How to Graduate with a Spending Plan

Use this worksheet to help you plan a spending plan for after college.

If you're considering borrowing money for college or nearing graduation, it's a good idea to think about what your financial situation will be like in the real world. This worksheet can help you estimate a budget for after you leave college.

Consider your probable income, not what you hope to make. If you aren't sure about what that might be, check the classified ads in a local newspaper for starting salary information in your field, speak to an employment counselor at your school, or visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( If you're planning a spending plan for one month, use monthly salary information. If you have additional income sources other than salary, consider those also, but be certain that you can count on that money being available.

If you aren't sure about some of the information:

  • Call utility companies,
  • Contact apartment complexes to find out about rent charges,
  • Ask your parents about utility bills and deposits, and
  • Ask recent graduates about the actual costs of life after college.

If you're thinking about borrowing money for college, you can expect to begin paying it back six months after you leave school. Remember to include your monthly student loan payments in your expenses.

To find out what you can expect your monthly payments to be, use AIE's loan payment calculator.

This worksheet can help students estimate a monthly spending plan for after leaving school. All calculations are rounded to the nearest dollar.

Be sure to click outside any field you change for the automatic calculations to be updated.

Monthly Spending Plan Worksheet
I. Income
Estimated monthly salary
Minus taxes (approx. 28%)
Adjusted income
Other income
II. Expenses
Rent or mortgage
Combined utilities
Auto expenses
Student loan(s)
Other loans
Credit cards
Medical expenses
Household items (furniture, etc.)
III. Discretionary Income
Total monthly income
Total monthly expenses
Monthly discretionary income total   

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