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Student Life
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Build a Better Budget from Your Tax Return

Published: March 14, 2016 | Updated: November 10, 2020

Did you just finish your tax return? That’s great! Since you have all your financial documents at easy access, now would be the perfect time to create a realistic personal budget. Start with the total of your income from all sources, including part time jobs, child support and miscellaneous income. Did you make more or less than you thought? Once you know what you really earn, you can better prepare for how you should spend.

Next, take a look at your eligible deductions. If you had a lot of expenses last year, do you think they’ll be the same as this year? Here are a few to consider:

Tuition and Student Loan Interest:  Seeing the deduction for your tuition or student loan right there on your return is a great reminder that you need to make paying off your loans a top priority.

Medical and Dental Expenses: Use last year’s numbers to forecast how much you might need for medical and dental expenses that won’t be covered by your insurance.

Child Support: Did you pay or receive childcare support? If so, think about whether the amount will be the same next year.

Mortgage Interest: If you own your own home, the mortgage interest is a huge deduction that you may not even realize until the end of the year. But the amount will decrease each year.

Contributions: If you have a favorite cause you support, be sure you don’t leave it out when you create your budget.

Although you can’t deduct the interest you pay on credit cards, the end-of-year statements they provide will help you get a really clear picture of what you’re charging to your account. If you paid interest, consider ways to cut back on credit card use. Wouldn’t you rather that money stay in your pocket instead of go into some huge bank’s?

Other items you need to add to your budget are rent, food, utilities, auto expense, fuel and entertainment. If you have a hard time sticking to your budget, try an old fashioned envelope system. Label several envelopes with expense categories and put money into the envelopes each week. Or take a modern approach and use a budgeting app that will help you get the same results.

At Charter College, we know that budgeting can be a challenge, but we know our students are up for it! Charter College offers career-focused programs in business, health care, information technology, veterinary assistance, and the trades. If you’re ready to change your life, start here.