A budget is simply a spending plan that is based on your income and expenses. A budget is an important tool to keep you financially healthy while you are in school and after you graduate college. By having a written plan, you’ll stay on track and understand how to “live within your means.” In order to create a realistic budget, you should first assess your current lifestyle and spending habits. Start by itemizing your basic monthly living expenses, such as: rent, utilities, food, clothing, laundry, transportation, entertainment, and so on. The next step is to itemize your financial resources, such as parental/family support, savings, full-time/ part-time work income, and so on. Now you should be able to compare your projected monthly expenses to your projected monthly income, thus assessing your need (if any) for student loans to bridge the difference. When taking into account your expenses, look closely to determine what items are a true necessity and those that are not. Remember, the goal of creating a budget, especially while you’re in college is to find ways to reduce the amount of loans you have to borrow. Trimming those expenses could help lower that amount and make loan management simpler.