First Apartment New Year’s Resolutions, Part 1

Well, the New Year is here! The time when we vow to do better. What does that mean for apartment dwellers? In part one, I’ll cover things you can do in your apartment to save you money, as well as improve your living experience. In part two, I’ll cover checking your credit report, which is the irritating sort of task that so many of us put off for too long. But – since we’re not talking about Part 2 today, I’m going to put off the credit report thing (wink, wink) and dive right into three other suggestions help you improve your apartment living in 2012:

Hang Out With Friends At Home

Wait, what? Yes, that’s right, hang out at home. Am I advocating shuttering yourself in? Becoming a hermit? Refusing to talk to your neighbors? No, no and no! What I’m advocating is this: say it’s a Saturday at 8:30 pm and you and a few friends are IMing about what to do that night. Someone suggests y’all meet at a bar, which is pretty par for the course with your crowd.

Don’t do it! Suggest instead that everyone comes to your house and brings something to drink. You’ll provide a six-pack. Why suggest this? First, people actually like being invited to others’ houses, and since this is not a full-blown party, you don’t need to clean anymore than the cursory shoving all your junk under the bed. What you’re doing is setting yourself up for a nice “hang” as the kids say.

Because here’s the big secret: meeting your friends at home is far, far cheaper. Think about it. A six-pack of nice-ish beer costs about twelve dollars. If you go out to a bar, and there’s no happy hour specials, $12 will be enough for two drinks (tip included). So, right there, you’re getting a great value at home. And how many times have you gone out, expecting to just get a drink or two, and ended up blowing fifty or sixty bucks as though it were nothing at all. (There’s the cover to get into the bar that has a band playing that you don’t care about, nachos you have your eye on, and then a late-night pizza afterwards. And then a cab home, since it’s too cold to take the train. Sheesh, you get spendy when you take a night out – and this has probably happened to you more than you want to admit.) So, have people over instead.

Make a habit of it. Different friends can host different nights so you still get a chance to leave your place and avoid cabin fever. It can be fun and social, plus, home is quieter and more relaxing than the bar. Or, if you like the bar atmosphere and/or want to meet new people in a public setting, pre-party, so you only have to buy one drink out, even as you’re flirting up a storm.

Brew Your Coffee At Home or Join Your Work’s Coffee Club.

Have you priced a Starbucks Grande recently? Seriously, is that a mortgage down payment they’re asking for, or what? And is their coffee really that good? I mean, please. It’s not. Plus, if you must have Starbucks, you can buy their coffee in bulk and brew it yourself for far cheaper. (You also get a free cup of coffee whenever you buy your pound of  Starbucks.) It might not seem like a big deal, but a couple bucks a day really adds up – remember, there are 365 days in a year, and if you multiply that by two or three … well. If I were you, I’d rather have the money. This website helpfully allows you to calculate how much you’d save if you just joined your office’s coffee club – and that doesn’t even include weekends.  Yes, that’s right, we’re looking at $800 in savings. Hmmmm … with that type of savings, you may be reading “MyFirstCondo” in a few years, if you see what I mean.

Replace Some Furniture

This is a more fun resolution. You get to spend money and improve your apartment. If you’re anything like me, you have one or two pieces of furniture that are absolute junk, that you’ve been using because they’re there, but that could stand to be upgraded. Sometimes, it’s not worth the extra money, but if, say, your couch gives you a backache, or you don’t have enough chairs for everyone in your apartment to sit around the dining room table, or you’ve had a magazine under one leg of the coffee table to keep it from wobbling, you should upgrade. Because, after all, despite what you may have assumed from above, being cheap isn’t an end in and of itself, and if you’re saving money by having people over, rather than going to bars, and by brewing your own coffee in the morning, but you’re not using some of that money to improve your day-to-day quality of life, you’ve got a problem.

So: identify the piece of furniture you most want to replace and start researching a good replacement. Go for a good value – which doesn’t mean the cheapest replacement possible, but the replacement that will last the longest and is of the best quality while still being within your budget. Buy the furniture and enjoy it. You’ll thank me later. Trust me.

Next week, it’ll be onto the most dread of resolutions: the credit report! Until then, ta-ta!

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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