Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Ideas

shutterstock_126704333Valentine’s Day is great, but sometimes I wish that St. Valentine had his day sometime that was not right after I had finally paid off my credit card from Christmas.

I mean, get serious, I just them all of this stuff and now, I have to not only come up with yet another gift idea, I also have to come up with enough cash to buy it?! No wonder so many people wind up alone between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Here are 3 gift ideas for Heart Day:

Shop for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas when everything’s on sale. If you’re me, this will never EVER happen, but if you’re someone who actually plans ahead and haven’t already thought of this, get on it!

Make a mixed tape. Or CD. Or playlist. I know in the magic world of Spotify and iTunes, mixed tapes seem like a thing of the past, but if you put a bunch of songs on a playlist and then, write down the lines that make you think of your significant other, you’re sure to get some points.

shutterstock_131628698Cook, or buy food and say you cooked it. A nice meal with candles, Christmas lights that you still haven’t taken down and paper hearts dangling from the ceiling is always a hit. Maybe you can have your mixed tape playing as background music.

Just remember, money doesn’t always say I love you. Sometimes, a thoughtful gift is more meaningful than an expensive one when it comes down to it.

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Surviving Wet Weather

shutterstock_110038097With the winter months in full swing, this can cause fun and joy for people, but apartment damages can also occur.   With just a few tips, a resident can ensure that their home is protected from rain and snow damages which can save your initial deposit money or protect you from possible apartment charges.

With the rain and snow, walking into your home with wet shoes causes the most damage to carpets and flooring.  Once the carpet is wet and not cleaned up as soon as possible, mold and odors can quickly occur and that could be an expensive repair.

Most owners will charge you the cost of replacing carpeting and flooring if you have only lived in your home less than one year if water damages occur.

shutterstock_135892928If you haven’t purchased some preventive winter items, now is the time to take a quick assessment of your home.  Buying some exterior and interior door mats are essential to wipe up the rain and snow from the shoes before and after entering the home.  A resident can also purchase some plastic runners that can be placed in strategic places in the home to protect the flooring.

Also, do not forget that children’s wet clothes that are placed on the bathroom floor for an extended time period can also cause unnecessary water damage. A plastic waterproof hamper works wonders to safeguard wet clothes from lying on the floor which prevents damages.  So, enjoy the rain and snow with the family, but protect the basic essentials of your home and ensure you receive your deposit back.

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Worst Case Scenario

shutterstock_16749007When confronted with an issue, we want to know what extremes we may be dealing with. Thus the term worst-case scenario creates a thought process that takes us through many steps in our minds. In other words, whatever the scenario may be, just how bad can it get? Can it be nipped in the bud; will it progress beyond our wildest imagination, and what type of preparation may be needed?

According to Webster “a Worst Case Scenario is a noun phrase meaning a speculation or prediction as to what would happen if everything turned out as badly as possible.” Every now and then we hear the phrase referring to an event in the news where there is talk of what might take place if this or that doesn’t turn out well. In order to provide a better understanding of this concept, it’s best to cite specific examples of how it has been used.

When Greece was faced with heavy debt it pledged action to trim its deficit when there were warnings of the possibility of a worst-case scenario “orderly default” for the country with a population of over 11 million. This came about due to money or the lack of

it. Speaking of the money connection, there is the the scenario of a job loss where you might be forced to move back in with your parents due to lack of funds for essential survival.

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

Believe it or not, there is a Worst-Case Scenario Survival Board Game. Additionally, the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook features the subject of how to wrestle free from an Alligator if its jaws are clamped on a limb or something personal that you’d like to remove from its mouth.

No matter what, there will always be a worst-case scenario!

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Get Your Apartment Move-Out Ready

RV_Moving-CouchGetting your apartment move-out ready is always a chore. You already know you have to do a thorough cleanup. So we’re going to focus on some of the tasks that even your landlord might have overlooked on the move-out checklist – but might find later and ding you for if you don’t take care of them.

Step One: Move All Your Stuff Out

This is pretty basic. You can’t do a final cleaning if there are boxes piled around the apartment. Get all of your things out before you make a run at it. If you decide to clean room-by-room, don’t put anything back into a room once it has been cleaned.

Step Two: Examine the Walls

Go over every wall inch by inch with a knife or pliers and remove every tack, nail, hook, staple, or anything that is currently in or on the wall. Then wipe down the entire wall and repair any holes.

To repair a hole in drywall, get a putty knife, some light spackle, and a fine-grit sanding sponge from your local hardware store. Clean out the hole as best you can. Then use the knife to apply a little more spackle than is needed to fill the hole, and scrape it as flat as you can. Let it dry, then use the sanding sponge to get rid of any unwanted lumps and bumps. If the spackle shrinks too much as it dries, you might have to repeat the process once or twice until it sets without a gap.

Step Three: Examine the Lighting

After you’ve cleaned the lighting and ceiling fans, step back and look at the room. If it looks dim or dark, invest in brighter light bulbs. This is a pure psychological trick, but it works. Brightly-lit rooms look cleaner than dim rooms, and this alone should help prevent your landlord from viewing a space as dirty.

RV_Fixing-PlumbingStep Four: Replace Anything Broken

If anything in the apartment is broken – bent blinds, doorknobs that won’t lock, anything that doesn’t work like it should – replace it. You’ll spend less money on the replacement than the landlord will charge you to fix these items. This only goes for things that are broken beyond regular wear and tear, which the landlord should be responsible for. However, don’t choose this time to spring news of a leaky faucet on your landlord. If you don’t report repair and maintenance requests in a timely fashion, you could end up footing the bill at move out time.

Step Five: Clean the Vents

Don’t forget to clean the bathroom fan, the fan over the stove, and the fan on the back of the fridge.

Step Six: Document Everything

Document what you did, and what your apartment looked like when you moved out. Take pictures or, even better, a video of everything in the apartment so you’ll have proof of the condition you left the apartment in.

Getting an apartment ready to move out is not easy. But there is generally at least a few hundred dollars on the line, so putting in the effort will be worth your while.

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New Year, New Goals

shutterstock_133605077New year, new goals… Right? I am the queen of talking about resolutions, setting goals, making lists, and then almost instantly forgetting they ever existed. But things are going to change in 2015.

In my quest to create a fresh start this year, I was determined to figure out why I failed in the past. I realized the entire process I went through was to blame. For example, my goals the last few years have all been business related. How boring is that? Not to mention completely unbalanced. I’ve learned that for the changes to stick around for more than a week or two, my personal life needs just as much focus as my professional life.

Below are a few more of my favorite tips for New Year’s goal setting. Maybe one of two of the tips will give you your own a-ha moment.


  1. Set realistic and attainable goals. This doesn’t mean that you should shy away from huge goals. It just means that you need to break it into smaller milestones that can be accomplished throughout the year.
  1. Create goals for all aspects of your life. This includes professional, relationship, spiritual, financial, and even things like health and wellness.
  1. shutterstock_115171954Measure! Maybe this is my analytical side coming into play, but I love being able to measure progress. Why not create goals that are measurable over short periods of time?
  1. Write them down. This probably goes without saying, but it is important to keep your goals in a place that allows you to see them often. My favorite thing to do is to change my computer wallpaper frequently, and each month it features a new goal.

Do you have any New Year’s goals you want to share? Or maybe your own tips to keeping your goals this year?

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How to Make Your Rental Feel like a Home  

RV_Kitchen-SpaceThere are many good things to be said about renting, but one common complaint is that a rental never quite has the same feel to it that a home does. Even when you’ve lived in an apartment for years, it might get familiar, but it rarely feels homey. It turns out, there are some pretty clear reasons why this is the case. Once you understand the reasons, you’ll understand how to make your rental truly feel like home.

Spartan Style

The primary problem with apartments is that they’re carefully designed to be neutral, so no applicant is immediately turned off – neutral off-white walls, neutral tan floors, neutral wood moldings, etc. Naturally, the first step toward making your rental feel like home is to restyle. Even if your landlord does not allow you to paint the walls, put up some removable wallpaper to add the color you need. Don’t be afraid to add artwork or personal photos to the walls. Even just adding a rug and some new window treatments can go a surprisingly long way. Continue reading

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Save On Winter Bills

shutterstock_102150151During winter, there are many ways you can help reduce your energy bills and still enjoy the season.  Some gas utilities offer discount bills for lower income residents, the elderly, or others offer discounts if you have a certain type of furnace.  All it takes is a telephone call to see if your gas or electric company offer discounts for the winter season.

Even if you do not qualify for any discounts, most utility companies offer to spread out winter payments over the entire year or over a six month period.  Since you can expect during the rainy season to get cold for many days, the gas and electric bills tend to be highest during these months.  Before you know it, one month of gas or electricity could add up to a couple of hundred dollars!   It is easier to spread out payments over several months unless you can afford high monthly winter bill payments.

Also, if you have a fireplace, now would be a good time to light it often which would help warm the home and reduce the winter bills.  If you did not get some thermal underwear for the holidays, this is another good option for the family to wear those pajama type items since they are designed to keep you warm and, therefore, less heat is needed.

shutterstock_113370745For more warmth, without setting the heat temperature gauge on high, get those extra blankets for the family and obtain an inexpensive heating pad which works wonders to keep family members warm.  You can relax and enjoy the winter season while you keep the bills in balance and do not forget to obtain some hot beverages and soups items for the family to delight in and keep them warm on for those cold days and nights.

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How to Land an Awesome Apartment — Fast!

Swimming Pool at Apartment ComplexWhen you need a new place to live right now, life can be quite stressful. The last thing you want is to be left couch-surfing at friends’ places or living with relatives. So if you need a place to live, and it needs to be awesome, and it needs to be now, here is our best advice:

Call On Friends and Family

Don’t be shy. Put together an email or compose a post for social media. Email and social share with everyone who lives anywhere near your prime location. Include your name, your job, your price range, a short blurb about your best traits, and you absolutely must include a line that says something like “please share this with anyone you trust from this area.” The tone of the post also must show humility and gratitude. Finally, if you can offer some sort of incentive to anyone whose help ends up landing you a place to live, your chances of success will accelerate. Continue reading

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Decorating Your Home with Plants

shutterstock_188373Plants can give your new apartment home a great look. When placed in different areas of the home plants make a home look rather special and not have a run of the mill look. This is especially true, as some apartment communities will not let their tenant paint. Therefore plants can be used instead of paint for decorating your home. Your home will of course look unique as the plants would be of your choosing. Once you have decided to decorate with plants you are ready for a trip to the store.


It is easy to buy plants at your local hardware store or even your local plant specialty store. Choose plants that can fit your space and are from your area, tropical plants may not fare well in cold climates and cold climate plants may not like an abundance of sunshine. Try to compliment your décor, if you have dark furniture then add some color with red leafy plants or plants that bear some flowers.

Ask questions when you are at the plant store. Even your local hardware store has a knowledgeable staff that can help you choose the correct plant for your lifestyle. Don’t buy yet though, there is more to choosing. Ask your friends and family which plants they would decorate with and see if you can visit a garden club.

shutterstock_93659323Also after your visit to the plant store take a look through designer magazines or even take a trip to your local bookstore where you can browse the pages of plant books to get some decorating tips. Now that you have some indication of the type of plant you want, you can see how others have used the same plant to decorate. Getting ideas can go a long way in helping you decorate.

Now that you have gained some ideas on decorating and some ideas on plant types make another trip to the store of you choice and bring home a plant that can help your new place look like home. Take care of your plant and you will have beauty and enjoyment for a while.

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Preparing for the End of Year Holiday

679415_35685908stockxchngThe holidays are just around the corner and whether you celebrate Christmas or just having company over your home, ensure you get owner approval on decorating ideas for these holiday parties.

Many residents enjoy placing lights around their residence this time of year and you may need to ensure that there is not an owner or hazard problem with the lighting.  So, checking with your leasing office or owner of your residence helps you to save time and money before you buy the lighting, and then work to place them all around your home just to discover there is some city code or ordinance that prevents certain lighting.

Some properties allow front yard holiday themed decorations, but contact your leasing office personnel for approval on decorations that are allowed.   If you have a Christmas party, ensure you have pre-approved any parking spaces for your visitors or overnight guests well in advance since parking permits can be limited during this popular holiday.

Also, set aside enough money for food or exigencies and if money is an issue, opt for a family or friends to bring a dish, attend a charity function that offers meals, or resolve to limit your party to an early or late light meal party.

5262523964_7664e65e73_zFor Christmas music, there many websites nowadays where you can download Christmas music for free or have minimal costs.  Also, you can check your neighborhood discount stores for inexpensive songs and do not underestimate visiting your local libraries.  The local libraries offer Christmas music to rent and the costs  in this entertainment area would be none other than purchase of a simple library card!

With a little imagination, you can cut costs, and have a safe and happy Christmas.

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