Tagged: advice

From 18-24: The Horrors of Renting

When I was around 17-18 years old, I started really planning my first apartment. I mean, I would spend hours upon hours looking at PB Teen catalogs (first red flag) creating an online shopping list, just daydreaming about how wonderful it would be to live on my own. By “on my own”, I mean with my boyfriend and 1-2 other roommates- I made a hair over minimum wage how the heck was I going to afford rent? (Second red flag). All logic and reasoning aside, it was going to be great.

Fast forward to my first apartment. We moved into an apartment complex with questionable colored carpet and no central air. (Let me give you some background info here and say that then men in my life do not fare well without central air.) We hauled in our belongings; donated furniture and a box of dishes/pots from good ole Walmart. Sorry, PB Teen. You just weren’t in the budget. We fought about how to arrange the furniture for awhile and then sat in the glory that was our first apartment. I think it took all of 5 minutes for the first “I’m bored”. We didn’t have an appointment to get cable set up until the following week, apparently we weren’t all that into drinking (our roommate was 21 at the time, so by all means, we could’ve played Circle of Death or something) and after paying first month’s this and that, we surely didn’t have any money for anything else. So, the boys played video games and the girls power-read through the entire Twilight series. All 4 books, one week. It was amazing and traumatizing all at the same time. (Team Edward4Lyfe.)

We lived in that apartment, eating ramen noodles and perogies; so many perogies; for two years before I finally got sick of the doors that wouldn’t shut, the landlord that was probably plotting to kidnap me and the neighbors downstairs that argued like it was their job. I don’t think they stopped yelling for two years. So, we moved out of our once beloved apartment with the same shitty belongings we moved into it with. We hadn’t exactly moved up in the world as far as careers go; I was still working retail, he was delivering pizza.

Our next move was into his cousin’s house. We crammed all our belongings into a teeny, tiny bedroom in her trailer. Now, there is nothing wrong with trailers. I grew up in one most of my life; however, whoever first designed them decided that whoever lives in the second bedroom is likely a toddler that will never age. I mean, once we put our modest-sized bed in the room, that was it. Forget nightstands or desks, or even a TV stand. We had a bed. Looking back, I think that house promoted a general lifestyle of laziness for us, but was it really our fault? Our bed was our couch, and our couch was our bed. It just screamed, “Lay down! Relax awhile!” *4 hours later- still there.*

It didn’t take long for that to get old. At this point, my boyfriend had been studying to get his CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and had passed his test. He had been job hunting for roughly a month or so before he interviewed for his current company. (I feel like it is pertinent to point out that I was a Junior in college at this time, not just selling clothes at the mall). A real job with an actual paycheck meant looking for our very own first apartment by ourselves! No roommates! No hand-me-down furniture! DISHES MADE OF GLASS NOT PLASTIC!!! At 21 (me) and 23 (him) we were finally in our first place that felt like home. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, matching furniture… ahhh, it was fantastic.

For the first year.

And the second.

Then there was the third and it was like, “eh, I’d like a house that doesn’t have a shared wall with other people”. Duplexes are a failed idea, just saying.

Now we’re set to begin year four if we renew our lease in February. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my house. It’s taken this long to get it decorated and set up how I’d like, and it’s still a work in progress. We still have the same shitty metal bed frame that was given to us 6 years ago, a broken dresser, (p.s. apparently I did bring hand-me-down furniture into this place. oops!), a plastic 3-drawer bin thingy as a makeshift end-table, etc. You get the point. We aren’t quite full blown adults yet, basically. Being a full blown adult is way more expensive than I had originally thought, so groceries and car inspections and life just generally get put higher on the priority list than my online shopping cart at Ikea. It may not be the grossness that was my first apartment, but I’m still ready to move on. I want the house on property with a finished basement and a wrap-around porch.

So now I’ve moved onto the world of mortgage rates, down payments, PMI, school districts and property taxes. But that’s likely all the moving I’ll be doing in awhile.

As it turns out, buying a house is even more of an annoyance than renting.

Figures.

 

Xo,

A

 

 

The Struggle: Narrated by the Lyrics of Taylor Swift

Baby, I know places we won’t be found, and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down. Cause I know places we can hide. -Taylor Swift “I Know Places”

I might be over-interpreting here, but I think Taylor Swift wants us to run away from our adult responsibilities. I mean… seems pretty clear to me. Excuse me while I pack up my office and high-tail it out of the world of time sheets and alarm clocks. 🙂

Seriously though, am I the only one that likes their job but in the same respect wants to turn in their grown up card for a good session of binge-watching Law & Order? (SVU, of course. In case you were wondering). It’s like a completely equal mix of “this isn’t that bad! What a fulfilling work day” and “Oh my god, I have to do this EVERY DAY? Until I’m in my 60’s?” It’s a bummer to go back and forth between half glass full on Monday and “half-full, half-empty… who cares, just add vodka” by Wednesday. I know that in a way, this is completely normal. I mean, no one loves the monotony that is adulthood all the time. Have you ever heard someone be like, “well, yes, I would LOVE to do that super annoying task that is not in my job description. In fact- I’ll do it for FREE! Just for kicks!” No. No you haven’t. (If you have- don’t trust that person. If YOU’RE that person… none of your co-workers like you. Sorry, but it’s true). On the flip side, though, it kind of sucks. Is this life post-college? Work is ok, then it sucks, then it’s the weekend (whoo!), then work is ok, then it sucks…

You know that saying, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”? Bullshit. I’m pretty sure even Taylor Swift, the multi-millionaire, award-winning, owns a house in every country, megastar isn’t all “I LOVE THIS!!!” all of the time. Yet, somehow, there’s still this pressure that you have to put on this act that your job/life is just completely blissful 24/7 or it just wasn’t “worth it”. I’ve had many instances where I’ve said something like “man, what a crazy day. I had to insert sucky thing here” and I’ll get some kind of response akin to “well, YOU picked that major” or “told ya not to go into social work”. Well geez, that escalated quickly. I said a portion of my day sucked, not that I wanted to flip my desk and set my degree on fire. I think it’s kind of a grown up rite of passage that we are allotted a certain amount of bitching; like how kids get to complain that they’re “bored” all the time.

Back to obsessively listening to Taylor’s new CD. Some things never change, no matter your age. 😉

xo,

A

There’s Nothing Special About Today

sunshine

Today is an ordinary day. I woke up, tired still and not quite ready to face the rest of the world. I am going into work later than usual today, so I drink my coffee and watch talk shows. I peruse on Pinterest. I read the news. I am content here on my couch. Soon, I will get ready for work like I do every day; albeit, with a bit more enthusiasm as it is no longer dark outside. I will go to my office and stare at the paperwork mountain on my desk, the motivational quotes on the walls. I will work with youth; we will discuss domestic violence prevention today. We will listen to stories of battered women, scared children, families affected by violence. We will talk about what we can do to curb violence. I will come home and wipe off my kitchen counters. I will throw a load of laundry in. Maybe I will paint. Maybe I will stay up late reading because tomorrow is Friday.

No, there is nothing special about today. I’ve lived this day many days before, in fact. Slight changes, of course, maybe I had tea instead of coffee. Maybe I took kids on a college tour, or listened to someones story of their multiple foster homes. But this day is familiar to me. It is comfortable, even, like a favorite sweater on a chilly day. This day is mine, this life is mine. This is what I have created for myself.

 

I will love it, all of it, for that reason. This life is my sunshine.

 

xo,

A

Rose Colored Glasses

When you look at your life, what do you see? Is it the life you had planned for yourself? Is it more? It is less?

How do you evaluate something so multifaceted? Is there a checklist to determine if you’ve done a good job or if you’re still a work in progress? I know that in a way, we are all a “work in progress”; a never-ending project with tweaks to make here and there. There are potential improvements, of course. A friendship that needs a little mending, a job that could be better. There are always things we could “fix”. We are a nation of fixers. We want to take everything, every little thing, and morph into what it “should be”.

Expectations versus reality: how do your plans match up with your actuality? Do you recognize the person you see in the mirror? Are you happy with your list of accomplishments? What would you do different if given the chance?

We all want to believe that this life, the one we have created for ourselves, this is it. This is what we wanted. We took so much time to construct it, after all. We took pieces and placed them side by side, one at a time, until we completed a puzzle that is supposed to be our masterpiece. The time, the doubt, the sacrifices; they were all worth it. Now we have it. We have succeeded.

But what if we haven’t?

xo,

A

Enough is Enough

Working with older youth, it’s common to discuss goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? What kind of education will you seek? What kind of career do you want? What is important to you?

Five years? They’ll say. I don’t know where I’ll live next month, let alone 5 years.

Ten years? They laugh.

Education? I don’t know. I want to make something of myself.

Career? I want to make good money. I want to provide for myself.

What’s important? Family. Happiness.

The answers are so vague, yet so clear. These kids want what we all want, I think. When it comes down to it, we all want to be loved. We all want to feel like we have succeeded in our accomplishments. Whatever path we take with school and work, we all just want to look back and say “I am happy”. Sure, we want the nice paycheck and a lavish home to go to after a long day at work, but that’s not what really matters. What matters is that when we lay down to bed at night, we can say that we are healthy, we are happy, we are grateful.

Sometimes life can seem overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what path to take. Sometimes it’s easier to take no path at all; to succumb to the “I can’t” attitude. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a gentle reminder that the every day subtleties; your morning cup of coffee, your favorite song on the radio, a night in with your family… those are enough.

This life is enough, even if you haven’t got it all figured out just yet.

xo,

A

An Overwhelming Notion

I’ve noticed that it’s seems to be increasingly trendy to be “busy”. Like, full-time job-plus-I-run-the-PTA-and-do-spin-classes busy. It’s as if everyone is competing with each other to figure out how is filling up their calendars more; “sorry, I can’t get coffee Thursday, I’m just soooooo busy”.

Pardon my lack of eloquent vocabulary, but, ugh. Why?! I understand that people generally tie their ideals of success and self-worth into their careers but why is your to-do list the main factor in determining those things? I feel like if I can accomplish what I need to accomplish in a shorter amount of time so I can proceed to binge watch Orange is The New Black, then I’m gonna do that. Whatever happened to “work smarter, not harder”? Of course, it’s not just work. Nope, now everyone has a slew of extracurricular activities that they just have to be involved in, too. There’s the gym, kids’ activities, errands, blogging (ok, guilty) and then after all that, it’s time to prepare the weeks’ meal list.

Puh-lease. When I get home from work, I want to peruse through Instagram and eat whatever cooks the fastest. Call me lazy, but hey, a girl’s got a right to some lounging! I don’t understand why people need an extremely busy schedule to feel adequate. Slow down. Appreciate the day that’s in front of you right now. Be aware of your blessings in this moment.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed to be valued. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hang out with my best pal, Netflix. 🙂

xo,

A

Are you really living life?

Hello, loves! It is a gorgeous Saturday here in Southwestern PA. Feet up, drinking coffee, blogging… this is the ideal life, huh? 🙂 The only thing that could make it better (besides a bottomless bank account to go shopping) is if I was on the beach.

Luckily for me… I will be in TWO WEEKS! That needed to be in all caps so you could understand just how much I need this vacation. I’m so excited to see a new part of the world (Florida!) and get away from life and responsibilities for awhile. I think everyone needs to take a vacation each year. I know, easier said than done; but even if it was a “staycation” (I used to do that when I was making 7.60/hr at Joanns- you weren’t gonna find me at the beach!) it’s good to just have time to decompress. I saw this post on Facebook the other day…

Are you really living life, or are you paying bills until you die?

How many of you just go to work to get that paycheck, only to pay it all out to bills? It’s a really repetitive lifestyle to make a student loan payment (that got you the job), make a car payment (to physically get to the job) to put gas in the car (to drive to the job) etc, etc. I understand that that’s life, I really do; however, there is SO MUCH MORE to it than that! I really think it’s about finding a balance. If you’re happiness is completely dependent on having enough money, spoiler alert: you will never be happy! Unless you strike it rich (and sometimes, even then) you won’t ever have “enough money”. Things always come up and throw our financial goals/plans off track; but don’t let it control your happiness.

Before I graduated college, I was driving a beat up Dodge Neon. I would sit around and look up cars for hours, trying to figure out what kind I would buy once I got my “real job”. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wouldn’t be able to comfortably afford a new car right after graduation. So, I *planned* to drive my Neon until it couldn’t drive anymore. Other than some cosmetic issues, it ran fine. That is, until a week after graduation when it broke down and needed a new engine. I had already begun my new job, but I hadn’t even gotten a paycheck yet! I had no money saved because I had just finished up my internship and wasn’t really working at my serving job. No job history, no down payment… I was freaking out. Luckily, I have good credit (I might say to live life to the fullest but if I have any financial advice for anyone it is this: MAINTAIN YOUR CREDIT!!! Seriously.) and I was able to finance a new car. I am soo in love with my car. I am not, however, in love with the payment, or the full coverage insurance payment. Prior to that whole fiasco, I had *planned* to double my student loan payment and pay it off in 5-6 years instead of 10 and THEN buy a shiny new car. Instead, when I got my first student loan payment, I crunched the numbers and immediately called and had my payment reduced.

My point is, things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, I think it’s safe to say they rarely do. You have to learn to roll with the punches, have a back-up plan and find that balance. Unfortunately, money is one of the most important things in our society. Don’t go run out and max out your credit cards and drain your savings because “life is short!” or “YOLO”. (For the love of all things holy don’t ever use YOLO as an explanation for something). Be smart, build a small little savings and breathe.

Oh, and take a vacation. Or a staycation. You deserve it.

My views today

             My views today

 

My view in two weeks!

                My view in two weeks!

 

xo,

A

Just Keep Swimmin’

C'mon, it makes ya smile.

C’mon, it makes ya smile.

 

Everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows all of the time. Sometimes, plans don’t work out. Sometimes, you get thrown off track. Sometimes, you wonder what the heck you’re even trying to accomplish. Sometimes, you get placed out of your comfort zone. (If you’re me, that one would be always).

It’s easy to throw in the towel when things get difficult. It’s easy to give up on the idea of change when it gets overwhelming. What’s that saying? “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” That quote can really apply to whatever you are trying to accomplish; whether that be a weight loss goal, a lifestyle change, a career move, etc. I’m not going to lie, I have a very bad habit of quitting when things get uncomfortable. This is mostly because I frequently feel uncomfortable. Thank you, anxiety. In “normal” situations where everyone else is just going about their day, I’m silently freaking out. It’s a great time.

This weekend was a string of those “sometimes” for me. It sucks, but tomorrow is Monday and the start of a new week. I didn’t have the blissful weekend of reading and crafting like I had hoped and I had some things get me down… but that’s no excuse to give up on my goals. Don’t let one bad weekend turn into a bad week, a bad month or a bad life. Holding onto that sadness and bitterness is only hurting one person: yourself.

I would like to shed some positive light on things, though! Since I began posting again I have journaled more, gone to the gym more, done yoga more, drank more water and (for the most part) quit smoking. I have to, unfortunately, say “for the most part” because I probably smoked about 8-10 cigarettes since Thursday. I just have to keep on keepin on and work towards that goal, along with everything else I am striving for. According to my app, I have NOT smoked approximately 90 cigarettes. Progress, not perfection…

 

Here’s to a better Monday.

 

xo,

A

Another Motivational Quote

Change what you cannot accept.

 

I used to hate my job- so I finished college and began working in a field I love.

I used to hate my car- so I worked hard and bought a new one. (Yeah, yeah so the old one died but that’s not really the point.)

I used to hate being so thin- so I started working out and lifting weights to build muscle.

I used to hate being consumed by negative thoughts- so I read various articles & books on happiness (Check out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin) and changed my entire outlook on life!

I still hate being broke two days after getting paid- so I’m applying for second jobs.

I still don’t like that I use social media as a crutch when I’m bored- so I’m trying to find other hobbies.

I still don’t like a lot of things; some little, some big… I am a work in progress.

 

We are all just works in progress. There will always be something you aren’t 100% happy with; that doesn’t mean you lead an unhappy life. It just means that you don’t settle for mediocrity. If there’s something you don’t like it… change it! Set goals and crush them one a time.

Remember the cheesy yearbook saying that everyone would write? “You’re the best, never change!” You might want to reconsider. 😉 You can still be my BFF and I still LYLAS*, though.

 

-A

 

*If you don’t get this reference, you are too young to be reading this blog.

Poor Vs. Broke

poor

 

But, seriously. I’m sitting here sippin’ on my morning coffee, catching up on reality TV (Catfish gets me every time!) and going over my bills. I do this at some point every weekend of my pay week and man, it can be depressing! Student loans, car payment, rent, car insurance, cell phone bill- ughhhh. Remind me again why I went into social work?! Oh yeah, helping people. *Whoo*. Just kidding; I have no regrets when it comes to which field I chose to work in, but I’m not going to lie, it was definitely a slap in the face when I got my first pay check! I am not, actually, so naive as to really believe that I am “poor”. Sometimes I catch myself making my third “Ugh I can’t do that- I’m too poor” comment of the week day and wonder if people think that’s truly how I feel. To clarify, I live in a duplex that my boyfriend and I rent; which, minus the stampede of  neighbor children running up & down the steps, is very nice. I drive a new car. I have food in my fridge. (Probably lots of bad food right now because I suck at grocery shopping/cooking). I have clothes. I’m going on vacation in August. I might not be able to run out and buy a Michael Kors bag, but I’m not over here eating ramen noodles either. It’s easy to complain about all of the things we don’t have rather than concentrating on everything that we are blessed with. I think that we also get wrapped up in this age of social media where people are always posting about their material possessions. “Look at my new car!” “Well look at my new house!” “Check out this engagement ring!” “Look at all these things my boyfriend bought me!” “I just got a brand new robot!”

Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get my point. I also think that people my age just expect to have things handed them, or at least have the ability to obtain them easily. You have to WORK for what you want. I emphasize work because I think some twenty-somethings are allergic to that ideal and are confused why their bank accounts are empty. Hello people, I do WORK and my bank account is still empty. That probably isn’t the best way to motivate people now that I typed it out… but the point is, I’m paying my student loans, I’m making that car payment, I’m forking over $110 to Verizon every. single. month so I can scroll through Instagram. (Also depressing when typed out).
I may not be making it rain in the cash department right now, but I have worked for everything I have and I am proud of that. I’m only 24, I’ve got time!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go apply for second jobs. Gotta work hard to play hard!

 

xo,

A