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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Sponsored Content: Building a budget for graduation in seven basic steps

(Photo courtesy of JPMorgan Chase & Co.)

Budgeting can be a useful tool to help you reach your graduation goals without breaking the bank. A budget can help you keep track of your spending, avoid debt, limit overspending and build good savings habits. Local experts like Carrie Rowe, branch manager of the Manhattan Chase branch located at 623 N. Manhattan Ave., can assist in achieving your final financial aspirations.

Let’s explore how a budget can benefit you this graduation and how to build one:

1) Start with the basics. A budget helps you figure out how much money to set aside for graduation expenses like cap and gowns, photo shoots, graduation memorabilia, celebratory dinner or festivities. As you’re planning a budget, think about unexpected costs and trends in your current expenses that could challenge what you want to spend during graduation. Is there a particular expense that is pressuring your budget? Has your take-home pay changed since last year? Are there new recurring bills for medical or cost-of-living needs? Understanding your financial habits can help you make the proper adjustments for graduation. 

2) Create your budget. This takes a few simple steps, including calculating your take-home pay; gathering credit card and bank statements and receipts for the past few months; organizing expenses into categories, such as rent, groceries and entertainment; and determining how much you spend in each category per month. Now that you’ve crunched the numbers and can see how much money is coming in and going out, you can start making your budget. 

3) Don’t forget to save. Make a place in your budget for savings. You can set aside money from each take-home pay period for each graduation need. 

4) Set some limits. Some expenses remain the same each month, like rent or car payments, while others like groceries and entertainment are more flexible. Set spending limits for your flexible expenses like movie nights or takeout, so you can focus on seasonal expenses like graduation. 

5) Use budgeting tools to track spending. This can be as simple as using paper and pen to write down your income and spending categories, entering numbers in a computer spreadsheet or using budgeting apps — like Chase’s Budget feature in the mobile app and on — that are linked to your accounts. 

6) Adjust as needed. Update your budget when your income or goals change. If you’re using tracking tools, you should know when you’re getting close to spending limits or if you have more money than expected. 

7) Find ways to cut costs. Small recurring expenses go unnoticed, but they can add up. Scan your bank account and credit card statements for recurring charges and evaluate whether they are worth continuing at the moment. 

Adjusting to a budget can take time — it’s about finding the right balance of spending and saving — but starting now can help you worry less on your graduation day. You might discover some of your spending limits are too low, while others are higher than they need to be. You can always review your budget against your expenses and rethink how you’ve set it up. You may reach out to Rowe and her team of bankers by visiting the Manhattan branch located at 623 N. Manhattan Ave. from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. An appointment may be made online via the webpage (located in the upper right hand corner) or by using the Chase mobile app

Keep working at it — that’s the best way for your budget to be effective. 

For more information, visit

Sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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