words by Skyla Patton

The rush of payday—or loan disbursement— feels great: a feeling of security, the illusion  of endless spending potential and the pleasure of a thicker wallet. We look forward to it, and many of us organize our lives around when we get an influx cash or a surplus of funds. But we’ve all felt the sting of guilt after a treat yo self, or the sense of dread watching how quickly life expenses burn a hole in your pocket. It’s hard enough already, and then there’s the gaping black hole that is college expenses — books, random fees, the double espresso and extra bag of hot cheetos you need to get through your 8am. But don’t give in to an early-life crisis yet — it’s not all bad! There are ways to successfully slow your roll and manage your budget: read on for a few life hacks that will help you have your cake and eat it, too.

Set a Budget 

Creating and maintaining a realistic budget for yourself is one of the surest and most basic ways to be efficient with your cash. Start by identifying your net income, and from there you can set spending goals, limits and track your spending. This allows you to be in control of your finances and leaves room for adjustments and changes to suit your needs.

No Really, Set a Budget 

Seriously— it’s the first step in getting your financial @#%# together. Unless you figure out how to rule your finances, they will rule you.

Jar Savings Hack

An adult version of a piggy bank, this life hack is both simple and super effective. Select a fashionable jar with a tight lid and DIY your label for something you want: “savings,” “vacation,” or “Dixie Chicks concert.” Once your jar is ready, identify a goal, a dollar amount and a timeline. For example, let’s say you want to go on a vacation during winter break of the following year and have 10 months to save, and are choosing to sacrifice your fives. Every time you have a $5 bill (within financial reason), put that bill in the jar for safe keeping. Do not open your jar until you have reached your savings goal! This is a savings hack that rewards the patient —with a trip to Thailand, a down payment for a car, or finally paying off that credit card debt.

Stop Buying So Many Lattes

While the very thought of cutting back on caffeine may send a shock of horror through your body, coffee puts a huge dent in your bank account, especially if you favor pricey coffee shops for your fix. Cutting back on  $5 mochas in favor of a simple cup of coffee, or—even better—making a cup for the morning at home is an easy way to end up with an extra $100 at the end of the month. This isn’t limited to your daily cup before class, either. Test yourself and try cutting out other frivolous food spending to see how much you can save.

Become a Discount Master

There is nothing like the feeling of cutting your total in half at the checkout stand with a coupon, discount or promo code. The Student Survival Guide — a massive savings booklet packed full of local discounts and coupons distributed every term to UO and LCC students — is a lifesaver when it comes to local shopping.  Get the app on your phone  at thesurvivalkit.com or go analog and get a massive coupon book mailed to your door. Bonus Tip: A quick Google search for your favorite store’s coupons can lead to incredible savings on purchases. Most major stores offer online savings and discounts that are available to anyone who checks before they buy.

Pack Lunches For School

College life is hectic and it’s hard to make time for cooking a full-fledged breakfast, plus there are those of us who don’t even know how to make one in the first place. Despite these challenges, your wallet will thin out fast if you spend $7 every day on a Panda Express bowl — no matter how tasty they are.  Prepping your own meals and buying snack supplies to take to school will prevent daily spending from sneaking out of control and make your paycheck last longer. As a bonus tip, shop at outlet stores: places like Grocery Outlet, The Dollar Store and Winco often have guaranteed price comparisons and are loaded with pre-portioned snacks or lunch supplies on the cheap.