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Friday, July 29, 2011

First Apartment Drama: Things You Should Learn

Just before you leave home there are a few basic things you should learn to do. Some of them are going to sound silly but hey, somewhere out there some lost soul is unaware of what they are missing out on.

1.      Learn to cook
One cannot live on take-out and Mr. Noodles alone. You need some nutrition in your life otherwise you’re going to get scurvy or a deficiency of some sort. Now I understand that cooking is not for everyone but at least learn to do some basic things like rice, eggs, boiling water, and cooking some form of meat. Ask someone you know to give you hand or write down a few pointers. There are also some great literary references you can invest in that will really help you out, a lot are actually aimed at college students who are getting their first place. Two cookbooks out of my collection that I really enjoy are Jamie’s Food Revolution and Everyday Food: Great Food Fast.

Jamie’s Food Revolution is the first cookbook of Jamie Oliver’s that I can actually use. Not because the recipe’s in his other books suck (they are actually awesome) it’s that I’m not fond of the page layouts. I’m really fussy when it comes to cookbooks but I use this one a lot, I find the recipes are simple, delicious, open to your own variations, the book is organized really well. He really tried to target this book at people who do not know how to cook.

Everyday Food sometimes has unique ingredients (it is a Martha Stewart book after all), but I really enjoy how recipes are divided into seasons. This gives one a greater idea of what produce is in season and taste best. Certainly you can cook these recipes anytime of year, but I thought it was a unique concept dividing them by season. I highly recomend the recipie for Creamy Broccoli Soup because it tastes fine by itself or with some additions like crackers and cheese.
Unlike my other books, which I never dog-ear or mark in, I love to write in cookbooks. I can remind myself what recipes I like, ones I don’t, changes I’ve made to recipes, or note another recipie that paired really well with another.

2.  Learn to do laundry
As Rachel Green pointed out, not everyone knows how to do laundry when they move out. If you do not have laundry facilities at your new place, scout out Laundromats around town. Make note what type of payment the machines take cause if they use quarters you can remember to save all of yours for laundry day. Don’t just throw everything in together; learn to read the labels on your clothing. Again you may want to ask someone you know for advice on laundry or you can check out Laundry Labels or How to do Laundry

3. Learn how to manage your finances
This is probably the most important thing to learn because you need to know how to budget so that all the bills are paid and you still have money left for food and other expenses. Try to make a routine out of it so you get into the habit of paying bills, transferring money when necessary, etc. Every paycheck I like to assess my bank account, make sure I have enough to take care of my living accommodations, then I move so much into a savings account for school, my budget for personal money I can blow on non-essential items, and my Christmas Fund. I love my Christmas Fund because during the summer when I’m working full-time I can actually have the money I need for getting Christmas presents before school starts. This means when I'm back in classes and only working weekends, I don’t have to worry about having money saved for Christmas.

Since you’re learning to budget it is also wise to consider getting a credit card. If you’re a student some banks offer a special credit card that cuts you a break on banking fees. Having one will help build your credit rating so if you ever need a loan, they can see what a good banker you are and approve the loan. But beware! Don’t use your credit card for everything, preferably it should be kept for emergencies or purchases you know you can pay off at months end. I use my credit card for groceries because I know I can pay it off each month and I get extra air miles at the store for using it.

There you have it, three things that are important to learn when you get your own place. Hope you find it useful!


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