lose

Budgeting Tips

  • You’re in college, so live like a college student!
  • Determine what is essential in your life (your needs) versus what would be nice to have (your wants).  Try to focus on your needs and spend money on those.
  • Find a budgeting technique that works for you, and stick with it.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Don’t give up!
  • Estimate a budget for an entire year rather than just a month or semester.
  • Taking out loans as a “back-up” or cushion is usually not the best idea.  If you have the money, you’ll spend it, perhaps without needing to do so and the interest that will accumulate on the loans is not worth it!  Determine your needs vs. wants to figure out the least amount of loans you can take out to survive while in school.

Budgeting Apps

There are lots of apps out there that can help you budget better.  Some are free, some are paid, and they vary with amounts of bells and whistles included.  Check these out  to see what might work for you: