In a few weeks my fiance and I will be moving to Des Moines to start living in the "real world". He is graduating from college and I will be continuing my education in the area. Since this will obviously be our first time out on our own, I am in desperate need of some tips!
He will be getting an internship to help get his foot in the door, (it doesn't pay unless he does "extra stuff") and I will be going to school and working. Any tips on how to save money would be appreciated. Also, any insight to decorating or organizing an apartment will come in handy as well.
It reminds me of my grad student days. Take advantage of all the student offers you can! Try to furnish your apt. with nice used furniture - even if you have to fix it up a bit - Since minimalism is now a fashion trend, the fact that you don't have a lot can be put to your advantage as a design feature. We used thick foam pads instead of a mattress - and didn't have any window dressings per se. Use your books as a fashion statement - as you will have a lot of them. You could even use piles of them to hold up your lamps, etc. at first! Get nice posters to tack on the walls - use push pins - Make sure you have color coordinated so that it looks pulled together. Make lamps of bottles w/bottle lamp kits you find in hardware stores, and dime store shades....or get them in thrift shops. READ THIS SITE!!! and good luck...
Try craigslist.com and look for yard sales coming up in the next few months. I am getting married in June and we are buying a house, and we found a yardsale where the couple gave us everything from a Christmas tree to linens and glassware, and found a bunch of things on craigslist for free, including an entire bedroom set.
Here is an article that I was looking at earlier today on this site that might have some tips that you can use. Don't worry that everything isn't perfect, you have time to get to that point as you both start making money. Save all you can now. The biggest advice I can give is to resist eating out. Learning how to cook foods you both like will save you a ton of money and will help you when you want to start that family. Cook together and try out different things or replacements for your favorite restaurant meals. Also, go easy on buying stuff. Don't use credit cards, treat it like a challenge to live within the money you have each month.
When I had my first "grown up" apartment with my future husband, I didn't have money for a coffee table but I had a nice looking wide board left over from some project or another. I put it on top of a couple of milk crates, put a rug on top as decoration, with some candles and such. I remember some of my friends coming over and declaring how nice and grown up everything looked. They didn't even notice the milk crates. Put yourselves into making this first home and it will show, no matter what furnishings you have. Oh, enjoy! I had such a good time at this part of my life and I'm sure you will too.
Jess in Portland
I have been reading about using envelopes to help budget. This is probably a really dumb question, but it seems rather unheard of to pay bills in cash, unless you can go to the place and personally hand it to them. So, I guess my question is, do you cash your check, put the money in the corresponding envelopes, and then deposit it in the bank to pay the bills with a check or what? It seems like a really good idea, I'm just not understanding the actual "payment" part I guess.
Find pleasure in the simpler things in life; take walks in the local park or ride your bikes if you have some.
Go to the public library and ask about any free programs that they may be aware of, my library in the last town I lived in had things like free movie passes, free adult programs like "antique appraisals" and guest speakers.
Pay cash for everything, I used the envelope method when I first moved out on my own. Figure out each of your bills, write the amount on the envelope, divide the amount by the week, and put that needed amount in the envelope each week.
Menu plan your meals for each day and stick with it! Don't grab food at the fast food places or the corner coffee house, you end up spending more money and not eating as healthy.
Cook homemade meals and make them special by lighting candles and serving your beverage in some pretty glasses (that you buy at the thrift shop, of course!) Learn to thrift shop and garage sale, let someone else pay the big bucks for new things and you pay the cheap price once they sell it! I learned to love used things a long time ago; when I buy a pretty tea cup from the thrift shop I imagine the person who cared for it before me and I am thankful that I kept it out of the landfill! Anything can be fixed up to look nice. Old tables can be spray painted to look new, chairs can be recovered, used sheets can be cut and sewn into curtains, suitcases stacked upon one another can be used as an endtable and provide storage too! My most favorite possessions are the things that I either bought at garage sales, thrift stores, or even got for free from the curb, and I refinished them in some way. I have painted a crackle finish on an old table and blanket chest, I painted an old sewing cabinet to give it a fresh look, and I have covered chairs with new fabric and have even used old sheets.
For wall decor I have used old calendar pictures placed in dollar store frames. I have also bought framed artwork at garage sales; pry off the back, take out the old picture, and put in a new poster or picture, and you have artwork that suits your taste. You can hang anything on the walls that you like; I have seen old hats hung all over a wall and that was very unique. How about some maps that you stain with a little dark stain to make them look old? What ever you like, start a theme and hang items on the wall to decorate it.
Don't waste your money on cable tv, you two will be working hard and you will be going to school and studying, you won't have time to waste in front of the tv! So many of my friends have all the pay movie channels that are offered, and then are constantly gone from home with all the kids' school activities, and they never watch all those movie channels anyway.
Don't try to keep up with the Joneses, as the saying goes. Life isn't a competition to see who can use up the most material goods on our earth and fill up the landfill the fastest. Simplify! You will be much happier in the long run!
Best wishes and good luck to you in your new home in Des Moines!
To afielder..I believe that you can take the money that is in the envelopes and convert it into money orders to pay your bills...If you deposit it in the bank you might slip up and spend more than you were surpose to... (just a thought) This was the first time I ever heard about the envelope method also... i to think its a good idea.
May I also suggest that you ask your parents for necessities that they no longer need/want/would have given you anyway, such as linen, furnishings, crockery, etc. All my life I have been using heirlooms, which, I suppose, were cast-offs at a time long ago! I have also told my children that, should they want something from my home, they must just ask! This way, you may inherit good quality items with sentimental value.
Regarding the system of putting money in envelopes, in my experience, the money makes money by drawing interest in the bank. I receive my salary on the 15th, and it remains in the bank until I have to pay my municipal account (rates, sanitation, water, electricity) and my telephone account. These amounts vary from one month to the next, but they have to be paid regardless. My fixed expenses, such as bond, car payments, insurance are paid by debit order from my bank account. I would like to suggest that you leave your money in your account and decide/budget how much is needed for each item. When the decided amount has been spent, no more spending! It is as easy to budget on paper and keep track of expenses in writing as it is to keep money in envelopes or glass jars.
Remeber, you do not need to have everything AT ONCE! Take time to look around and make sure what you like and what your style is before spending your precious money on something that maybe you could become tired of.
Feedback Number 2!
I pay my municipal and telephone accounts by MasterCard.
Go on line (My favorite saying) Look up the area you are moving to.Get some maps so you can get an idea of the streets.Check the local Chamber of commerce. Or maybe http://www.ci.des-moines.ia.us/ . See where the parks are, libraries, etc.
Then you won't feel so disoriented. When you are there, watch the T.V news and Weather. Look up the town or street they mention (A few a day.)
This helped me a lot when we moved to Pittsburgh from Massachusetts.I was sooo disoriented. You can find out here the free activities. You may find friends at the library etc. Then you can network with them. Good luck!
Another way is to check out freecycle.org for your local freecycle group and become a member. You can avoid spending on some item like bookshelves, tables, chairs etc...by getting them free from people who want to get rid of theirs. I got my garage storage free from a few freecyclers, also a dining table and some bookshelves. Best of luck.
AROUND THIS TIME OF YEAR ALL THE COLLEGES HAVE STUDENTS ABOUT TO GRADUATE AND THEY TEND TO THROW OUT TERRIFIC THINGS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO PAY A MOVER TO SEND THE STUFF HOME. EACH SCHOOL USUALLY HAS A PLACE THAT YOU CAN PUT STUFF THAT IS UNWANTED. ALSO DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CRUISE KNOWN STUDENT AREAS FOR STUFF. THE THINGS PEOPLE THROW OUT FOR RUBBISH CAN BE FANTASTIC. ONE LAST THING. TELL EVERYONE THAT YOU NEED FURNITURE. WHEN I MOVED INTO MY APARTMENT I HAD NOTHING, BUT PEOPLE GAVE ME A QUEEN BED AND MATTRESS AND ALL MY FURNITURE WAS USED. CHECK YARD SALES AND RUMMAGE SALES.PLEASE DO NOT PUT UP A SHOWER CURATIN OR SHEETS FOR WINDOW CURTAINS. IT ALWAYS LOOKS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS, WHICH IS TACKY. I HAVE GOTTEN BEAUTIFUL TAB CURTAINS BRAND NEW, IN THE ORIGINAL PACKAGE FOR 25 CENTS A PAIR. BE OPEN AND EASY GOING AND YOU WILL GET BARGAINS GALORE AND HAVE THE MONEY THAT YOU WOULD HAVE SPENT TO TREAT YOUR HUSBAND AND YOURSELF EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE.
From one Iowan to another... make sure to caulk around windows to keep out the cold and heat. In the winter, get those "window plastic kits", and be sure to plug every nook and cranny where cold air can get in. In the summer, keep your shades/drapes pulled and use fans if you don't have a/c. And don't forget to spend a few bucks and get a humidifier - you'll be surprised how much warmer it keeps the house! Can't afford a humidifier? Simply keep a teapot simmering on the stove when you're home. It keeps moisture in the air, which makes it feel warmer. The same holds true for a DE-humidifier in the summer! The humidity is a killer! If you can't afford one, just keep those doors and windows CLOSED to keep the humidity out!
And be sure and look into budget billing from your power supplier! Good luck!
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