Build your budget(s)

Now that you have thought about the cost of studying at McGill, living in Montreal and have a good idea of what percentage of your income should be set aside for each living expense, you are ready to create a budget! Visit our Budgeting 101 webinar to help get you started.

One-year budget plan

Start with a one-year budget plan. This will help you see exactly where your money is going on a monthly basis, and allow you to identify any necessary adjustments.


  • Open the tab corresponding to your year of enrollment (i.e. Year 2) of the File Frugal Scholar Toolkit
  • These tabs allow you to track your expenses and resources on a monthly basis. The sheet is set up so it will add up your entries by category. You can refer to the Budget Pie Guidelines tab to see how your spending is compared to the suggested spending amounts.
  • As you enter your information over the course of your degree, the Toolkit is designed to add up your total expenses and debt, allowing you to keep track of everything in one place. You will find this information on the Budget and Debt Overview tab.

Overall budget plan

You are going to be at McGill for more than one year, so you will need an overall budget plan, too. This will help you figure out how much money you will need to finance your entire degree. Depending on how long you will be studying, you can use the File Frugal Scholar Toolkit to calculate your Education Expenses, Living Expenses and Resources over the span of your studies.


  • The Toolkit is set up so that you can enter your expenses by academic year. If you are in year one, you can add estimated amounts in the tabs for subsequent years, and consult the final tab, Budget and Debt Overview, where the sheet has been set up to calculate your total educational and living expenses.

Staying on track

Once you have a plan, it is important to use it. We know sometimes this is easier said than done. If it is not working, it is okay to make adjustments as needed. Be sure to Cash in on $ tips that will help you live for less.

Still having trouble living within your budget? You may want to revisit the Estimate your Resources page to see if there are any other ways you can bring in extra cash, or schedule a Budget & Debt Management appointment with one of our Financial Aid Counsellors.

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