How to Plan Your Budget When Studying for an MBA

How to Plan Your Budget When Studying for an MBA

An MBA is one of the best qualifications you can get as it is so well respected in business. Obtaining one will give you a huge number of career options and help you move up the promotion ladder faster too. It is no wonder that many people decide they need to get this qualification. However, it doesn’t come cheap as the one-year course can cost you several thousand dollars to complete, and that is without taking your living expenses into account for the time you are studying. If you have decided to study for an MBA, here are some tips to help you manage your budget.

Consider Your Place of Study

Many institutions offer an MBA program, but they can vary greatly in price and accessibility. For example, with some colleges, you may be expected to up sticks and move to the other side of the country. The move will be expensive, and you may find that living expenses are costlier in your new location too. Another option might be to study MBA programs online with a school such as Kettering University. That way you can study from the comfort of your own home and won’t need to incur the expense of moving or higher living costs. Online study will also save you the cost of commuting and give you more time to take on paid work too. These factors can make a huge difference when planning your budget.


If you have already been working in industry for a while, you may have built up some savings that you could utilize to get you through the time you are studying. Use this money to help you plan your budget but make sure you leave yourself an emergency fund that you can use if you need to. There may be issues such as your car breaking down which will need money to repair or unexpected bills that you hadn’t factored into your budget.


Consider whether you want to give up work entirely to concentrate on getting your MBA or whether you will still need to earn some money. Many people successfully combine a full-time job with their online study program, but this is a personal decision, and you should do what feels best for you. Another option might be to work part-time while you complete the course and then you will still have some money coming in while you are studying without putting yourself under the pressure of trying to juggle a full-time job with a full program of study.

Ask For Help

It may be that you are eligible for grants or loans while you are studying which will increase your finances and could make a big difference to your budget. Look online and apply for anything that is open to you before you start your course.

Plan Your Budget

Once you know how much you are likely to have coming in during the time you are studying, you can start to plan your budget. Firstly, work out what expenses you have now and consider how this will change once you have started studying. For example, you are likely to have to spend more money on books and course materials once you have started studying.

Now you need to work out how much money you will need for your essential spending. Things such as rent, food, and utility bills are necessities so you will need to put these at the top of your list. However, you can make savings to your essential bills by shopping around to make sure you always have the best deals on your utilities, and buying your food in bulk which will make it cheaper. It is a good idea to put your essential spending money into a separate bank account as soon as you get it so that you are not tempted to spend it on luxury items rather than necessities.

Once you have taken care of the essentials, you need to think about what you need to spend over the longer term. For example, if the duration of your course is one year, you may need to pay your car insurance bill in that time or you could have an event that you need to spend money on such as a family wedding. Set aside some money from your budget so that you can afford these events when they arise, and you will find your budget a lot easier to manage in the longer term. Put this money into a saving account and make sure you only spend it when you really need to.

Hopefully, you will have some money left over once you have taken care of these things and you can spend this money having fun. It is a good idea to put this money into a separate bank account and plan how much you are going to spend every week on things such as going out with your friends. buying treats and other things that make you feel good. You should only take out the debit card that relates to this account as this will stop you from using your other accounts if you run out of money part-way through the week. Sticking to this part of your budget is always going to be the most difficult part of your overall plan but with some forethought and a little discipline, it will be manageable.

It may be that your income fluctuates over time. For example, you may be able to take on more paid work in the holiday periods or when you are not as busy with assignments. It could be that you receive a grant or student loan payment at different times of the year. When you look at your overall budget, you should consider the academic year rather than trying to plan month by month to allow for these fluctuations.

Maintaining Your Budget

Having set your budget, you will need to maintain it. This can be the trickiest part as overspending is tempting, especially if your budget is limited. Stay on top of your expenditure by tracking what you are spending and what you are spending it on. Remember that your budget is not set in stone so if you find that you have underbudgeted in one area it could be that you can make cutbacks elsewhere to find the money you need.

There are some great ways to make your budget go further. You can cut down on your non-essential spending by making sure that you always shop around for the best deals. This works especially well with larger purchases such as furniture or holidays. If you find a lower price, you can always use this as a negotiating point if you would rather buy the product elsewhere. This may not work all the time, but it is certainly worth trying.

Many retail and entertainment outlets offer discounts for students so make sure you ask the question before you buy and always carry proof of your student status with you. This could save you a lot of money on shopping, the cinema and eating out.

It can be difficult to live within a budget if your friends aren’t. This is especially true if you have returned to education and your friends are working full-time as the chances are they will have a much bigger disposable income than you do. Trying to keep up with their spending is not going to work for you so you shouldn’t try to. You can keep in touch with your friends on a budget, but you may have to plan your entertainment a little better than you did in the past. Try cooking at home and inviting your friends to dine with you if you can’t afford to eat out. You may find that your friends will welcome this as it will save them money too and the evening will be a lot more enjoyable without having to worry about paying the bill at the end of the meal. Plan your spending so that you can afford a big night out occasionally such as a birthday or celebration so that you won’t feel you are missing out too much.

Stay Focused

Stay focused on your long-term goals and you will find your short-term goals easier. Are you undertaking your study program to get a foot in the door of your dream industry or a promotion? Do you want to study for self-improvement or to broaden your horizons? Whatever the reason for your studies, they are going to be good ones, so stay focused on these as you go along and the process of both studying and budgeting will be easier to manage.

Follow these tips to help you plan your budget and stick to it while you are studying for an MBA. These are tips that will help you after graduation too as you will be well-practiced in planning your finances which will help you throughout your life and not just for the next year or two.


Studying for an MBA is a great thing to pursue, but it can be really hard to do from a financial perspective. These tips and ideas should give you some ways that you can make your budget stretch further during your studies so that you don’t get into a monetary crisis. It can be tough and uncomfortable, but the financial sacrifice will be well worth it once you have completed the course and have used it to launch a successful career.