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The Budget Pig - Four Lessons for Incoming College Students

SMMC Staff
9/22/2011  3:00 pm


In order to be successful in college, there are a few things to know about managing your money while you're here.  Here are the topics covered in the first lesson of "The Budget Pig" - a video by the University of Illinois Student Money Management Center (SMMC) on how to finance your college education:

  1. There are several options to finance college
  2. Grants, scholarships, loans and working and paying your own way are just some of the options available to students
  3. Everyone has different needs so find out which financing option works best for you

For University of Illinois Students: Student Loans, grants and scholarships are available for students to help pay tuition.  However, if you do not want to participate in the payment plan or receive any financial aid, tuition is due on the 28th of September (for Fall 2011 Semester).  You can pay all at once if you don’t want to participate in the payment plan.  If you don’t pay your balance in full, any remaining balance will be charged a 1.5% penalty charge.  Students can pay with an echeck online, pay with a check in person, cash or with a credit card.  (Discover, American Express and MasterCard are accepted but will charge a 2.4% convenience fee).  If you have any further questions regarding payment, email

The second lesson in "The Budget Pig" series is about how to successfully budget your money while in school and covers the following points:

  1. Establishing between needs and wants is the first step to budgeting
  2. Always make sure you have enough to pay for your needs before paying for the items that you want
  3. Make a spending plan and make sure you allocate for saving
  4. If you receive a refund from the University you must make sure to develop a spending plan so you do not run out of money by the end of the semester

With a limited income, managing expenses can be mentally and physically taxing.  As a student, school takes up most of your mental capacity worrying about class, homework, and of course how you're spending the weekend.  The third lesson of "The Budget Pig" is focused on the following concepts to help you manage those expenses a little better while also remaining aware of how much income you have to work with:

  1. Your income is the money you have coming in, your expenses is the money that goes out
  2. In order for your budget to be successful your expenses must be less than your income
  3. Expenses can be sneaky and you can incur a sudden expense, or sudden loss of income, which is why it is so important to have a savings account

To help you visualize where your money is coming from and where it is going, check out the Budget Builder at the following link:  If you feel more comfortable working with a paper budget, feel free to download our Budget Template or check out this post to get started on a spending plan today.  In addition, Sally Student's Sample Budget is a great resource if you are not sure how much you should allow for your needs, or if you are unaware of how much items cost in Illinois.

One of the hardest parts of cutting expenses is overcoming spending temptations.  That recurring question of "is this a need or a want?" can really throw a lot of us for a loop.  Pizza, though a food (which is a necessity), can actually be a want since you can eat healthier (and cheaper) foods.  The fourth lesson of "The Budget Pig" covers the following topics to help you cut expenses and balance those needs and wants:

  1. College is a very exciting time in your life so you may be tempted to spend your money, but it is important to resist spending for instant gratification
  2. There are several events and activities for students to stay entertained that are either free or offer student discounts
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open for job opportunities on campus that can also assist you with increasing your income

All University of Illinois campuses have profound resources for you to hone your professional skills, prepare materials for the job search and find jobs.  Here is the contact information for the career services office on each campus:

Chicago: Office of Career Services - 
Springfield: Career Development Center -
Urbana: Career Services Network -

If you're busy MAKING money,  you also won't be as tempted to SPEND it ;)

For International Students that have questions about their ability to obtain a job in the US, please contact the International Student Services office on your campus.  Here is the contact information for each campus:

Chicago: Website - & Phone - (312) 996-3121
Springfield: Website - & Phone - (217) 206-6678
Urbana: Website - & Phone - (217) 333-1303

In conclusion, it is important to remember the following concepts to stay financially savvy in school:

Needs > Wants
Spend < You Earn
Keep Emergency Savings
Loans have to be repaid, so don't borrow more than you need

For a constant reminder of the lessons in "The Budget Pig", print out this document, then tape it on your wall! :)