Plan for the Unexpected Financial Burdens

April 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , )

When I made my list of things that needed to be covered each month, I didn’t exactly jot down everything. I don’t buy birthday presents every month, nor Christmas presents. I don’t get an oil change all of the time nor get my car fixed. But these are all financial traps that can quickly bring you into debt if you’re a credit card happy fiend. I started a list that will probably have to be edited in the future of things that you WILL need extra cash for and will need to plan for when you run into extra money. Sometimes it’s not there to spend on yourself, but to plan for things down the road.

1. Birthdays: I’ve got a bit of a system with birthdays. I try to shop online on places like amazon to buy cheaper things that are the same as what they want. I also have a chase debit card that gives me points when I spend money so I can redeem them for gift cards. These make great gifts!

2. Christmas: Definitely watch out for this. Don’t spend beyond your means because one happy day may mean misery for years to come if you’re not careful.

3. Car maintainance: Oil changes, unexpected repairs, breakdowns…Cars aren’t MADE to last. Keep this in mine the next time you decide to eat out twice a week because “it’s only 5 bucks each time”. That’s 40 bucks a month! On just lunch twice a week!

4. Overspending on Groceries: It’s way easy to do. One friend get together here, 5 extra items beyond the norm there…the point is, EVERYTHING you do adds up. Holidays are a wicked time when it comes to groceries because most people plan on doing SOMETHING for them.

5. Pets: Vet care, food, shelter, water, anti-flea and worm medications, illness, litter, leashes, etc. Pets are EXPENSIVE. Do not think of them like plants that need some water and they are good. It’s not how the bargain between pet and owner works.

6. Personal maintainance: Medications, hair cuts, new clothes, makeup, cologne, perfume. I guarantee you aren’t figuring these bits into your grocery budget. On the occassion you need makeup, spend 10 bucks less on groceries so it makes up for purchasing it. It’s allllll about financial balance.

7. Fun time: Do you have a “fun” budget? Want to go to the movies? Go to a museum? Go out to the bar with friends? Take your lady or man friend on a date? And don’t forget to generously tip your server! Nothing looks worse on a date than appearing like a cheapass.

Watch your bad selves ladies and gents! Even if apartments can be cheaper than housing, don’t fool yourself into thinking it means you have more to spend!

Advertisements

Permalink 2 Comments

Apartment Freshening Tips

February 23, 2009 at 12:03 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , )

Now from personal experience I can assure you that apartments can get some fairly strange smells about them. It’s not only your stuff that’s going to cause a weird smell combo, but also apartments upstairs, downstairs, the hallway, etc. My friends rented an apartment where the man upstairs smoked weed and the smell drifted through the air vent into their apartment. Charming.

So in my short time in this apartment, I’ve developed what I like to think are smell coping mechanisms.

Let’s start with the basics:

1. I own cats. Cats can smell. So can dogs! For dogs, bath them often enough so that they don’t stink up your place. You may be so used to it that when you walk in, there’s no noticeable difference. But for the rest of us? Trust me, we CAN smell the difference. For cats, the trick is changing the litter often and washing things they commonly lay on. You could invest in a litter box that has a lid with a filter. Or you can dust in baking soda over the litter to absorb odors. Plug in air fresheners can help if the litter box is confined to a certain room.

2. Air purifiers can help pick up things like mold, dust, dirt, fur, etc. I have one that helps immensely with odors and the like. I just set it up in a room and turn in on. *Sniff* Ah beautiful.

3. Vacuums with bags tend to get what I call ‘Smelly Bag’. For the faint of mind, translation: your vacuum bag smells like a butthole. This is the advantage of having a bagless vacuum. If you love your baggies though, perhaps consider buying some  scented carpet dust to throw over the floor and then vacuum up for a nice smell that lingers.

4. I light a few candles before company comes over to burn out any noxious fumes floating about when I’m preparing for their company.

5. For an all-over fresh apartment scent, place a medium sized pan on the stove. Throw in some cinnamon sticks, orange peels, etc. (Get creative!) After adding a lot of water to it, allow it to boil for an hour or two. Keep refilling the water as it evaporates. The smell of cinnamon fills your living space and it smells QUITE lovely.

6. If you’re simply to cheap to buy cinnamon sticks, buy a lemon or lemon juice and place it with some water in a bowl to pop in the microwave. (Obviously you’re going to be cutting this lemon). Lemon is a natural ‘smell good’ fruit. It’s why they always make lemon scented hand wipes at places like Red Lobster.

This I may add to later. It’s simply too rich of a subject to ignore!

Permalink 1 Comment

Apartment Car Accidents

December 1, 2008 at 3:20 am (Apartment Accidents/ Disasters) (, , , , , )

In the case of most apartment complexes (and based on the fact that I’ve had to do it), if someone strikes your car and drives off, you should let your apartment complex know the situation. They are not liable for what others do to your car as it’s not their fault. But they will allow you into their office to fill out a report letting them know what transpired. (Also it’s a good idea to call the police.) Other people in the complex may have had a similar situation and they may have more information than you did. If the alleged person struck another car but the person they hit got that persons plate, it may help in getting you money to repair your own damages.

Also? Get a copy of the report they fill out. And not only that, but take pictures of the accident the MOMENT you see damages. Record the time you noticed and a possible time you deduce it could have happened. If there’s ANY pertinent information about it whatsoever, write it down. This will help you later in any reporting situation.

This will be the same procedure for any other sort of accident as well. Just keep an eye out for any details, you Sherlock Holmes, you.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Pros and Cons of a First Floor Apartment

October 29, 2008 at 9:55 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Is the first floor actually a good idea? There are some obvious things some people think of right away, but I’m going to do the thinking for you and list pros and cons.

Let’s start off on the wrong side of the bed:

1. If people pull into the parking lot at night, their lights will shine RIGHT into your apartment. You’ll always have to remember to keep blinds closed at night, or invest in some hefty blankets to pin on the windows to keep the lights out.

2. People who live on any of the other floors will always go tromping in and out of the complex and you’ll get to hear every bit of it. The first floor is the central area where people will always come walking through the front door that’s near yours to go wherever they need to.

3. First floor apartments make great locations for people to break into.

4. You can’t keep your blinds open because anyone who parks can see right into your apartment and see what you’re doing and every possession you own.

5. Bugs seem to be more prevalent. This can depend on how far the apartment goes into the ground through. My friends have a ground level 1st floor apartment, which means it’s partially underground. They get MANY bugs.

6. You can hear the neighbor’s footsteps above you every now and again.

7. Heat rises, so in the winter higher heating bills could be a concern unless you have an insulated-by-the-gods apartment.

On the bright side of the street:

1. You won’t have to worry about disturbing any neighbors below you.

2. They stay cooler during the summer.

3. If you’ve ever had to haul heavy bags or groceries upstairs, you’ll understand the luxury of living in a first floor apartment. And if you have kids good luck hauling the stroller up.

4. You will feel like you’re living more in a house than an apartment because you’ll have immediate access to outside and your car.

5. Moving in and out won’t be such a pain in the butt.

Truly the decision relies on what you maintain as top on your priority list. Safety is huge on mine because I live by myself. I did look for first floor apartments, but I also loved the light shining through my windows too much to want to keep them closed with blinds all day. I live on the third floor because of the great view I have. The 2nd floor was out for me because I would end up hearing people below me AND above me. Not a fan. My drawback is hauling up groceries. It’s heinous getting heavy bags up the stairs and moving in was pretty bad. It made me want to sell a lot of my possessions.

Permalink 2 Comments

What apartment best suits my needs?

October 8, 2008 at 1:08 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Looking at fancy dancy apartments and their layouts is pretty fun while skimming through renting websites. Some come equipped with a work-out center, others a pool, some even have a balcony. All of this sounds pretty snazzy, but in all inner reflection and truthfulness, will you actually use any of it?

My sister rented an apartment with her boyfriend that came with a balcony. He’s a smoker and they live on the 3rd floor. In this instance it’s handy for them because smoking isn’t allowed inside their apartments. Even if it was, she wouldn’t allow him to because she has asthma and is allergic to smoke. I thought I wanted a balcony because I had plants I wanted outside. But truth be told plants only live outside for the summer months before they are done for. So my thinking wasn’t logical because I wouldn’t use it in the winter months and I’d be paying for a pointless extra. Rather than all that, I opted for an apartment with a big bay window. It gave me a little more space in the apartment because the window is pushed out, and I have gorgeous sunlight that streams into my living room. Bonus for this too because I won’t need to have lights on as much. Then I can set my pots and plants on the sill of the window and have them all year round!

If you are sold on a cable company such as Comcast, you may also want to watch the area you move to. Some apartment complexes sign deals with cable companies that restrict you from going to anyone but them. My apartment complex only allows some form of AT&T dish network or DirectTV. They don’t allow Comcast. So I really can’t get any fabulous deals in that area.

If working out is important to you, maybe you should opt for an apartment that has a workout center. As a caution, don’t count on it being fabulous. It’s not like a gym where there are machines as far as the eye can see. Usually there are a handful for all to use.  Though I once found an apartment complex that had a full gym for residents to use and a free tanning bed to boot. Sort of oddly unhygenic if no one is monitoring it’s wipedown, but that’s another matter.

My apartment complex has a pool, but I never used it. They don’t allow you to bring guests in, so unless you have a spouse, family, or best friend/ roomies living with you, single people like me seem to get the shorter end of the stick.

In all genericness, just ask lots of questions and take notes if necessary. Some places have gas stoves while others have electric. Most places come with major appliances, but again, some do not. I guess the beautiful people are those who have microwaves that come with their apartment. If you want your own washer and dryer, either rent an apartment with one, or rent one with hookups and bring in your own. My apartment has rules that you can’t fashion or install your own blinds, but if you want theirs, you must pay 60 dollars and they will install them for you.

Think!

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Courtesy Candle

September 23, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , )

I grew up with a shameless brother and father so I was already prepared for the onslaught any future bathroom of mine would sustain. And you should prepare your bathroom for the same. Think of it as a war zone, a war zone in which you will be occupying often. And everyone appreciates clean trenches.

My sister stays with me a few nights a week to make her drive to class shorter for her. She has an interesting ritual that involves drinking lots of water and using the bathroom for both numbers…A LOT. The situation that occurred today reminded me that I should warn the rest of you to BE PREPARED.

My brother-in-law isn’t the most courteous in regards to his bowels, so when he stopped by today I was weary. The first place he stopped after arriving at my place was, of course, the bathroom. Now I was ready for what was about to happen because it’s happened so often. On the counter top next to the toilet sat a nice cranberry candle. It’s referred to as the ‘courtesy candle’. If you are a wonderful person who is about to expel not-so-wonderful things, you light the candle to help clear the air. Well after about 5 minutes of him in there, my sister urged him to hurry because now SHE had to go. He flew out and she flew in. Cursing also came out of her along with insults towards his “sphincter” (in only a way my sister can accomplish). After she was completed, he went right back in. Now keep in mind, when she went in, the candle was lit. At this point though, I think it probably had it. The amusing part of this was that my walls have strange yellow drippings on them going from about the ceiling to midway on the walls. We questioned where they came from but couldn’t really figure out why they were there. I joked when he was in the bathroom that now I knew, the walls were melting from the evil he was letting out. My sister said the walls must be crying. I’ll admit I like her version better. After they were both done playing tag-team-bathroom, I’m fairly certain my entire apartment smelled like a beagle’s butt. We decorated the bathroom with candles everywhere and it looked like we were trying to perform a seance in the bathroom to exercise demons (really, we were).

I guess the point of this is I haven’t found an air freshener yet that I am completely comfortable with. Most have these strange, fruity smells that just keep whatever bad smell is around and adds a dash of fruity with it too so the air smells like fruity-farts. My advice is to either invest in LOTS of candles, air freshener, and any other aroma-soothing items for your bathroom. I’m lucky enough to be on terms with my sister that dictate that we can speak to each other however we want. But you’re not going to get to tell grama how much the bathroom smells after she’s used it when she’s over.

I don’t say this for their sake even necessarily. If you have to use the bathroom soon after they are done, how great is it going to be to walk into a cloud of doom? Save everyone, including yourself.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Magical Apartment Ordeal that Everyone Wishes For

September 21, 2008 at 5:22 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , , , )

I was elated a few days ago, and for the past while I’ve had some issues figuring out what advice to give. But what is advice but experienced echoed in magical storytime? So my elation will now become something you suddenly all want to know about. So sit around me in a circle kids! (Stop talking, picking your collective noses, and pay attention for once.)

When I chose this apartment complex as my nesting grounds, there were a few move in specials that were lumped with it that tend to happen in many complexes. (Not always specifically MY deals, just good deals in general to entice you. Stop taking things so literally.)  The good deals they lured me in with were: 300 dollars worth of ‘money’ that I could apply towards anything I wanted that came as an expense from the apartment complex itself, 1 free accent wall painted to the color of my choice (basically 4 colors they said I could have it and even picked the colors out for me), and then free cable for one month.

Now for some of you, I’m sure free cable would be fantastic, because hey, free cable! Well I don’t watch TV so I didn’t give 2 rat rumps towards it. Yeah, you heard me, I don’t watch TV. Get over it.

Well the thing about apartment complexes is they like to give you lots of paperwork. Copies of all signed forms, notices that the parking lot is being renovated and you need to park in the next state or something, that they are implementing new policies that you can’t have friends in the pool with you because 1 jerk spoiled it for everyone, and so on. Well I got LOTS of these cable notices. The month after I moved in they planned on switching it from 40 dollar a month cable that you could ONLY get through them, to 22 dollar a month cable you could either get through them, or 30 dollar cable you could get through AT&T. Me being the studious lass that I am, I read through everything given to me. Not that I needed to mind you, but if there were some fine print that said something like, “…and you will agree to sell your first child’s virginity to a fat old man who owns this place named George…”, I MAY have some issues with that! Somewhere along the way, I could have SWORN I read one of the flyers stating that if I didn’t want cable after they did the switchover in September, I needed to include a note with my rent check stating that I no longer wanted cable and wished to have it disconnected. Sounds plausible yes? Well it sounded plausible to me, and that’s what matters. Being that I don’t watch it, I never bothered to turn it on to see if it was disconnected or not.

Let’s now fastforward 2 weeks. Two of my dear friends and their spawn child (whom I also love dearly) came to visit me. They do happen to be TV watchers. They decided to turn on the TV and lo and behold, I still had cable for some reason! “Hm”, I thought to myself curiously, “now that is a bit odd!” Fortunately for me, my apartment complex has office hours that leave them open everyday at least at some point. Unfortunately I called when they were supposed to be open and they were not! (What the hell people, false advertisement. FALSE ADVERTISEMENT.) I needed to wait until Monday to contact them.  Well I did so Monday and no one was there then either! (Damnit people.) Tuesday rolled around and I forgot. (My bad!) Wednesday happened and my golden opportunity of glory was at hand. Hear me roar apartment complex!

I called a very nice woman who answered the phone who obviously knew it was me calling and decided to answer my plight because I’m cool. I told her of my situation and how I was unsure why the cable wasn’t cancelled. Well unbenownst to me was a wee little fact I failed to acknowledge. APPARENTLY I was supposed to go in and sign off as saying I didn’t want cable rather than stick a note in with my rent check. Because APPARENTLY the place the check goes is not anywhere near where they or I are. Fine. She was gracious enough to offer me a deal though.

“Here’s what I’ll do…”, said this wheeling, dealing apartment saleswoman, “…how about I contact the office that collects the checks FOR you, and if we can track down the note we’ll take it off your bill. Oh but wait, it looks like part of your move-in special for 300 dollars covered it.”

“WHAT?!”, I roared, but only in my head. Instead I actually said, “Well that would be simply lovely if you could do that for me, I really appreciate it.” Normally I want you to know that I am NOT this saccharine, but when it comes to me and my money, I like to keep it. So I’ll be a little overly sweet if necessary. Not at all dubious, I felt very assured they would track down my note within, oh, 1 hour, and this whole ugly mess would be left behind me. She promised to call me back the next day with news (good news I assumed). The next day happened and there was no call. I felt like I was the victim of a 1 night stand and she was out and about like a trollop solving everyone’s issues but mine. Unacceptable. The next day I called and was on the phone with a different woman. I informed her of my plight as well verbatim as I spoke of it with the other woman. I informed her of what the other woman told me and waited for a miracle to happen. She instead informed me that the woman probably didn’t get back with me because they were swamped in the office. I was assured though that sometime that week I WOULD be getting a call about the situation.

About 2 days later I received said call.

“Hi, sorry about getting back with you so late! This is Jan, the person you spoke with about your cable and the bill the other day. Kristen, the girl you spoke with originally would be calling you, but she’s giving a tour right now and we wanted to tell you the situation regardless. I’m sorry to say, but we couldn’t find your note anywhere stating that you didn’t want cable. However, I do want you to know that Kristen spoke to the manager and she decided to simply shut your cable off now and give you a full months refund.”

FABULOUS.

So in the end, I’m going to guess it had a little something to do with my sorry attitude and my politeness as to why they would decide to give me a refund for something they absolutely didn’t have to do. I was elated though!

So perhaps this is the difference between an average and good apartment complex. Also you should be polite.

The end.

Good story huh?

Permalink Leave a Comment

So you moved and want to know how much to spend on food?

September 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm (budgeting) (, , , , , , , )

I can usually tell what people are trying to find out based on search tags I’m shown for my blog. I take the most commonly sought queries and find out as much as possible, then post. Frequently, people either want to know lists of things they should have for an apartment or how much they should expect to spend. This is very difficult for me to approach because chances are high that I don’t live in the same area you do. I am going to ATTEMPT to give you a generic price list along with a formula for figuring out what you should be spending. Also I am going to be playing mom (you’ll see what I mean in a bit). So put your seat belts on because this is going to be one helluva ride.

I read an article once that said people are eating far more unhealthy these days and spending far less on ‘good’ food than they should. Hypothetically, 20% of your monthly income (give or take) should be going towards food supplies. This really does depend on your budget, consumption, earnings, family size, etc. But I calculated my own and I hit just about that mark. If you’re bad at math, this is how it goes:

(Amount you spend/plan on spending in groceries in a month) divided by (amount you earn a month) = percentage you’ll be spending on groceries.

Allow me to use my own personal situation as an example. I plan on spending 60 dollars a week on groceries. So I would multiply that by 4 weeks to get 240 dollars a month. So…

240 divided by 1,300 (my monthly income) = .184

Moving the decimal two places over, that means I spend about 18% of my income a month on purchasing groceries.

Sixty dollars may SOUND like a lot to spend on food, but a little doesn’t always go a long ways. If you are a heavy meat eater, you are going to have a very rough time. Depending on the meat you purchase, it can get extremely expensive. For example, a pound of chicken could cost anywhere from 3-8 dollars a pound. OUCH. If you’re living the single life, I salute you. Food will be much easier to purchase because you can live on less. I tend to gather the ads that come in the Sunday paper from Walmart, Meijer, and Kroger, then compare every item I would want and go to all three places to purchase what I need at the lowest price. For example, Kroger tends to have fish marked down severely a few days before it will go bad. Meijer simply puts it away at night so you don’t even have access to it. Walmart sells my favorite gallon jug of tea for 2.58 while Meijer sells it for a whopping 3.69! Though Meijer trumps both Walmart and Kroger in the sale of meat.

The unfortunate thing about all of this is that the stores don’t list their perishable food product prices online along with the rest of their merchandise. So to give you food prices? Not so much. But know that when you first move, you’re starting from scratch. That means even simple things you won’t have, like salad dressing, salt and pepper, sugar, etc. Most things can be bought in bits at a time. Every grocery store visit, plan to add a few items to your list. Generically, I made a list of things that will be handy to have in your kitchen:

1.   Olive oil
2.   Salt and pepper
3.   Mayo/ Miracle Whip
4.   Mustard
5.   Bbq sauce
6.   Vinegar
7.   Salad dressing
8.   Horse radish (the Polish in me can’t say no to it on the list)
9.   Spices (Thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, old bay, cinnamon, nutmeg, poultry seasoning, etc)
10. Sugar
11. Bread
12. Sandwich meat
13. Cheese (whether it be for grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos, salad, or whatever your wee heart desires)
14. Milk
15. Juice
16. Nuts
17. Pop (Yeah I know, bad for you. Get over it)
18. Salad
19. Carrots
20. Cucumbers
21. Tomatoes
22. Potatoes
23. Frozen corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower
24. Your choice of meat
25. Tuna fish

The list could literally go on forever. I don’t buy the same things every week because that’s boring as hell! If pierogis in the frozen section are on sale this week, I’ll buy those over a bag of chips. If yogurt is 2 for a dollar, I’m going to snatch some up and have it for lunch with a sandwich. Honestly this is truly all on you. You need to figure out your budget and learn to work within it. Obviously if you don’t have much to work with, you better stick to things like hot dogs, beans, apples, and frozen vegetables. These things are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. For you kings and queens, perhaps some fresh pinapple with a nice steak is in order. Everyone (except vegans and those with allergies) need some butter to cook with. Maybe you hate salad and want a big, juicy, grilled portabella mushroom instead (great when grilled with olive oil and vinegar by the way). Truly anything I could type would be bare bones. Find some recipes to survive on for the week and buy the items listed on the recipes. Buy some generic cereal for breakfast. You get the drill. Now hop to it!

Permalink Leave a Comment

What things will you need when first moving into an apartment?

August 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm (Apartment Living, Necessary Apartment Items) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Well hey, it’s kind of hard to shop for things for your apartment when you don’t really know what to expect! To be completely honest, I didn’t even do my shopping until AFTER I moved into my apartment for most things because I didn’t want even MORE to pack. But for the sake of the readership, I’ll divide what you’ll need into the categories of the rooms in which they will belong. It’s a generic list of course tailored to my lifestyle. Adjust accordingly!

Kitchen:

This is a key area for me because when I have guests over, this is where everyone loves to be. I can make everyone feel more at home with things I can make for them. The better/more supplies I have, the better off I am (or at least it feels that way). To have a workable kitchen, I made sure to have…

1.   Coffee Mugs – Coffee, tea, all delicious!

2.   Glasses – If  you’re not someone who likes to do dishes every few days, perhaps buying a few more to compensate will help you out.

3.   Can opener – I recommend not buying an electric one. It’s tempting, but you can’t use it in power outages and whatnot.

4.   Spatula – Turn burgers, chicken, fries, pancakes, lift cookies, biscuits, slap your boyfriend, etc.

5.   Silverware/ silverware holder/ knives – Silverware is easy to find, but don’t get knives that are TOO cheap. You don’t want them dull after using them for, say, 2 months.

6.   Toaster – Who doesn’t love some crunchy bagels in the morning? Or toast? Or warm, gooey poptarts, or….

7.   Big Serving spoons – These are handy for serving vegetables and fruit or stirring and cooking.

8.   Tupperware – I use it for leftovers and for bringing food to work. These are pretty much a staple of my kitchen.

9.   Dish towels – I guess you don’t HAVE to have them, but I like the convenience of wiping my hands somewhere without worrying about having to buy more (like paper towels).

10. Mixer – For those of you who don’t bake, it’s not a necessity. But I like making baked goods, cakes, etc. So for me? I HAVE to have one.

11. Baking pans – Cookies are pretty okay to cook on them, but I also use them for fries, pizza, and any generic non-liquid situation that is popped into the oven.

12. Pots and pans – I prefer non-Teflon since it’s not the most healthy thing to cook in or on. Try not to get cheap things that won’t last you. If you’re gonna move out, make sure you buy some supplies that are worthy of buying in the first place and will last you a long time. As for sizes, you want a variety. Some frying pans are nice for pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, etc. Medium sized pots are good for cooking veggies, rice, etc. For large ones? Stews, soups, lasagna noodles, etc. For those daring enough, a wok could be added to this area for stir fry!

13. Broom/ swiffer – I have several tiled areas in my apartment and it’s just nice to not have to bend down with a wet sponge and a paper towel.

14. Dish soap – Good for soaking greasy dishes or cleaning things that won’t fit into a dishwasher.

15. Paper towel – This is more functional for me when I need to clean up cat messes and don’t want it on my nice dish towels. But I’ve also used them for window cleaning and small messes on the floor.

16. Tea kettle – I like my instant coffee and I like my tea.

17. Salt/ pepper shakers – I haven’t invested in a true set of my own yet but I have the disposable ones for now and they function just fine. If you want to impress your friends, you can always invest in the grind-it-yourself salt and pepper dispensers. Those are more expensive to buy, and also to refill.

18. Various spices – I’m not a fan of bland food. Oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, garlic, paprika, onion powder, cinnamon, ginger…these are all your friends!

19. Garbage can/ garbage bags – If you don’t plan on buying these things, I would love if you wrote back to enlighten me on how that’s working out for you. Truly.

20. Saran wrap, aluminum foil, sandwich baggies – Leftovers are always abundant in my house and rather delicious the next day when I don’t feel like cooking. Saran wrap keeps it fresh and fancy. Foil is for wrapping my pans in. I HATE cleaning baking pans, so the metal keeps the fry grease off. Though in retrospect it’s probably not too helpful to the environment. Sandwich baggies are good for ANYTHING really. Just handy to have around I suppose.

21. Plates – As one reader pointed out in the comments, yes, they are needed. (I eat on plates, I swear.)

22. Dish dryer – If you find yourself going into an apartment without a dishwasher, you’ll need some place to stick the wet dishes after you’ve washed them.

23. Crockpot – It’s great to just throw some things into a pot, simmer it all day, and have dinner ready when you feel like it! And for those bachelors who think they don’t need one, just WHERE are you going to put those hotwings you’re cooking for when your buddies come over for football?

24. Oven mitts – I have the flat kind, and also the ones that you wear! It helps to have multiples. I also use the flat ones to set pots on when I have guests for dinner and want to set the food on the table.

25. Bowls – Soups and cereals are just FAR too difficult to eat on a plate! Large bowls are good for putting fruit in, mixing ingredients for baking, etc.

26. Microwave – Far easier than firing up the ol’ stove for everything, I wager.

Cleaning Supplies:

Gotta keep the place clean! Probably not much more unsettling than going to a friend’s apartment and it’s funky-not-so-fresh. Plus you don’t want to get sick. If you leave little bits of food in your kitchen, bugs are sure to come. Don’t get off on a bad start to a nasty feeling and looking apartment.Though if you are someone who likes to live organically, shop at your local Whole Foods (or organic store of your choosing) for organic cleaning supplies. (A vinegar and peroxide mixture is my sisters personal favorite.)

1. Windex – For those ever so sparkly windows and mirrors.

2. Laundry detergent/ dryer sheets (or fabric softener) – Gotta keep that slick, sparkling look about you! Plus I don’t want to smell your week-old undies.

3. Bleach cleaner – For sinks, tubs, counter-tops, etc.

4. Toilet cleaner/toilet brush – Yeah about this. I REALLY hate toilets that look like another culture is cultivating itself on the insides of the bowl. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Clean your toilet at least once a week. PLEASE.

5. Vacuum – Don’t buy a cheap one, it won’t last and you’ll get pretty ticked when the belt, bag, suction, etc doesn’t work! Yay http://www.consumerreports.org! They are pretty nifty with helping you find a decent vacuum within your price range.

6. Sponges – General cleaning and kitchen supplies. Who knows if you’ll even have a dishwasher! And you need SOMETHING to wipe the counter.

7. Dishwasher soap – If you’re one of the beautiful people who got one in your apartment. And guess what? Don’t use dish soap as a substitute unless you want foaming soap and water to come spilling out of the sides of your machine.

8. Spot carpet cleaner – You know, for when you spill things on your carpet and don’t want to pay the complex to clean the stain or buy new carpet and charge it to you!

9. Spot laundry stain remover – I really hate it when I’m eating a salad with Italian dressing and a spot gets on my shirt. I love the few clothes that I have, so it’s a huge bummer when a stain ruins them for me! So keep something around for grass, blood, wine, dressing, and various other stains for your poor clothes.

10. Air freshener – Hey, clean air is still in the ‘cleaning supplies’ region. If your grandparents come over and bomb out the bathroom, whip out that Febreeze and have a field day. Go ahead, you earned it.

Bathroom:

The bathroom is my source of comfort mostly for the thought that it’s where I can be and don’t need an excuse to be there privately. I take great pains in making sure that I make my bathroom the most comfortable place possible. I pretend I’m thinking of going to a friend’s house and the worse case scenario happens (something like I start my period unexpectedly, I feel sick, I need a makeup overhaul, I need to desperately shower, etc. Just think of experiences where you went to a bathroom needing and hoping beyond all rational thought that they had what you needed for your emergency and they didn’t.) In this, my list will be EXTREMELY biased because I have taken great thought in what would make me and others comfortable and am sure to add those things in my setting. And truly, you spend lots of time in there everyday. You get ready there, relax, use the bathroom, clean, etc. Make it a place worth spending time in.

1. Hand towels – When people wash up, they don’t want to use the towels you used to dry your body with after a shower. They are extremely cheap and you can even buy a nice, full bathroom towel set so that you look like you actually planned a nice looking apartment.

2. Wash cloths – I use shower poofs for my personal cleanliness, but if I have guests, I know better than to not have any of these. There’s nothing worse than being ‘forgotten’ as a guest.

3. Towels – Try not to buy something JUST because it’s cheap. You want a high thread count and have 100 percent cotton towels. If you buy something lackluster, it won’t absorb the water off from your body which is kind of the idea. Be sure to have a couple sets for when you have guests and when your other towels are in the laundry.

4. Air freshener – I can tell you now, after observing people, the one thing they fear is leaving a smell behind when they know others are in the house and will need to use the bathroom too. Don’t give your guests reason to have embarrassment. C’mon! Your (insert parental figure) raised you better! Oust and Febreeze are rather nice brands that I’ve tried and don’t feel guilty recommending. If you’re having a party, light a nice candle in the bathroom and leave it lit for constant air freshening. Be careful though! Make sure it’s monitored or in a safe jar. Another good idea would be having a plug-in air freshener. I ordered some recently from bath and body works and the Moonlight Path scent is heavenly!

5. Rugs – I hate stepping out of a shower wet thinking I’m going to slip on the floor and go smashing face first to my doom. Rugs keep the water contained and keep the bathroom looking nice and well put-together. If you want to be extra snazzy, make the rugs match the towels. I have teal and black towels and black rugs to match. (Even my shower poofs are black and teal!) It’s also nice to have something soft to stand on when I’m standing in front of the mirror every morning to get ready. And when I say rugs, I also mean a snazzy toilet seat cover as well.

6. ‘Shower’ paraphernalia – My apartment complex had a built-in shower rod, but not all of them do. Most large chain (i.e. Walmart) stores have your basic needs: a shower rod, curtain, and rings. Since mine came with a rod already, all I needed was the curtain and rings. My friends had extra rings so they just gave them to me (a package of 12 or so should do the trick). As for the curtain? I didn’t get a decorated fancy one. I got the inner lining to prevent shower water from spraying my bathroom and that was it. I only have one light in my bathroom and shower curtains are fairly opaque. I like to see how I’m shaving and what I’m doing so I simply bought a clear, see through one. It was also labeled antimicrobial. Curtains can get moldy you know! Some places like Bed Bath and Beyond sell curtains that you can wash in your washer!

7. Guest needs – This is the unnecessary part so feel free to skip if you feel so inclined. In order for my guests to feel more at home, I provide basic necessities lest they stay and need things. I keep disposable razors at the ready, spare deodorant, a spare hairbrush/ comb, nail clippers, ibuprofen, Excedrin, shower soap, shampoos and conditioners, hair sprays/ gel, tampons/ pads, a spare toothbrush and toothpaste, spare makeup, and other generic needs as I think of them. I know people don’t HAVE to do these things. But isn’t it nice going to a friends house, realizing it’s too snowy to go home and then having them reply, “Oh don’t worry about anything! We have everything you’ll need.” And the best part would be knowing they are right!

8.  Hand soap – I keep a couple different kinds. My sister is allergic to perfumes so I keep Dove liquid hand soap because it’s free of scent and dyes. On the other hand, some people enjoy having those fruity soaps so I keep the pump-foam soaps scented with apple and berry as well. I hate using  bar soap because of how it leaves residue behind, but that is just a personal preference.

9. Plunger – Be proactive for your own sake.

10. Toilet paper – You know, this is sort of an essential ingredient in the bathroom process! I don’t buy the most expensive kind, but I don’t buy the cheapest either. If it’s on sale and looks fairly decent, I do some prices versus brand versus quantity and quality comparisons and make my decision from there. I also have a handy dandy toilet paper holder as well to keep spares in beside the toilet. I can’t imagine anything much more annoying that being at someone’s house reaching for toilet paper and panicking, realizing there is only 1 square left. And conveniently they store it in their hallway closet or bedroom or something. THANKS.

11. Tissue paper – I can use toilet paper to wipe my nose just like the next girl or guy, but there’s something appealing about having some that’s lotion and soothing to your nose. I keep a fairly decent box around just because I hardly ever use it so expense isn’t an issue. I even have it under a pretty little metal box that matches my other things.

12. Garbage pail – Get a nice, big one too. And keep bags in it. It’s soooooooooooo gross when people use them without bags.

13. Reading material – C’mon, you thought you’d escape this one? You know your dad loves his magazine time. Don’t leave a bored bathroom reader. Put a few fun and unique reads in there (visual puzzle books, short stories, magazines, etc.)

Bedroom:

Well, we’re nearing the end of the line now. Let’s keep trucking along to create that great ‘I just moved, am living on my own, and actually know what I’m doing!’ feeling we’re all so desperately craving now. I don’t feel the need to make living room recommendations. That will be up to you for how you’d like your main room to look.

1. Sheets – Sadly I only have 1 set, but rest assured I WILL be getting another soon. Try to wash them every 2-3 weeks or at least once a month. It will keep your room smelling fresher!

2. Laundry basket – I keep my clothes in my room so that’s where I change. It’s handy to just keep a nice basket in there to throw them in.

3. Hangers – My dresser is tiny, so I need tons of hangers to keep my room not looking like a dump.

4.  Bed Spread – I have a nice gold, red, brown, and tan theme going for my room so of course I have a bed spread to match. To be honest, I don’t even USE it unless I need my room looking nice if people are going to see it. I have nice old cotton blankets for all other sleeping occasions.

5. Alarm clock – Getting to work on time is handy to pay for the apartment you’re living in.

Want to add to the list? You know what to do. Have a dispute? I don’t care. Whoops, I mean, please let me know. My hope is this helps you generate ideas for your own ideal living situation. After all it’s going to be YOUR place, YOUR decisions, and all about, well, YOU! Feels good to hear doesn’t it!

User submitted suggestions:

Batteries – Double A and triple A are the most commonly needed ones! Children’s toys need them, as do Wii remotes, portable controllers, etc. And NOTHING is more a pain in the butt that wanting to use something badly and having to run to the store to get more. I use Sanyo Eneloop batteries. They are rechargeable and sold on amazon.com. This site is my SAVIOR. I’ve tried other brands, but after a years time they just don’t hold the charge.

Extension cords – Quite honestly I’m surprised in myself for not remembering to include this on the list. I literally DEPEND on these things.

Scissors – Yes. You will definitely need these.

Kitchen mats – I will agree with adding this. If you’re spending lengths of time in front of the kitchen sink or stove, standing is a pain on your back and feet. Mats will take some of the hurt away. My mom uses carpeted ones in her kitchen, though I’ve also seen rubber washable ones.

Curtains/ Blinds – I’ve seen some apartment complexes that have buildings side by side, facing each other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my neighbor watching me, no matter WHAT I’m doing.

Toys – No matter who you are, eventually you’re going to have a friend who has kids. And at some point they’re gonna bring those kids over. And how BORING is it being a kid and go to someone’s house and they have nothing for you to do! Disney movies are also your friend if you want to pop one in to entertain the kids for a time.

Tools – I don’t seem to use these as often because I have a great maintainance staff here at my complex. But opening up toys, measuring to fit furniture, and assembling things all need tools like screwdrivers, hammers, tape measures, etc.

Permalink 63 Comments

If you live in a bad apartment complex, what are your options?

August 25, 2008 at 1:02 am (Apartment Living, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

So hey, you found out that your neighbor is a felon, his record is rape. His dog poops in front of your car every morning and pees on your tires. Driving to work would be nice, but your vehicle is damaged beyond recognition because the potholes the parking lot is sporting would make a watermelon look like a pea. There is more drug traffic than cocaine out of Cuba. All you can hear is sirens day and night from the area you live in. And that doesn’t even start on the issues your apartment is having. Your smelly carpet already was stained with substance that you’d prefer not to know the identity of. The dishwasher is broke and you submitted a repair request to maintenance 2 months ago. They are probably still laughing at your request. Tile is falling out of your shower for no good reason, the sink leaks, the walls are paper thin, and as far as your dream living experience is concerned, this is probably as close to a nightmare as it gets.

So, what do you do?

This all depends on the issues you’re having and your situation. Know now that there will always be SOME issues with an apartment complex, whether it be noise, repairs, etc. It’s how it is when many people from different walks of life gather into a small area to become buddy-buddy neighbors. If the issue is repairs, try to stick it out. Put in requests as often as possible and BE PLEASANT. You won’t be moving to the top of their repair list if you act like a great big penis on the phone giving attitude and sass. No one likes it. Ever.

If the walls are paper thin, this can happen in a lot of complexes. There is normal noise that comes with the territory. Sometimes you really will hear a neighbors get together, their TV, them having sex, them moving furniture, etc. It’s just how it is. You do have a right to peace and quiet also. If they are excessively noisy constantly, file complaints. In my apartment complex this is how it works: you call maintenance and let them know your noise issue. They must come to your apartment to witness it. If they hear it, a written warning will be given to the perps. If this happens 3 times total, they are evicted. If this makes you uncomfortable to be so forceful with it, there is also the option of calling the police to have them politely remind your neighbors that their party needs to be toned down. You could also knock on the door yourself with a friendly reminder and an apology that you know they are all having fun, but you need to work the next day and would appreciate if they toned it down a bit. Sometimes people really don’t know if they are being excessive in what they do!

If the issue doesn’t fall under these things and you know deep in your heart of hearts that you absolutely must leave, you can either stick it out the next couple of months and not renew your lease, or you can break it and pay a hefty fee. Usually apartment complexes charge about one months rent to break a lease, sometimes less, sometimes more. But if you’re tearing your hair out that much, perhaps it’s best for peace of mind to do so. If you’re feeling ambitious, let the world know that they did you wrong, and just how they managed to do that. Go to http://www.apartmentratings.com/ and find your apartment complex. Then write a report on exactly what happened and rate them. You may have suffered, but at least people can read your experience and decide if they are willing to tolerate the same thing.

If perhaps you feel absolutely in the right of leaving due to extreme negligence on behalf of the apartment complex itself but feel it’s unfair to pay the fees they request, then contacting a lawyer may be helpful. The website http://www.nolo.com/resource.cfm/catID/31250834-6A2E-4970-9EDD4DAF221A0C7E/104/138/ seems quite helpful in educating renters on their rights. To find your own specific rights, search yahoo or google by typing in “renters rights (insert your state)”. You’ll be able to solve your issue more easily this way by educating yourself.

For those further experienced in the matter, please feel free to contribute your horror stories, helpful hints, or good tips on what to do!

Permalink 4 Comments

Next page »