Desk Makeover

OctMono

My bestie and I moved to Koreatown in Los Angeles back in August, but our efforts to make the place homey have been less than stellar. With Thanksgiving on the horizon – and the promise of visiting guests – we’ve started to put the place together. I hung art in my room, she organized her bathroom, and jointly we bought a cute recliner on sale from IKEA.

About a month ago, I was poring over Craigslist in search of a dining room table when I stumbled across an ad for old student desks. You know the ones – metal body, fake wooden top, made you squirm in first grade. Apparently the seller had a ton, and the more you bought, the better the deal. My DIY instincts kicked in hardcore, and I texted the number listed.

Flash forward a week and I was dragging my roommate across town to meet the guy I dubbed Craigstlist Carlos (CC for short). CC led us to a shabby backyard that was, as promised, filled to the brim with these old desks. We picked the best looking two, I paid him in cash, and were out of there like cats in a lightning storm.

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Before it received a little TLC

The makeover I had planned was largely inspired by a link my cousin // collaborator Jess sent to me on Pinterest. My roommate and I had previously agreed on an ocean // mint-esque color scheme, and so even though I was drooling over the gold, I settled instead for Rustoleum’s Ocean Mist and White Gloss.

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After separating the tops from the bottoms, I followed the instructions on the spray paint. Every 48 hours I would give each piece another coat. Spray painting is harder than it looks, I’ll tell you! Get too close and you cause it to run. Go too far away and you’re just painting the air. It took me 3 cans of Ocean Mist and 2 cans of the White Gloss to finish the project, which was completed over the span of a week and a half. Additionally, I finished the desks with a clear gloss protectant spray.

Midway through coats

Midway through coats

Another thing you learn along the way – the paint comes off very easily. One morning, after having painted the night before, I was moving the lids // desks together in my arms when they bumped up against each other, leaving a small tear in the paint. You have to be very careful, lest they be jostled in any way.

Though slightly imperfect, the desks turned out better than I’d hoped. One we are currently using as an entryway table, the other I’m temporarily utilizing as a mini desk.

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Our new entryway! Baskets courtesy of Target

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I’ve got the feeling it’s going to be a creative fall // winter!

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Frozen 2: My Bank Account

What would you do if you couldn’t spend any money? On just about anything? What if it was no lattes, no nights out with friends, no new gadgets or clothes or magazines? How would you feel?

“No” became my word of the month in June, because I went on a month long spending freeze.

Now, before you panic, know that there were guidelines to this freeze. I didn’t starve myself, or refuse to pay my insurance bill. Originally, I got the idea from Living Well, Spending Less, who developed a nifty little rules sheet. On mine, I promised not to buy fast food, but also promised that I could make a couple exceptions to spend a little cash.

I documented my thoughts for the first couple of weeks, when the freeze was the hardest:

WEEK ONE
– Friends have been told. They think it’s a noble venture, but WILL NOT stop asking when we could go see a movie or go shopping
– I’m starting to go crazy. I’ve made a list of all the things I would buy if my assets weren’t frozen.
– Thank my lucky stars that I’.m well stocked with food & beauty products…I should be okay, right?
– My weekend was spent focusing more on goal setting and being production rather than spent on shopping.
– In lieu of a spa trip, I’m trying a little DIY TLC.

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Ahh – a {free} day spent at the beach with a {free} library book was just what I needed!

WEEK TWO
– Friends are persistently trying to buy me things, so that I can partake in whatever they want to do.
– It has gotten easier not to go out and spend money!
– Has made me realize how much I drop on little things – Starbucks here, piece of clothing there.
– Made a Goodwill drop of clothes that haven’t fit me for a while.
– Still difficult to go out to stores, but the words “spending freeze” make me feel better – means there is no leeway when it comes to spending.
– Instead, I make “wish lists” of things I think I’d like to buy at a later date. Most of the things I don’t even remember afterwards. Thus, not necessary.
– I’m thinking up fun free things to do – went hiking with a group, went to the beach.
– Used up my one exception for mani pedis, had a great time catching up with friends!

As the month went on, it got way easier to not want to spend money. My friends were persistent until the end, though – I think my lack of spending was a) boring to them, since we couldn’t go out and do things that required $$, and b) scary in some ways because some of them make weekly Target trips as a rule.

I estimate that the freeze saved me around $100, if not more, and I look forward to incorporating it as a yearly tradition. Why torture myself like this? Because I never realized how the little things I was purchasing were adding up, causing me to go over budget every month. When the very idea of spending some moolah was taken completely away, I was forced to rethink my leisure time and horde of material possessions (you’re welcome, Goodwill!).

Now, when I shop, I’m extra careful to prioritize my purchases and plan them out ahead of time. I use coupons whenever I can, and keep an eye on my budget like a hawk. I want to be out enjoying life, not worrying about my spending habits 😉

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Keeping that paper

As any person can admit, money and time are always fleeing. Be it we never have enough time or money to do anything. Sadly, the later has been always been my struggle.

2014 was a great year for my finances. I met with a financial adviser; whose sole advice was to focus on my student loans. (A huge blow to my investment and travel dreams) Through this meeting, I was able to finally understand the in’s and out’s of my cash flow. My struggle was {and still is} making sure that my “in’s” balanced out my “out’s”.

I turned to my good friend, Excel. I graphed my way into a full understanding of my debts and savings. I even mapped out how 2014 should be spent-financially speaking. With all of that said and done, I still find myself going over budget. How can you have a plan when the future is so unpredictable?

In times like these, I turn to my most trusted advisor, my yoda, my big sister. With only 1 more year of life experience than myself, she always seems to have a better grip on this adulthood thing. After numerous failed debit and credit card experiences, she holds true to the basic of all budgeting tools: cash.

Cash has always been a tricky concept for me to grasp with. The way I see it, if the cash has left the bank it is already spent. Translation: I go into a black out state and never seem to remember what I spent the cash on, making it spent before I buy anything. There is the problem-I rely too heavily on electronic documentation than take responsibility of where my money is going.

So with the advisement of my yoda, I plan to take my budget and turn it into cash. I plan to pay with cash in order to track and manage my money. Here are is my tool of choice:

Untitled design (7)This beautiful filing system will force me to take responsibility and ownership of where my money goes each week. I plan to budget out food, gas, fun, and Starbucks. (I will phase this out little by little)

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