On The Importance of Setting Goals for Your Money


All my life I’ve been a spender. Whether it was money gifted to me on special occasions, money I earned by sweating my teenage summer away at a day camp, or in recent years, money I’ve earned by working full time – my income hasn’t typically stretched as far as I’d like it to. Payday was a great excuse to go thrift shopping, weekends were spent perusing the latest fast fashion, and things that looked mediocre on the rack gained appeal simply because they were available and I could buy them.

In recent years, I went shopping because suddenly, living in my own space, I knew I could buy what I wanted without it being thrown away behind my back. Shopping became synonymous with freedom and control. In earlier years, shopping was a way to recharge after a busy week at school, an quick confidence boost on a hanger, and an adrenaline rush. It was a way to socialize with my friends, and it is a common interest between my mom and I when we hang out.

But also, shopping is spending. Spending is not saving. Not saving means fewer funds for bigger and more enriching purchases, such as a home or a vacation, for an emergency fund, and for financial security. When I was spending money like water, I wasn’t thinking about its implications and what letting that money go on trivial things meant in the long term. Looking back at the percentage of my income I have traded for garments that I don’t like or wear anymore and items that collect dust in my apartment fills me with such a swell of “what if?”

What if I had saved that money? What if it had always been my nature to be more of a saver than a spender? Would I have enough to put a down payment on a home? Would I be able to take several weeks off to travel around Europe the way I would love to? Maybe. I definitely would’ve been several thousand dollars closer than I am now, if everything else had stayed the same.

This brings me to the purpose of this blog post: it’s important to have a goal in mind for your money in order to save it rather than spend it. If you feel like money burns a hole in your pocket (like it has with me), if you feel like the week passes and you have no idea where your money went, or if you look into your bank account and see tumbleweeds instead of numbers, you may not be budgeting and planning as well as you could be. That’s okay though – we all have to start somewhere. Maybe you want to get out of debt, or take a vacation. Perhaps you’d like to purchase a home, or save for school. Or maybe you’re just sick of scrounging until the next paycheck comes in, and you’d like to have greater financial security in your day to day life. Having a goal for your money and sticking to it can help turn these dreams and goals into actions and plans.

My goal is to buy an apartment in the city. Upon doing research, I learned that you don’t have to be a millionaire, a doctor, or earn huge sums on money in order to attain this goal. Not every apartment costs seven figures, and there are many that sit below $400,000. This is hardly chump change, but it’s also not as unattainable as the million dollar apartments that are emblazoned on billboards, spammed in emails, and the first to appear on apartment search engine results. This is encouraging because even though it seems out of reach now, it’s attainable enough to inspire me to keep a closer watch on my unnecessary spending, and maybe skip the thrift shops, the trinkets, and the outfits I’d be tired of in a month.

What are your goals for your money?

Happiness Is… (A Poem)


Happiness is purple lipstick, and a black Easter hat with a pink feather along the brim

and reading Judith Viorst in the midst of uncertainty 

and pressing my face into my boyfriend’s cheeks

and this bejeweled candelabra from the Halloween section that decorates the dining table

and being an Aquarius

and having aqua blue dining chairs, turquoise mirrors, and pink walls, because fuck a neutral color palette

and Sunday morning for coffee and quiet

and no roaches in the New York apartment

and smelling the Christmas pine tree candle

and an electric bill that reads “$27” – and there were no sacrifices, it was just winter

and a butter dish with silly farm animals painted on it for two dollars at the Goodwill

and not fainting over the credit card bill

and pink flowers on a turquoise background

and making a sale on Poshmark

and decluttering this godforsaken space

and how good 2008 really was, if only I hadn’t been so miserable

and the unobstructed night sky

and laughing until three in the morning 

and the fake pink flowers that look real and require no effort on my desk

and the greeting card that says “today is a brand-new day… don’t F it up”

and, yes, even shopping with my mother

and strawberry cream cheese

and cute shit at the $.99 store

and not buying said cute shit, but saving the money

and listening to my favorite personal finance podcast on the way to work

and feeling inspired 

and having time and energy to engage with the inspiration 

and sparrows as they hop around

and dog butts

and cat faces

and cat butts

and

and

and…

I Need Your Input!

Hi everyone!

I need your input. You may have noticed that I’ve been absent from this blog for several months now, and I’ve explained in a previous entry or two what’s been capturing my attention in my free time lately: fashion and selling clothing online (particularly via Poshmark). Going a step further, I’ve been thinking about several themes quite often lately, which include style, personal finance (in a fun way), and creating a space and life to be joyous in.

This leads me to you, and this blog entry.

I’d like to shake up this blog a bit. This started as a book blog, and then evolved to include writing, too. Although both reading and writing are still very important aspects of my life, there’s so much more I would love to write about that would keep me coming back and remaining active in blog-land. Specifically, I’d like to write more about personal finance (as I can relate to it as a 20-something working to get ahead in an expensive city on a budget), fashion (especially thrift shopping and personal style) and what I’m learning and creating in my first apartment (which I’ve been writing and photographing for almost a year now in this blog).

I’d still like to write about the books I read and my tips and suggestions for writing, as I’ve been doing. The only adjustment I’d like to make is the frequency of these posts so they better reflect what’s going on in my life. I’m thinking 25% books and writing, 25% budgeting, 25% fashion, and 25% apartment life.

How does this sound to you? Let me know in the comments section! I’m ready to hit the ground running. 🙂

 

Book Titles For Book Worms With Bug Infested Homes (A Pun-Filled Parody)


Ever feel that you’ve been called a book worm one too many times and, as a result, bugs think it’s open season to come live in your apartment – you know, since they’d be living among their own wormy kind? If so, this entry is for you. Since I’ve been trying to obliterate my apartment of bugs to little avail, I’ve renamed and pun-ified a bunch of well-known book titles to suit the buggy situation – partly because it seemed like an original idea, but mainly to entertain myself during this unsettling experience. So sit back and get ready to squirm (if not from the thought of bugs, then definitely from how cheesy some of these titles are).

Book Titles For Book Worms Who Live In Bug-Infested Homes

For Renters Who Have Considered Pesticides/When the Combat Isn’t Enough (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf)

The Catcher and the Fly (The Catcher and the Rye)

NorthANTger Trappy (Northanger Abbey)

American Psychroach (American Psycho)

The Mite Stunner (The Kite Runner)

The Fly Who Came In From the Cold (The Spy Who Came In From the Cold)

Cried and Sick-Of-This (Pride and Prejudice)

Defeat, Prey, Lovebug (Eat, Pray, Love)

Bugs Fly-eth on the Renter’s Front (All’s Quiet on the Western Front)

Infinite Pest (Infinite Jest)

Impale With Fire (Pale Fire)

The Horde of the Stings (The Lord of the Rings)

To Cull a Mocking Herd (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Hovering Bites (Wuthering Heights)

The Caulk In Our Jars (The Fault In Our Stars)

Foam-eo in Kitchenette (Romeo and Juliet) 

Reauch (Maus)

The Jerks Are Eating the Wallpaper (The Perks of Being A Wallflower)

A Flea Grows In Cushion (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn)

Me Call Landlord One Day (Me Talk Pretty One Day)

What bug-titled books infest your shelves?

The Slumpiest of Reading Slumps

Unless you’re a supernatural wizard, if you’re an avid reader then  you’ve probably gone through a reading slump at some point in your life. It’s a time when no force in nature can keep your brain focused on the story in front of you. Books become lumps of paper that collect dust, and anything written beyond page two catches a chill from abandonment. There are a handful of reasons why people experience reading slumps. Mine can be traced back to one single event.

It was a cold and rainy night. I was indoors, ignoring the movie that was playing on the television and instead browsing through the App store on my phone when I encountered the beast: Poshmark. It’s the app that allows women to clear out their closets by selling their unwanted clothes and accessories to other women all over the United States. It looks like Instagram, requires very little personal information, and is as easy as snapping a couple of pictures, writing a brief description, naming a price, and then BOOM! You’re in business.

And so I’ve been in business (if you could call it that) and away from reading for approximately two months now. Two months without a single page being turned on my account, nor a chapter consumed, nor a title to add to my list of books completed. I would like to get back into reading again, though, since I’ve been feeling the discomfort of its absence from my life. My bookcase has been looking at me longingly, and I’ve been making eyes at it in return. Where to begin? I’m not sure yet, but I wanted to tell you why my blog has been a tumbleweed zone lately.

More to come soon!

10 Dos and Don’ts When Moving Into Your First Apartment

1459181982464-1

You’ve inked your name on the lease and those golden keys are finally in your hands. Signed, sealed, delivered – you have a home! Now what? As someone who tends to learn life’s lessons the hard way, I’m compiling a list of lessons I’ve learned in the first few months of renting my first apartment. On its best day, your apartment will be your oasis where your decor looks like a Pinterest-y dreamscape and you wake up feeling like Snow White in a magical forest. On its worst day, your apartment will be that dreaded slab of concrete or dry wall where half of your stuff is in shambles and the other half can only be mentioned when paired with curse words, grumbling, and looks of psychotic rage. And so to save you some time, money, and strange looks from people around you, here are:

10 Dos and Don’ts When Moving Into Your First Apartment
(a.k.a – Lessons Learned the Hard Way)

Do: Plan your move as far ahead in advance as possible and save up for deposits, security fees, moving expenses, and furniture.
Don’t: Wait to start your moving fund until the week before your move-in date so you’re left scouring the streets for fallen dollar bills. Once the moving fees start rolling in it’ll feel like you’ve pulled the plug on your bank account and are watching your funds gurgle down the drain. Truthfully, it’ll probably feel like this regardless of when you start saving, but the goal is to create as much of a financial cushion as possible so it’s less painful to spend several hundred to several thousand dollars on moving expenses.

Do: Put thought into how you want your apartment to look. As I had discussed in my previous blog entry, be sure to brainstorm color schemes, themes, styles, and pieces of furniture you will want in your new home.
Don’t: Rush into big and costly (or cheap-o) decisions just to get your apartment set up as quickly as possible. Initially, this is what I did, and I’ve  regretted many of my oatmeal-colored decisions afterwards. Respect your time and money and give thought to what you want to buy and bring home with you.

Do: Be true to your style and aesthetic when decorating or designing your new home. Let your freak flag fly flamboyantly, or keep it ironed and pressed neatly inside your drawer – whichever suits you better.
Don’t: Feel as though you need to follow every white-furnished-and-walled, earthy-accented trend you see on Pinterest or Tumblr, unless you truly want to. If that’s your aesthetic then by all means go for it, but don’t be afraid to branch out and live in an apartment that reflects who you are. Even though we are living in the age of sharing everything with everyone, you are still allowed to create a space that only you would be happy to live in.

Do: Splurge on quality items that you want to keep for years to come, such as your mattress, bed, and sofa.
Don’t: Think that you need to spend top dollar on home accessories and accents in order to have nice things or to get the look you want to achieve (unless you’re searching for antiques – those can be more difficult to find at lower prices). You can find ways to save on smaller accoutrements by hitting up your local thrift shops and outlet stores, getting DIY-crafty, and letting friends and family know you’re on the hunt for decor.

Do: Visit brick and mortar furniture stores when buying major pieces, such as dining sets, beds, large area rugs, etc. By doing this, you will know how the item looks in person and how it’s made before spending your money.
Don’t: Buy furniture online before reading the company’s return policy. I have recently purchased approximately three pieces of furniture from online furniture stores and have either had to return, exchange, or work with terrible  customer service for each of these  three items due to damages, defects, poor quality, or the item not arriving as shown in the picture or description. Save yourself the time, money, and frustration – shop in person!

Do: Have a purge-fest before you make the big move to avoid incurring unnecessary moving costs and to make space in your new apartment.
Don’t: Half-ass the purge and spend the next few months living among boxes of things you’ll end up selling, donating, or getting rid of anyway. Again, respect your time, money, and back muscles.

Do: Create and stick to a budget! This should probably be the first tip on the list, but I’m assuming you’re probably well-aware of this if you’re apartment hunting or moving in to your first place.
Don’t: Spend money like it’s going out of style and as a result have nothing left to pay your bills. Those shoes may be cute and those books may be calling your name, but knowing that you can maintain a roof over your head is a much better feeling. It provides a basic sense of security, which is a fundamental human need. I’m planning to write a blog entry about personal budgeting at a later date because it’s a topic I’m highly interested in and have had personal experience doing, but in short – savings and bills first, fun and frivolous purchases later**.
**Side note – I understand that this may be difficult to adhere to at first. You’re looking at a girl who signed the lease on her first apartment and then promptly purchased a $32 eye shadow (yes, one lone eye shadow) to celebrate. It’s possible, though, and if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

Do: Set deadlines for small and large tasks, such as painting, setting up your book cases, laying down kitchen tiles, etc.
Don’t: Settle for “later” or “maybe next month” because, as I’m sure you already know, that day can take forever to come and slowly creep to the bottom of your to-do list. Set definite dates, make a list of everything you will need to complete each task, and create a timeline and/or schedule to tackle each task. You’ll thank yourself once you see your home come together and the mountain of boxes shrink.

Do: Ask your landlord or property manager questions before signing the lease! How is the roach and vermin situation? Do the heat and hot water work properly? Are there any leaks or concerns you should be aware of? And of course, keep your eyes open and report issues as soon you discover them.
Don’t: Assume that issues with the apartment will work themselves out or be disclosed without prompting. Landlords and property managers want to rent out their apartments as quickly as possible, so it’s up to you to be sure it’s in a condition you’re comfortable living in.

Do: Get a sense of the neighborhood you’ll be living in beforehand. Do you feel safe, comfortable, and at home in the environment? Does it have the amenities you need, such as a local grocery store if you don’t have a car? Comfort is key! There’s nothing quite like coming home and feeling at ease when you get to your neighborhood.
Don’t: Pick an apartment just based on the apartment unit itself. Yes, it may be spacious, beautiful, and better than you had imagined for the price, but remember the other factors you’ll be encountering in addition to the apartment. There are your neighbors, the surrounding neighborhood, transit options, building amenities, and crime rates, just to name a few. These factors will influence whether you will have a quality of life versus a quality of strife – and me thinks you’ll want the former!

Are you looking to move into your first apartment? Have you already moved into your first home and have tips to share? Leave your responses in the comments section below! 🙂

 

On Creating Your Own Space, and The KonMari Method

Greetings inspiration junkies! Ever have a mental block about something that you really want to get done, but for the life of you, you  either:

a) feel overwhelmed by the possibilities in front of you, or

b) don’t know where to begin?

That’s how I had felt in terms of decorating since I first moved into my apartment several months ago. While living at my mother’s place, I had magical home decor ideas ranging from a Moroccan-inspired lounge to a colorful dreamscape reminiscent of Iris Apfel. Once I finally got my own space, however, it was time to pop the big question(s):

What color palette would I go with?
What style of furniture would I buy?
How much was I willing and able to spend on different items?
What styles could I mix and match while maintaining a cohesive space?

In other words – what kind of space did I want to live in? After uncharacteristically purchasing a couch, a bed, and a comforter set in oatmeal-cream colors (which reflected the indecisiveness I was feeling) I became stuck – unsure which direction to go in – and so I stopped dead in my tracks. My to-do list collected dust and my to-buy list sat on my empty, book-less bookshelf. That is, until I picked up a copy of Spark Joy by Marie Kondo while browsing around in Target one Sunday afternoon. I had read her first book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up at the airport while waiting for a flight last year, but hadn’t thought much of it at the time since I didn’t yet have a space to call my own. Now since that circumstance has changed fortunately, I decided to pick up Spark Joy in the hopes of finding inspiration to move forward once again in making my apartment a home.

Seventy-five pages in, and I already feel not only a surge of inspiration, but an immense call to action.Not even halfway through the book, and I feel invigorated by Kondo’s joy-centered philosophy that suggests you only keep and properly store items that spark joy, and you either donate or discard the rest. I recently read the section where she discusses the importance of creating a space with items that bring you joy, regardless of how silly they may seem, or whether they match your entire home. This can be something of a shrine to this one particular item or interest – which in my case is crafting and travel mementos.

With this newfound inspiration and motivation, I broke the shell of indecision that has been stifling me since December. I stopped adding neutral furniture to my Quaker-Oats-looking apartment and began creating and adding pieces that reflect who I am. One of my favorite pieces that I put together so far is my crafting caravan, which you can see in the picture above. Filled with turquoise, yellow, pink, and copper accents – not to mention my crafting supplies – reminds me of my appreciation for color and the joy it adds to a room. Whenever I look at it I am reminded of what I love and the kind of space I want to live in. And so, with that in mind, let’s look at my previous photo journal of my first apartment as a small bump in the road as I edit and recreate this little corner of the world I inhabit.

Stay tuned and subscribe for an updated photo journal in the next couple of weeks, and of course, seek inspiration and motivation!

Happy Friday everyone!