Let’s Talk Money: Budgeting

Budgeting is a critical financial planning tool that can help you achieve your financial goals by managing your income and expenses.

Why Should I Budget?

A budget is a plan for how to manage your money. It can help you feel like you are in control of your finances, and let you figure out how to spend money wisely and how to save for future purchases or pay down debt. There are many budgeting tools that you can use – it could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet or other way of tracking your expenses and resources. Whether you use manual tools or apps/software to help you, the main principle remains the same: list your costs or expenses and your funding sources.

How Do I Budget?

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides an outline of steps for budgeting, including thinking about your financial goals, understanding where your money is going, and considering your needs compared to your wants. 

Tools & Resources

Take advantage of these tools and resources to help you get started with developing your own budget.

Budget Examples

Example 1 – Undergraduate Student


2nd Year | Psychology and Visual Arts Program
St. George Campus

Ana is a single student with no children, who is renting a place off-campus with roommates. Her programs require her to purchase books and art supplies such paint, paint brushes, canvas, etc. She has some financial support from her family and received some funding from bursaries. She is not an Ontario resident, so she does not qualify for OSAP. Ana works part-time as a Work Study student to offset what she can of her expenses. She has a combination of a bank loan and credit card to help with her remaining balance/debt. 

Living ExpensesAmount/
Rent Payments$950
Utilities (Hydro, Electricity, etc.)$50
Public Transport (TTC, GO Transit, etc.)$128
Total Monthly Living Expenses$1,548
Education ExpensesAmount
Tuition and Fees Fall and Winter term$7,878
Books and Materials$1,686
Total Education Expenses$9,564
Part-Time Work$3,600
Scholarships, Grants and Bursaries$4,000
Other Personal Savings$2,000
Family Contributions$4,000
Total Funding Sources$13,600

Ana’s Budget Breakdown for her Academic Year
Note: This is based on 8 months – September to April

= Total Education Expenses + Total Living Expenses
= $9,564 + $12,384 ($1,548 x 8 months)
= $21,948

Total Funding

= $13,600


= Total Funding Sources – Total Expenses
= $13,600 – $21,948
= -$8,348

Ana will have to explore additional funding sources to cover the remaining balance of $8,348.

Example 2 – Graduate Student


3rd Year | Computer Science Program
Scarborough Campus

Jacky is a single student in his 3rd year of studies in the Computer Science program at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. He lives at home during his studies. Jacky is participating in a co-op work term from September to April. At the same time, he will be taking two courses. He also will be studying full-time during the Summer session. Jacky received OSAP for his Fall, Winter and Summer studies.

Living ExpensesAmount/
Public Transport (TTC monthly pass to get to work and class)$128
Total Monthly Living Expenses$558
Education ExpensesAmount
Tuition and Fees Fall and Winter ($4143) + Summer($6528)$10,671
Books and Materials$681
Total Education Expenses$11,352
Fall and Winter term OSAP$5,885
Summer term OSAP$6,060
Income from Co-op$24,000
Total Funding Sources$35,945

Jacky’s Budget Breakdown for his Academic Year
Note: This is based on 12 months – September to August

= Total Education Expenses + Total Living Expenses
= $11,352 + $6,696 ($558 x 12)
= $18,048

Total Funding

= $35,945


= Total Funding Sources – Total Expenses
= $35,945 – $18,048
= +$17,897

Jacky will not need to explore additional funding sources, as her expenses are fully covered.