Personal budgeting and student spending infographic

The final two questions that we had on the post about the book, “Hot Broke Messes,” by Nancy Trejos, are related.  One reader asked, “How do you adjust to a much higher cost of living while in dental school?” Another asked, “How do you set a budget for going to dental school when you have a family?”

In both of these cases, there is a somewhat easy answer. You will want to make a personal budget for yourself. On this budget, you want to consider both fixed and discretionary expenses. Again, fixed expenses are those that you will incur whether you have an income stream or not. These include mortgage payments or rent, utilities, a basic amount of groceries and clothing, some level of childcare if you have children and health insurance costs.

Discretionary expenses are those that you do not HAVE to incur. These include travel and vacation costs, meals out and other entertainment, home furnishings, etc.  By first allocating any income stream that you have to fixed expense items, you will be able to quickly see what you have left for discretionary items. Because the cost of living varies from city to city, the figures will vary greatly among students. However, the budgeting process is the same. The goal (and the most difficult part of the process) is to stick to the budget that you set so that you do not have to incur additional debt (usually in the form of credit card debt) to afford necessary items during school.

Click here for an example of a personal budget worksheet.

Ever wonder what your peers are spending their money on? Click the infographic below to find out! ASDA polled dental students from 30 different schools to find out how much they spend on caffeine, eating out and more. This infographic originally appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Mouth.


~Megan Mathers (Hille), JD, Pesavento & Pesavento

About Megan Mathers (Hille)

Megan is an accountant with Pesavento & Pesavento, Ltd., a 38 year CPA firm focused on providing accounting, tax, and business advisory services to the dental community. Megan is also an owner at Mathers Law, which focuses on contractual business matters, estate planning and ancillary legal services with a focus on the dental industry. Megan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Marquette University in 2003 and her law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2006. Megan’s practice has focused on tax compliance, tax planning and wealth and estate planning.

Comments (2)

  1. J Anthony Kososki DDS FAGD

    Good article about budgeting and student spending. I understand and I am sure everyone else does being a student and trying to watch your pennies while attending school is hard, but at the same time if you can manage to live frugal you will be very grateful in the end.

  2. Roger L Gillespie DDS

    Came across this article and budgeting when your young and attending dental school it’s hard. I think that goes with anything when your young and starting off. Just need to be aware of expenses and maybe keep a journal on what your spending your money on. This will show you where your money is going to each month.


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