Confession: whenever someone signs up for my email list and fills out that quick little survey (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go sign up and fill it out for me! ;) ) I always read the responses. ALWAYS. I love hearing what’s on your mind, what’s stressing you out about finances, and what you’d like me to write about.
But here’s the thing… I usually add those post ideas to my running list of topics and then promptly forget to ever write about it. Oops.
Sooo today, I’m finally going to tackle one of the questions:
How can you save money when you live on your own?
Now: to clarify, I’m not sure if this is referring to just living somewhere other than your parents house, or completely SOLO. I’ve never done the completely solo thing (the DC area is NOT cost-effective for living completely solo, haha, and now I have this cute man roommate that I kiiiiinda like living with) but I will give you some tips on cutting costs in both situations!
First things first: don’t be house (or apartment) poor.
For those of you in the market or who will be soon, this is an important first point to remember: rent something CHEAPER THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN AFFORD. I know, I know, it’s easy to see that super fancy apartment and immediately fall in love. You say, “yeah, I can afford that. I mean, I can’t right now, but I’m sure I can cut a few lattes and I’ll be able to make rent each month! well, almost.” and you sign your life away to a lease that’s far too expensive and you have zero dollars to do anything besides sit in your apartment that you can barely afford.
Don’t do that. Come up with a realistic budget for yourself (oh hey, need help with that? I gotcha covered…) and stick to that when apartment hunting.
Oh, and if you’re getting a roommate(s), be sure to agree BEFOREHAND on your price range/location/etc.
Again, it’s easy for you to both fall in love with something and suddenly you sign your life away to a place you can’t afford. Or, it’s easy for your future roomie to fall in love with something expensive and you to be guilted into going along with it. No bueno, chica.
(this is an Ikea showroom… NOT my own house)
Delete Pinterest and all other forms of social media while decorating your new home.
This is half joking, half totally serious. STAHHPPPPPP looking at those perfectly decorated apartments on Pinterest. It will do you exactly ZERO GOOD to compare yourself to these insanely gorgeous homes. Listen to me: you don’t need perfectly matching chevron throw pillows (is chevron still a thing? I still like it but I feel like it kinda faded from the spotlight) and hand-knit curtains and that perfect tufted duvet cover from West Elm (guilty) to make your new apartment a “home”. All that matters is that you like it and you can afford to live there.
Take advantage of your “living on my own!” status and just enjoy being home.
Here’s the cool thing about having your own place: you can relax there. Schedule in some “chill out at home” time in your schedule instead of paying money for entertainment (movie theaters, bars, restaurants, etc). It’s a whole different ballgame being on your own… Enjoy that time. And I don’t mean that you have to become a homebody (unless that’s your thing) but I mean… you’re paying rent on the place, you might as well hang out there ;)
(have you made these black bean burgers yet? HAVE YOU???)
Learn to cook for yourself (BUT REALLY!!!!)
Dear god, if you can’t cook yourself a meal, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, LEARN TO COOK!!!! (I hear there’s this cool “Recipes” page on this here blog in case you need some easy ideas…)
Again, you are paying rent to have your own kitchen. USE THAT KITCHEN. Feed yourself. Stop going to restaurants all the time. You can make healthier, more delicious, and WAY CHEAPER meals yourself.
In related excuses, don’t pull that “it’s too hard to just cook for one person, wah wah wah”. Here’s an easy way to fix that: make bigger meals and save the extra portions for lunch or dinner the next day! BOOM.
(you can tell when I’m super riled up about a topic because I use a lot of CAPSLOCK. sorry bout it.. I just feel strongly about cooking for yourself)
And those normal, non-fun things…
You’re paying your own utility bills now, so be smart with your usage. Turn off lights, don’t waste water (I almost suggested “take shorter showers” but I know I couldn’t follow that advice either), turn your air conditioning or heating down when you leave for work, buy a clothes drying rack (did you know the dryer is one of the biggest energy users in your house?). It’s all little stuff but it’ll add up.
What money saving tips would you suggest to someone living on their own?
I have to thank my grandma for this post… and I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m sharing it with the whole internet today.
But seriously, it’s the BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU COULD EVER GIVE SOMEONE (no exaggeration, this is the truth) and I really want you to know about it.
I call it “pretzel rolos” but I’m sure there’s a better name for it.
Whatever- the name doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that it’s awesome and easy and you should really make it as soon as humanly possible.
Grandma’s Pretzel Rolos
- mini pretzels (I’ve used pretzel shapes and also those square shaped criss cross pretzels)
- M&Ms or halved pecans (the orig recipe is pecans but I use M&Ms because its cheaper haha)
First, unwrap the Rolos. I have not yet found a pre-wrapped option for Rolos… you’re probably going to have to unwrap them all yourself. And try really really hard not to eat them. I promise the end result is even more delicious than a plain Rolo.
Then grab a microwavable plate and line up a bunch of mini pretzels. I can usually fit 15-20 on a plate at a time. Put an unwrapped rolo on top.
Microwave the pretzels + rolos for 15-30 seconds on high. You might need to play around with this timing on your own microwave. You want the rolo to melt– but just a warning, they keep their shape pretty well so they aren’t going to LOOK melted. Like those above, they still kinda have their original shape but just a little tilted.. haha. Touch the top to see if it’s gotten melty (scientific term). Also beware that the microwave will probably melt the center ones more than the outside ones.
Once they’re melted, place an M&M (or pecan) on top and press down to squish the rolo and M&M into the pretzel. Then repeat with the rest of the pretzels and rolos.
And then eat at least 20 of them while still warm- they are SO good that way!
If you’re making multiple batches, take them off the plate and put somewhere to cool.
Once they’re cool, pack them up and give them out as holiday gifts! I’ve filled jars/boxes with these little treats and given them for office holiday parties– it’s a great gift that people will LOVE!
ALSO: In January, I’m holding a New Year’s Savings Challenge to kick start your 2015 financial resolutions! (because let’s be real: we all set a resolution to “save more money” and it never actually happens, right?)
I’ll be sending you a video (& email, for you peeps with bosses who don’t like you watching videos while at work!) every Monday and Thursday in January challenging you to work on one specific area of your finances. All these little challenges add up quickly; get ready to make some SERIOUS progress with your savings account in January!
If you’re already on my email list– you’re set. You’ll get the New Year’s Saving Challenge emails. If you aren’t on my list, what on earth are you waiting for? Sign up here now!! (or fill out the boxes below!)
Do you have a signature cookie/treat/candy that you make for the holidays?
I dunno if everyone besides me already knows this, but I recently discovered a super awesome way to NOT have to wash my hair as often and I figured I’d share with you. Just in case you didn’t already know (or do) this.
Oh but first, to prolong the suspense… LOOK! It snowed a lot in Rochester! We’ve been really lucky so far- I mean it’s already almost mid-December and we really haven’t gotten a big storm!
Thank goodness I work from home.
I finally cleaned my car off and discovered that it was under a FOOT (!!!) of snow. Thats crazy! And yes, I did use a ruler to get an accurate measurement.
Okay, back to what I was saying. Ready for the way to wash your hair less?
………. second drumroll……
Sleep with your hair in a bun!!
Did you already know this? (tell me I’m not the last to know!)
I’ve started throwing my hair up in a bun before I go to bed (nothing fancy, just literally twist it up and secure with a bobby pin… you’re gonna be sleeping so it can be messy, just as long as it’s UP). It’s usually all jacked up by the time I wake up but at least it’s been kinda-semi-up the whole night, that’s all that matters!
Normally, my hair gets gross and greasy within a DAY of washing it (tmi? eh, whatever) but sleeping with it up like this lets me go like 3 days between washing my hair instead of my usual 2*! It’s glorious.
*PS any other girls out there get annoyed when you try to explain to your boyfriend that washing your hair every day actually isn’t good for your hair? I tried to tell Mike this the other day and he just kept going “It’s making your hair clean; it’s not bad!” and I’m like “UGHHHHH I give up… I am never going to convince you”
In other news, Wednesday night I had a massive craving for chocolate chip cookies but didn’t have chocolate chips. So I googled around for something chocolate and found this chocolate mug cake recipe. It’s only 3 ingredients– so easy!
Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. powdered sugar
- 2 T. cocoa powder
Mix it all up in a mug, microwave for 1 minute on high, done!
I topped mine with chocolate syrup and marshmallow ice cream topping. It was really good. I mean, no chocolate chip cookie… but a close second.
What’s your go-to when you have a strong dessert craving?
Mine is usually chocolate chip cookies!! I really need to keep chocolate chips stocked in my pantry. But then again I’d probably just eat them by the handful. Perhaps that’s why I’m currently all out…
I think I’ve talked before about really appreciating the things you spend money on… right?
It’s something that I really believe helps you spend less money in the long run. If you buy stuff that truly makes you happy, you have less of a desire to accumulate MORE stuff.
So the other day, I was taking a shower and I remembered one of my most favorite purchases…
It’s not the shower curtain, although I do really love that too.
It’s a little higher…
Yup, it’s my shower curtain hooks. I am O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with them. Is that a weird thing to be obsessed with?
I remember buying them ~2.5 years ago, weirdly enough. I was outfitting my first ever OWN bathroom and was standing in the shower aisle at Target (where else?) debating which shower curtain hooks to buy. Usually I would have gone with those cheap-o plastic rings that are like $1… but I saw these metal ones (not sure exactly what type I bought but they’re like these) for $10 and was like, “hmm… is it worth the extra $9?”
I ended up getting them and turns out, it was TOTALLY worth that extra $9. I freakin’ love those hooks. I mean, have you ever used shower curtain hooks that don’t really slide and get all bunched up when you try to pull open the curtain? Yeah, I hate that. These NEVER do that and it is glorious.
You might think this is a silly thing to be thankful for, but it really does make me happy every time I think about how awesome they are :)
Another thing I’m crazy happy I bought? This wine opener.
Mike and I bought it when we moved in together because we realized that neither of us had a wine opener. I spent a few extra bucks on this one because it was a pretty color and I really love it! The color is so pretty and it works really well. Whenever we use it (which, actually, is more often as a beer opener than wine opener, haha) it makes me happy :)
And finally, this five year diary. (which, side note, would be a really good christmas present for people into things like this!)
It’s a journal with spaces for you to write a few sentences about each day… for 5 years! (as if the name of the thing didn’t already explain that…)
Each page is a day (like, December 10) and each page is split into 5 sections, so you can write all about December 10th for 5 years in a row. It’s really cool. I’ve had it since the beginning of 2013 so it’s been fun this year to write about my day and then see what I was doing exactly one year ago on that same day. (except, as you can see in this picture, when I forgot to write about it in 2013. That first block should have been for 2013… but I guess I forgot that day. haha) And next year I’ll get to see what I was doing for the past 2 years, and so on. So cool.
These examples might be a little silly to you if you aren’t into the same stuff as me, but I want you to look around at your own belongings and pick out the things that you really love and appreciate! Appreciating what you already have might make you realize that you don’t need to go out and spend more money :)
Name something (or multiple things) that you are thankful you spent money on… ready… GO!
First, please stroke my ego: how do you like the new header/logo? I played around with making a new one this weekend and I think I like this option. Seems more adult/classy/professional than the last one, I think? Maybe? Just agree with me :)
Moving on. This is a post I’ve been brainstorming for quite awhile but kinda procrastinated posting because I was never sure when I was actually done researching. I mean, there are SO MANY FREE THINGS you can get on your birthday. It’s kind of insane.
It’s also funny timing to finally publish this today because yesterday I (finally) redeemed my Starbucks birthday reward. Mike & I split a venti chestnut praline frapp and it was really good! I made sure to get the most expensive drink on the menu ($5.25 !!!!! whoa) … obviously ;)
And before I dive into the freebies, two things to mention:
#1. Double check my research
I tried really, really hard to get this all right but some of the restaurants are a little secretive about their rewards so I might not be 100% accurate. If you’re really excited about getting a reward, I’d suggest double checking my facts before you set out for your freebie :)
#2. Use those fancy email filters once you sign up for all these lists
Most of these offers are for people who sign up for Rewards clubs/email lists/etc. That means that as soon as you sign up, you’re going to start getting MASSIVE amounts of emails from these companies. Be prepared for this. Maybe use one of your secondary email addresses that you rarely check (we all have those, right?) or create some sort of fancy filter in your inbox that can divert these emails into a separate folder…. whatever you do, just make sure you AREN’T forced to look at all these emails every day because they’ll tempt you into spending money and that is not good for our wallets. Just do something to hide all these emails until it’s your birth month and you’re ready to take advantage of the freebies :)
With that said… here’s a list of everything I found– I hope this helps you get a whole bunch of freebies on your birthday!! :)
A Big List of Birthday Freebies:
Au Bon Pain- free sandwich or salad for eClub members
Baskin Robbins- free scoop when you sign up for their Birthday Club
Bruegger’s- I believe you get a free bagel with cream cheese with purchase of a coffee if you’re an eClub member
Caribou Coffee- free coffee for email list members, but I think it’s only on your actual birth DAY and you’ll be sent a coupon for it.
Cinnabon- free MochaLatta chill (some sort of coffee drink?) for Club Cinnabon members
Dairy Queen- you get some sort of discount/freebie– might be a free blizzard, might be BOGO? I can’t quite tell–for Fan Club members
Dippin Dots- free ice cream for Dot Crazy Rewards Club members (what a name…)
Dunkin Donuts- free medium coffee for DD Perks Program members (you become a member by getting a gift card and registering it online or through the mobile app). I think the birthday reward is good for 90 days after your birthday, so that’s pretty cool!
Firehouse Subs- you don’t even need to sign up for an email list, just show your ID on your actual birth DAY and you’ll get a free medium sub!
IHOP- free meal for members of the “Pancake Revolution” (which I guess is their rewards program?)
Jersey Mike’s- free sub and drink for email list members … but be sure to sign up at least a week before your birthday! (they even specify that on the website)
Krispy Kreme- free donut and small coffee for email subscribers
La Madeleine- free pastry for E-club members (thanks for the tip, Debbie!)
Maggie Moo’s- free kid’s cone for email subscribers
Noodles & Company- coupon for a free (!!!) dish sent if you’re in their eClub
Panera- free pastry (I got a delicious pecan roll this year!) for Rewards members
Red Robin- free burger for people in their eClub
Starbucks- free drink/food (I never get the food but I believe that’s an option) for Rewards Members (are you a rewards member yet? you should be)– but be sure you sign up at least 30 days before your bday! The offer is valid for a week or so before your birthday, through about a month after your birthday (don’t quote me on those specifics)
Waffle House- free meal (not sure what that includes, though) for “Regulars”
Got any others to add? Let me know and I’ll add ‘em to the post! :)
What’s your favorite birthday freebie?
I think mine would have to be Starbucks– shocker, right? But I really want to try Firehouse next year; they have awesome subs!