Monday, September 23, 2013

Loan Payoff Fatigue

Ok, I admit it. I have loan payoff fatigue. I'm just tired. Tired of working two jobs, tired of seeing all of that money go to pay off debt, and tired of not being rid of it already!

Is this rational? No. Rationality says this is a great return on investment (ROI) and that I'll thank myself in the long run because I'll have paid less interest.

I've taken a one-way train to Plateau Point. Via.
But right now all I care about is how I had a great weekend with friends and that I felt free. I want that feeling to continue, but today it is back to the 9-5 grind and a restaurant shift after that.

Sometimes on days like these I just need a little motivation. What would really help is if the person interested in buying my car would commit to buying. It would also help if I have a great shift at the restaurant tonight. Finally, it would help if this weekend the community yard sale I'm participating in helps me make even MORE money to put towards my loans.

But I'm not going to get all of these things this moment, so I might as well just keep repeating "patience is a virtue" until I can't repeat it anymore!

What do you do when you feel like you've hit a plateau on one of your goals?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 9/20/13 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: The Everyday Minimalists wonders what you would take with you if your house was on fire. It makes you think about what objects are really essential in your life.

Best Financial: All you need to know about managing your finances on one notecard. Via the Washington Post. I'd modify a few things, but in general this is a great guide.

Best DIY: The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas, but if decorating for every season is your thing, you might find this wreath tutorial fun! Via Honey We're Home.
Best Before & After: I want an old piano I can paint! Via Better After.

Best Random: This post at Apartment Therapy reminded me of my neighbor's house growing up. One of the upstairs bedrooms had a closet with a trap door that led to a crawl space. It was our favorite hideout!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finished Bedroom?

The curtains for my large window came in the mail a few days ago, which means that I am essentially done with my bedroom decorating!

Well, I'm probably not done, exactly. But, for the time being I don't see any improvements that need to be done to this space. When I last posted about my bedroom updates, there were no curtains:

And here is the bedroom with the new curtains:

A close-up of said curtains (from Anthropologie):

Yes, my wall paint is chipping. I need to remember to call maintenance about that. The downside is that the curtains are not the most well-made, but I was going for the look more than anything so am not too disappointed. I think they fit in nicely with the overall decor. And the room feels so fresh!!

And now it is flashback time! When I first moved in 10 months ago, my bedroom looked like this:

And here it is now:

I love the changes and am happy that I made the improvements slowly along the way. This spread out the cost and also allowed me to explore lots of different options.

What do you think, good changes?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Recycling With Friends

This weekend I'm taking a trip to visit a friend in the Midwest. In an earlier post on this blog about minimizing waste and reducing/reusing/recyling, this friend commented that she would love to have random containers that I would otherwise recycle. This is because she happens to be an elementary art teacher! Remember art class in grade school? If your school was like mine, the art teacher had a massive cache of random objects that you could use to make or decorate anything.

So, Nicole, my lovely art-teacher friend, here's a preview of what I am bringing to you this weekend! Get excited:
If you have an art-teacher friend, consider giving them your unwanted containers and used bottles. They'll likely find some way to use the items!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Best of the Blogosphere: 9/13/13 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: When I was 7 years old, I thought using as many skincare products, like Noxema and Clearasil, was great for my skin. I should have followed this minimalist skincare advice from The Everyday Minimalist back then! Maybe I wouldn't have had such bad acne.

Best Financial: Another post making the case for libraries! They are awesome. Via Get Rich Slowly.

Best DIY: So many good ideas for making your own camera strap, via Apartment Therapy.
Best Before & After: I'm really digging the first remodel in this post. What a great, nautical-themed side table! Via Better After.

Best Random: Ever wonder what all those laundry symbols on your clothes tags mean? Check out ilovecharts for a nifty guide.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Desk Organization

You may recall an earlier post where I experimented with the layout of the desk and table in the dining room area of my apartment. Well, I fiddled with it again over the weekend. But this time, I decided I needed to attack the issue of the desk being too cluttered! With the help of a few desk organizers found on the cheap at TJ Maxx and a few small DIY's, I now have an organized desk!

Here is the reversed layout that I experimented with. You'll note the desk full of stuff!

And here it is now:

Here's what I did to get to this point:

  • Moved the corner shelf to the bathroom, creating more room in this area of the apartment.
  • Put the printer/scanner in the closet as I rarely use it anyway.
  • Stored most of the items on the corner shelf elsewhere.
  • Finally framed my grad school diploma!
  • Downsized to one magazine filer and pen/pencil holder on the desk (bought on the cheap at TJ Maxx).
  • Found a sweet deal on the globe, again at TJ Maxx. This black globe compliments my other globes as well!
  • DIY'ed a crappy cardboard box with no lid into a catch-all for the desk. I used some leftover black and white patterned fabric and a hot glue gun!
  • A closer Before & After of the desk:

    The cute globe!
    Much better!

    It feels so good to have a functional desk!
    The next step in this room is to figure out what to do with the blank walls. I'll get there!

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Bursts of Yellow

    The bedroom is coming together! I added in a few touches of pale yellow to the teal and black combination, and I think it rounds out the room quite nicely. All I'm waiting on now is the arrival of my new curtains and I think the bedroom will be done! Here is the before:

    And here is the bedroom now:

    The pillow is from TJ Maxx and the flowers are my bridesmaid's bouquet from my cousin's wedding a few years ago.
    What do you think about the additions of yellow? Good or bad?

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Best of the Blogosphere: 9/6/13 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: Sending kids back to school? See what Unclutter has to say about organizing your lives around their new schedules.

    Best Financial: Not your typical financial post from Get Rich Slowly, but I find that it rings true. The more I have decluttered my life, the better my life (and finances) have become.

    Best DIY: Apartment Therapy features some great ideas for sprucing up your open shelves.
    Best Before & After: Remember card catologues? Design Sponge renovates one that turns out to be a wow piece for any room!

    Best Random: Ever wonder how safe your cosmetics are? Check out the EWG Skin Deep Database.This has been truly eye-opening!

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Fall Goals

    I always think of summer being over once the Labor Day holiday has come and gone, so it is time to reflect on where I am with my end of summer goals.

    1) Sell Stuff
    I did pretty well here! I sold my old computer for $100 and an extra wireless mouse for $25. I didn’t successfully sell my old curtains (probably going to Freecycle those) and I also didn’t sell some collectors items on eBay. BUT - I’m going to donate some of those items to a charity auction, so they’ll be leaving my apartment soon.

    2) Donate Stuff
    I did mostly well here again. I donated two bags of clothes to, but I haven’t yet figured out what to do with some household items (probably going to Freecycle here again).

    3) New Curtains
    Did not accomplish this. See fall goal number one!

    Goals for Fall

    1) New Curtains
    Since this didn’t get done in the summer, it is number 1 on my to-do list for the fall. I’ve narrowed down my choices, so this one shouldn’t be too hard!

    2) Get started on making Christmas gifts
    If I don’t start making gits in the fall, I will feel so rushed by the time December rolls around! I can do some of the crocheting early, but some of the baking will have to wait until December, obviously.

    3) Re-arrange the dining area
    I have some ideas about what to do with the dining room area, which might include moving the desk again and finding a different spot for the corner shelf next to the desk. I also might go with a smaller, collapsible dining table to maximize space.

    4) Frame Photos 
    I took some great photos on my European vacation this summer, so I want to get some of those printed and framed. Ideally, I’d hang these in my newly-designed dining area, so really goal 3 and 4 go together!

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    The Fruits of My Labor

    Happy Labor Day, fellow Americans! I’m enjoying the long weekend away with family, but before I left, I wanted to take stalk of the “fruits of my labor” so far this year. You may remember that I set some lofty goals for 2013. Some I have met, some I have not. Such is life. For example, I don’t use the gym in my building right now. Why? Because it is summer and I exercise outdoors. But, I have knocked my debt way down more than I thought possible in nine months! Let’s take a closer look:


    • Started the year hovering around $21,000 in debt.

    Now: $6,800
    My labors: Long hours working two jobs and strict adherence to my budget.
    Results: Contributed almost $6,000 in income from waitressing to this debt while also sending $350 a month from my day-job paycheck. I also threw any other “found” money, such as income from selling unneeded items.


    • Started the year with around $16,000 combined in my Roth IRA and 403b.

    Now: $24,000
    My labors: Researched better Roth IRA options and made the decision to move to Vanguard. Also moved my work account to Fidelity.
    Results: Due to lower expense ratios and a great company match, my money has worked harder for me, which has allowed me to increase my retirement accounts by $8,000 in only nine months.


    • Started the year promising to do a Warrior Dash, do yoga twice a week, and use the gym in my building once a week.

    Now: Committed to yoga twice a week and walking to or from work daily.
    My labors: I had every intent to run the Warrior Dash, but an injury prevented me from doing so. I haven’t used the gym in my building since the weather became nice enough to run or walk outside.
    Results: Feeling better, physically and emotionally, from getting more exercise. No obvious change in weight - perhaps more muscle tone.

    DIY Goals:

    • Started the year vowing to learn the guitar, blog regularly, and work on home projects.

    Now: All are in progress and going nicely!
    My labors: Stayed committed to blogging, even if it meant setting aside a half hour each day to do a little writing. I also spent most of the cold winter months indoors learning basic guitar. Put in lots of time deciding how I wanted to decorate my apartment, and how to do so without breaking the budget.
    Results: I’ve blogged regularly, learned about seven songs on the guitar, and slowly transformed my studio into a place I love to call home!

    Overall, my labors have gotten me very far this year! And now on this day of rest I won’t be concentrating on any of it!