Friday, November 30, 2012

Take That, Debt!

Today, I made an extra payment towards my debt of a whopping $950!! Eat it, debt! This means by the time 2013 rolls around, I will have paid off around $19,000 of debt in ONE YEAR. SERIOUSLY? How is that even possible?

<---Why thank you, David Brent!

To see how I did this, I went back over my payments. I discovered a few key things:
1) I made quite a few large payments that significantly lowered my principal balance.

  • April 7, 2012 - $2,800 (money I had saved from when I was in school + tax return of about $700)
  • June 5, 2012 - $1,175 (graduation money + waitressing money)
  • June 19, 2012 - $2,300 (my first paycheck at my new job)
  • August 6, 2012 - $1,162 (birthday money + income from selling crap)
  • September 15, 2012 - PAID OFF GRAD LOAN #1
  • November 30, 2012 - $950 (security deposit returned + waitressing for the week)

These large payments alone total $8,387.
2) I put every extra penny of income towards my debt. This included monetary gifts and income from my side job as a waitress.

The rest of the balance was diminished by small weekly payments ranging from $50 - $500, depending on the week. I came up with this money by living in a cheap apartment and by putting all of my waitressing income towards debt. My second-job income since August netted me a total of $3,523.

If you add that to the large payment of $8,387 above, the total now becomes $11,910! This is all WITHOUT my income from my day job being used to bring down my debt.

3) I budgeted monthly debt payments to come out of my paycheck.

Finally, I put some of my monthly salary towards debt. I budgeted the minimum payments of $121 (undergrad loan) and $152 (remaining grad loan) to be paid from the money I made at my full-time job. This ensured that I would always pay the minimum payment on my debts every month.

I am simply AMAZED by this. It was both easy and it wasn’t. The hard part is working the second job. I do love waitressing on most nights. It gives me the chance to be social. But it does make me tired.

BUT, the easiest part was putting this system in place. I made a budget. I paid the minimum payments along with rent and other bills. Then, I decided that anything extra that came in would go towards paying off that debt. After that, the system just started working for itself. That’s what the debt snowball concept is all about. You knock one debt off and then you hit the next debt with an even larger snowball.

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/30/12 Edition

BOB is back after the Thanksgiving break!

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: The Washington Post did a piece on a DC tiny house community called Boneyard Studios. I've been following the Boneyard blog for a while and what they are doing is definitely an interesting idea. I don't think I could live in a space this small, but it is fun to think about how you could really simplify your life by living smaller.

Best Financial: Fabulously Broke in the City outlines 7 steps to becoming financially solid by 30. With the big 3-0 only a few years away, I've done some, but not all of these.

Best DIY: Not exactly a new post, but I did see this on Pinterest this week. I Am Momma Hear Me Roar DIY's a fabric floormat. Totally cool.

Best Before & After: This gaudy bedroom gets an extreme makeover, as featured on Design Sponge.

Best Random: How can you not love the Grumpy Cat? The owners are giving proceeds from t-shirt sales to a local charity. Love it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving Accomplished!

I’ve finally moved!

Moving week went by so fast, and Thanksgiving felt like a blur. My parents were here to celebrate the holiday (I cooked the turkey) and over the weekend they helped me move. Once we got everything in it looked like this:
Boxes, boxes everywhere!

What a mess! It looks better now, but there is still a lot of stuff I have to put away.

A few things I learned from this move:

1. Moving over a long weekend is definitely the way to go. BUT...

2. Moving during Black Friday is a bad idea. I had legitimate errands to run on a day that I would normally stay at home. I hate shopping malls and large department stores on normal days. Why, oh why, did I move during the biggest shopping weekend of the year? I encountered rabid consumers, rude and frustrated salespeople/cashiers, and crowded spaces. Not my idea of a good time.

3. If you see on the news that someone in a Virginia Sears (yes, I went there to get a good deal on a vacuum and it is amazing) store stabbed someone with a paring knife, don’t be surprised. The red light special a half hour after the store opened on Thanksgiving evening was a KNIFE. “Attention shoppers: Red Light Special on level two. If you are 21 or older, come claim your free paring knife.” My parents and I decided it was time to pay for the vacuum and get the hell out of dodge.

4. Having a carpenter for a dad is awesome. I knew this before, but I can never give my dad enough praise for solving all of my apartment-related problems. Break on a knob on your dresser? No problem, he’ll just put on new ones. You want only one divider on that Ikea shelf? No problem, he’ll do his own Ikea hack. And my favorite: You want to hang a curtain rod that is 12 feet long where the wall has no space for the middle bracket? No problem, he’ll just suspend it from the ceiling. No big deal. I love my dad!

5. Thanks for washing all of my dishes, Mom :)

More pictures to come as I get things put away!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moving Week!

Moving week has arrived! I've been busy organizing, packing, and making lists. I've rented the moving truck and reserved the freight elevator. Now it is just a matter of putting the plan in motion!

Over the years, I've learned a lot about moving. Here is my top five list of advice for movers.

1. Don't buy boxes. It is a waste of money. Stop by your local grocery store or favorite restaurant. See if they can hold boxes for you when they get their shipments in. If you work in a large building, ask the shipping center. In my building there is a central shipping center for all of the companies located in our building. Shipments come in every day, which means they have a lot of boxes that they would just throw away.

2. Pack a separate bag for your essential items. I mean toothbrush, toothpaste, shower items, and clothes. You will want these things immediately and it is a pain to search your boxes for these. I use a small rolly-bag that I use as a carry-on when I fly. It fits just the right amount of stuff.

3. Change your address (online!). This may sound obvious, but with our lives existing so much in the interwebs these days, it is important that you remember to update your address in ALL of your accounts. Filling out the change-of-address card at the post office isn't enough and hasn't been for a long time. No matter what, though, there is always one or two accounts I forget about and end up discovering the error months later.

4. Make a shopping list. If you are anything like me, you try to use up all of the perishables in your apartment before you move so you have less to carry. I try to do this with any items that could "run-out." Obviously, this means food, but I also try to not buy any extra bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, and cleaning supplies right before I move if I can avoid it. Before I move I make a list of the things that I need to buy right after the move, which usually includes these perishable items.

5. Pester your landlord about that security deposit. Don't ever give up on getting a security deposit back if you have cleaned and followed all of the check-out rules! Security deposits are quite large in most cases, and they should actually GROW if your landlord is operating by the book. Most states require that landlords put security deposits in an interest-bearing account. Fight for your money!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/16/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Sometimes we all need a moment of zen. Nothing puts me in a more relaxing mood than the sound of rain. Listen to rain all evening long at Rainy Mood.

Best Financial: Listen to Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face. Take advantage of employer matching!

Best DIY: Why yes, I would like to make my own room spritz! Thank you, Design Sponge, for these great recipes. My allergies thank you!

Best Before & After: This studio apartment via Apartment Therapy gives us another idea (Hanging panels? Happy thought, indeed!) of separating a small space into "rooms."

Best Random: Again, Apartment Therapy, you know exactly what I need to read. I'm thinking of switching to a Mac when I buy my next laptop. Here is a good post on what you need to know about switching.

There will be no Best of the Blogosphere post next week because I AM MOVING! Yay!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm a GLOBE Trotter!



Better Homes & Garden
What a corny title for this post, huh? So obviously I'm intrigued by the idea of decorating with globes. I love to travel and this would be a great way to bring that part of my personality into my apartment. I have one globe that I've never quite figured out how to display without taking up coveted table-top space. As you can see with these examples, the globes are displayed on top of the bookshelf. A perfect place! What would I put up there anyway? Probably nothing!

I'll have to keep my eye out for vintage globes in different sizes at flea markets and second-hand stores!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sometimes You Can't Avoid Clutter

This is what happens when you are in the middle of moving out and your roommate has to buy things to replace your stuff:

Isn't this great living room decor? NOT.
My roommate and I have about two weeks left of this limbo situation. I'm moving over Thanksgiving and she is getting a new roommate on December 1st. For now, we have to deal with this weird transition phase where we have boxes and belongings in various stages of disarray. This makes the anti-clutter gene in me go slightly crazy. For comfort, I look at Animals Hugging. Enjoy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/09/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Design Milk looks at the world's thinnest house. This is obviously simple living, but I don't know if the quality of living would be that great!

Best Financial: Are dollar stores really cheaper? In my hometown, definitely! Simple Family Finance tests out this theory.

Best DIY: This cheap table is turned into a lovely stand. Via Amber Interiors.

Best Before & After: How cool is this little closet-turned-bar? Via theSweeten.

Best Random: I had to pick two for this category this week. One is a tutorial on how to choose color from Apartment Therapy. The other is advice on how to group together artwork on a wall from Annechovie. Both of these will help me out when I move and need decorating advice!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Furniture for a New Place

I both love and hate Ikea. I love the simplicity of their items and the affordability. But I also hate that it is generic and mass-produced. Unique items are most often found at thrift stores and antique shops. They have character and can really add that special something to a room. But I can't stand it when the love of unique and antique items leads to clutter. I hate clutter!

What I propose to do with my new place is start simple, with basic items from Ikea, and then be on the look-out for those unique pieces that catch my eye. This will make the hunting more fun! I can already see myself browsing Miss Pixie's, a local DC second-hand/antique shop, for that curious table or picture frame.

I have two larger pieces of furniture in my apartment that I'm replacing with Ikea pieces. First, I have a TV stand that is just too big and quite the pain to clean:

I'm replacing it with this:

Next, is my futon. I'm not in college anymore. It is time to ditch the futon for a proper couch. I replaced the crappy metal frame a few years ago, but the mattress has held up for 10 years. I'm amazed at what a great purchase this was. Well worth it! But it is time to say goodbye to you, dear futon:

I'm replacing you with this loveseat:
One more item that I'll be purchasing is a larger Expedit shelving unit from Ikea. This is to separate my bedroom from my living room in my studio. 

Now, you'll notice a pattern here. I seem to be going for ALL WHITE. That is sort of scary. I've never gone for white before. I've stuck mainly with black items. I am a little nervous about this much white, but I figure I can change up the colors in the room easier if I have white furnishings. Right? Eek!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Studio Colors: Bathroom Edition

I’m so excited to live in my own place (and decorate it) that I've already started coming up with ideas for color schemes! I’m a lover of primary colors, and that is evident in my choices for my three rooms: red, yellow, and blue.

A few weeks ago I had an inspiration for my bathroom: gray/yellow/black/white! This will be PERFECT considering that I have enough black and yellow items (my alma mater’s school colors). I've gone back and forth with whether I should get a yellow shower curtain, because perhaps that would be too bold. But why not go bold? If I add enough yellow accents, I hope it will mute the overpowering gray/blue tile! Here is what I’m thinking for the shower curtain:

West Elm

Now, I don't have anything else planned beyond the shower curtain, so the rest of the room will be pretty bare for a while! Here's some inspiration from the interwebs to get me started:




Friday, November 2, 2012

Best of the Blogosphere: 11/02/12 Edition

Every Friday I feature a blog post in the following categories: Simple Living, Financial, DIY, Before & After, and Random. Here are this week's picks:

Best Simple Living: Learning to think differently is easier said than done. Leo over at Zen Habits gives us some good reasons for why we ought to try.

Best Financial: Beating Broke lists five foods you shouldn't waste your money on. I'm guilty of buying the last two items, sadly.

Best DIY: Genius. Absolute genius! A litter box Ikea hack!

Best Before & After: This reno took three years. Man, was it worth it! Via Design Sponge.

Best Random: I've been thinking about color combinations a lot lately, thanks to this post from Apartment Therapy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Apartment Photos

I finally have photos of my new place! Today I signed the lease and inspected my new studio. I'll officially move in a few weeks when my parents are here for Thanksgiving. The only phrase that can encompass my excitement is this: hell yeah! My new place is everything I dreamed and more. It beats my current place in every way. Even though this isn't a brand new building, management has done a good job cleaning and painting the place. I'm so happy with the appliances in the kitchen and bathroom. Such a step up from what I have now! My current place is so run-down and dingy that it makes my new studio look like heaven on earth. Oh, and the heat actually works! No more space heater!

As promised here are the photos. Because it was almost completely dark by the time I got to my new studio for the inspection, the photos didn't come out as bright as I had hoped even with the flash. Oh well, these will do for now!

This photo is taken from the far wall of the main room. If you go straight from this vantage point, you'll enter the walk-in closet. If you turn to the right from this perspective, you'll see the large window at the other end of the main room.

Bonus closet right across from the front door.
Main room: This is taken from the wall with the large window. The kitchen is on the right, out of frame. The second photo of the main room is taken from the wall shown in the first main room photo.

Closet: When you enter the walk-in closet, this is what you see.
It comes with hooks!
Bathroom: Upon entering the walk-in closet, the clothing rod (in photo above) is on the left, out of frame in this picture. These shelves on the right are opposite the clothing rod. In the second photo you can see the blue tile. It is not as ugly as I remember it. But I'm still not quite sure how I will decorate this bathroom!
How great are these shelves? Right?!
Help! I don't know what colors accent this gray/blue tile.
Kitchen: This kitchen makes me so happy. New stove, new counter, new fridge. I'm in heaven.

Look at that brand new refrigerator!
A gas stove - yay!