Written by Nicole Scopelliti | Photo by Lauren Bruce

When you think “college,” what comes to mind? Tuition, textbooks and ramen noodles? What about the pizza you’re going to order on Friday night as a well-deserved reward for surviving midterms, or that oil change your car has been needing for a bit too long? Or how about that betta fish with an all-too-short lifespan that you need because you’ve caught a case of the college blues? Random expenses tend to come up when you least expect them to. Although we can’t predict the unexpected, we can better prepare ourselves for those unpredictable times, and one of the ways to best prepare yourself is to budget your money accordingly.

Creating a budget is easy – sticking to a budget is difficult. With this being said, make sure your monetary goals are attainable and fit your lifestyle. If buying new stationery makes you happy, set aside a few extra dollars to splurge each month. If you can’t live without your Netflix subscription, be sure to save money for your membership fees. Budgeting is constructive, but it doesn’t need to be restrictive.

Prioritizing items on your budget helps keep you on track. For example, prioritizing nutritious meals, personal hygiene products and rent payment will ensure that you take care of your most basic needs every month. Save a good portion of money for groceries each week and buy only what you absolutely need. This will help you avoid overbuying and wasting food. For affordable food buys, check out the Fred Meyer on West 11th or WinCo Foods, located at 4275 Barger Drive. Whole Foods Market, right next to Hub on Campus, offers a 10% discount to University of Oregon students every Tuesday. Utilize mobile apps such as Grocery Smarts and SnipSnap to search for grocery coupons. Putting aside some money for emergency and unexpected expenses, such as automobile work and doctors visits, is important. Allotting 10-20% of your monthly income for these purposes is ideal and saves you unnecessary anxiety.  Allot a small portion of your savings for leisure activities with friends, such as catching a movie, grabbing a bite to eat or spending an evening out at the bars. Use mobile apps such as Mint and Level Money to keep your spending habits in check when you head out for a night on the town. Even though it might not always appear to be the case, being a college student has its benefits. Bring your student ID card with you and ask if the specific shop, restaurant or venue offers student discounts. It’s an effortless way to save, and you’d be surprised to see how many places do offer such discounts.