Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flying the Nest

In this blog, I might come across as a bit of a judgmental a-hole. Just a warning. But I’m not a complete a-hole because I recognize that my opinions are just opinions and not necessarily the way things have to be. I also might get my ass kicked for this blog because I am using people I love as examples to prove my point. Just be ready for a fight if you come after me because I aint going down without one!

I moved out on my own when I was nineteen-years-old for reasons that are revealed in Falling into Place; reasons which I am really considering talking about on this blog. My only hesitation is that what I put on the internet stays on the internet forever and I want to remain on the good terms I’ve finally obtained. Long story…

Anyway, there is something that happens to you when you live on your own. You look at the world in a completely different way. You become a survivor, a warrior who fights to make the impossible become possible for you.

Once I flew the nest, moving back in with my mother was out of the question! I just knew that I had to make this work.

At the time I was working part-time at the Gap and my paycheck was absolutely flaky. This part-time pay was my only income which I stretched to cover everything I needed; barely. Today I look back and wonder how the hell I did it. Although at times I had to search under my bed and dig into couch cushions looking for change so that I could buy a Metrocard, I always had money for the rent and I always had food to eat.

Today, less and less people believe in God, but there is so, so much more to this story that makes me making it to where I am today nothing short of a miracle.

A friend helped me to find a room to rent. I wasn’t making what the landlord required to rent a room in his house, but for miraculous reasons, he lowered the rent to a number he knew I would be able to afford. I think my rent for the room was $380 a month with utilities included. There was no cable, there was no internet, and there was no cell phone. Just me, my television with fuzzy channels and my home phone.

Living on your own, you acquire an unshakeable independence and determination that no one can take away from you. Sometimes I think that I am too independent and it gives people the impression that I don’t need them. And I won’t ask for help because I’m on some sort of power trip fueling my ego; patting myself on the back all the way. I am needy, I just don’t exude neediness less someone think I need them. It’s a very sick game I like to play with myself.

Another reason for my independence is because my mom made me that way. I’m totally against the outrageous amount of chores that she gave me to do which sometimes interfered with my schoolwork, but in the end, it’s what helped me to become a strong woman.  

Now that I’ve given a little bit of background about myself, I’ll begin with my judgmental opinions.

There are adults in my life that I love dearly, from the bottom of my heart, who lived at home much longer than they should have. There is such a difference in the way they see the world and they way they handle their lives from the way people who left home at an earlier age handle their lives.

From the age of ten, my mom began giving me chores to do. For example, (a gross example, I apologize) I once made the mistake of eating mangoes and drinking milk at the same time. Needless to say, the two didn’t go together in my stomach…and they don’t go together outside of the stomach either.

Sitting on my bed, I felt queasy. I knew I was going to barf, and as I barfed all over my sheets, I just knew my mom was going to clean it up for me, because up until that point she had done everything for me; especially when I was sick. But this time, when I called out for my mom to help me, she handed me a roll of paper towels and said, “You knew you were going to be sick and you could have gotten up and gone to the bathroom, but you didn’t. You clean it up.” This was the beginning of me learning how to do things for myself.

Part of the reason for my mom’s ‘it’s time to grow up’ lesson came from the fact that a baby had recently been added to the mix so she had to stop treating me like one.

As I got older the chores became more complicated and consuming. It was difficult; like having a job and trying to balance high school at the same time. I was exhausted! One of the two had to give so school became number two on my priority list. Who makes their child put chores before their education?? I certainly did not have a normal upbringing. It’s a miracle that I graduated on time.

Although I don’t plan on doling out the same amount of chores to my children when they exist, I will give them chores; just not as strenuous. Having such a heavy amount of chores made me self sufficient and I take pride in the fact that I can do almost anything on my own.

A friend of mine, was never given chores and as someone who has had about 90% of everything done for her in her life, she is a different kind of human being (ahem, princess). Because she’s had everything done for her, she believes that she can’t do certain things and most of the time, she doesn’t even try. A task as simple as going to the supermarket becomes impossible to her because she doesn’t know how to get the groceries from the supermarket to her home. Why? Because she believes that she can’t carry them by herself.

It’s the same as with someone who has the highest paying job you can imagine. Because their assistant does everything for them, they can't manage the simple task of figuring out how to work the copy machine. It’s as if a section of the brain stops working when people have too much aid. I feel like the same kind of mental shut down happens when grownups live at home for too long.

Living at home doesn’t give you a real idea of what it is to be an adult. I don’t care how many bills you pay on your own or if your parents no longer question you about what time you will be home. There is a window in which you should leave the nest. I believe it’s before you turn thirty. If you miss that window of opportunity to leave the nest, you run the risk of being a little spoiled / stunted by the comforts of being surrounded by your family on a day to day basis. It inhibits you mentally and socially.

The fact that you haven't detached your umbilical cord affects the relationships you have outside of your family. It limits your ability to function on your own as an individual. You lose touch with society and become unable to make decisions about your life because you are always afraid of being by yourself or you always second guess your decisions for fear of disappointing those around you.

I try not to be judgmental, but I’m not perfect. I know what its like to be judged (a blog in the making) and it just makes me feel like whoever is judging me believes that they are better than me. So who am I to say when adults should stop living at home?

I have a lot of friends, and I have seen the result of adults staying at home with their parents play out repeatedly with both men and women so I'm not talking about one gender specifically. There is a definite double standard so it’s more forgivable when a woman lives at home until she gets married.  

Like I said, who am I to be the ‘move out by thirty’ police? But I've seen adult’s brains shut down and their lives come to a halt due to the fact that they missed the window of opportunity to gain their independence. By missing the window, they stop striving for the goals they used to have and they begin to exist in their lives instead of live their lives.

I'm not American, but I was raised in America making me mostly American. I understand that certain cultures like Latin and Indian families for example, don't force their kids to leave home. They want to keep their families together so the children are encouraged to live at home for as long as they want. Having a family situation that doesn’t force you to move out by a certain age is great! If I didn't have to move out, who knows when I would have left. (Well I'm kind of strong willed and I've never been someone who could be contained, so even if I didn't leave home when I did, I probably would have left shortly after.) But in a sad observation, I’ve seen what happens to adults who still live at home past the age of thirty. They begin to wither away as they try to please everyone around them. Living at home, your family members expect things from you and the longer you live there, the higher the expectations become. It just stifles you from doing what you should be doing; what you want to do for your own life as an individual… and you never truly… grow up.

I have a friend who repeatedly tried to move out, but each time she tried, her mom gave her a severe guilt trip so my friend wasn’t able to move out until she got married. It would have benefited her to live on her own, even for a year.

One of the side effects of her not living on her own (I believe) is that she has a hard time dealing with dilemmas. When problems come her way, she allows the problem to handle her instead of her handling the problem. Sometimes an issue is very small, but it becomes bigger to her than it should be. She crumples under the slightest amount of stress. She is so much stronger than she thinks she is and she has proven this to herself plenty of times. I believe that if she had taken the opportunity to live on her own, she would realize how much stronger she is than she believes.

In the past, men who lived at home with their parents were never a deal breaker for me. I had a male friend who lived at home but it didn’t stop him from having functioning, serious relationships so I never gave ‘dating men who live at home’ a second thought.

When I met a young gent who still lived at home with his parents, a male friend of mine warned me not to get involved with someone who still lived at home, but I was too na├»ve and I didn’t listen…. But after the experience I had, I will never date a man who still lives with his parents ever again.

A man could be temporarily living with his parents because he got laid off or because he just bought a house and is having it renovated before he moves in, but based on the experience I had, I will run away immediately.

At the time, though, walking away from the man who lived with his parents is not what I did. Love got in the way, clouded my brain and made me do the exact opposite; and I learned a painful lesson.

When a man lives with his family, you as the woman will never be number one. There will always be someone to compete with and when there is a blood line involved, the woman on the outside of the blood line will never win. A man can’t focus on making you number one if he hasn't completely severed his umbilical cord.

Women don’t seem to have a problem making their man number one regardless of whether they still live with their parents or not. Wonder why that is…

And that male friend of mine with the ‘functioning serious relationships’ finally moved into his own place, but he is single today and has been single for a long time… My theory is that he took too long to leave the nest. If your family members are the only people you socialize with, it affects the way you socialize and relate to those outside of your family…. I’m no sociologist; I’m just an opinionated mind going by what I have observed.

There is an exception to all of my opinions, and like I said, who the hell am I to say what the acceptable age is to leave home? There are many reasons why people remain living with their parents for longer periods of time, especially in this day and age with people getting laid off left and right. If your parents respect your space, your life and respect you as an adult, why leave home??? Stay there and save your loot so that you can put your money into owning a house instead of throwing it away on renting an apartment. Had my situation been different, that’s what I would have done, but my freedom and normalcy is worth each and every cent that I have ever spent towards living on my own.

~Louise C.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ways to Save your Loot

I've always been serious beyond my years as far as trying to make wise decisions for myself so that my life can be easy and so that I can have nice things; and I’ve always had this sense of entitlement. I feel like I deserve lots of things and none of the ‘things’ I feel I deserve are cheap. My life would be easier if I came down off my high horse, but NO! I am Louise Cazley and I deserve good things!

To have good things, you need money. And to have money, you need to stop spending. And to stop spending, you need to suppress all shopping addictions, focus on what you need and not want you want.

Once I decide that I am saving, I become the cheapest individual alive. I take self control to an extreme level, but it’s for me so it’s for a good cause. Here are a few steps I have taken to help myself save.

I Ignore Sale Prices
I used to buy something not because I wanted or needed it, but because it was on sale. This is the fastest way to clutter your home with things you will never ever use. Now, before purchasing something I ask myself where I am going to put the item, what am I going to use the item for or what am I going to wear the item with and if I can’t come up with an answer, I leave the item in the store.

I Stopped Shopping
Although my shopping addiction is currently dormant, it is still alive and thriving, just waiting for the summer fashions to hit stores (I love dresses!) so that it can unleash itself in me. Despite my pulsating addiction, I made the decision to stop shopping.

This fall I gave away FIVE hefty garbage bags of clothes to Grow NYC - Wearable Collections. I gave MULTIPLE bags of clothing to multiple friends and I still have enough clothing to never ever shop again and remain fashionable for the rest of my life. Giving away so much of my clothes was a sickening wake up call and it's amazing just how much money you can save when you aren't blowing your money on things you don’t need.

I Don’t Pay Full Price
I won't pay full price for anything if I can help it. I’ve become a collector of Bed Bath and Beyond’s coupons which you can use on everything in their store. They even accept expired coupons and I’ve heard that they also accept coupons from Buy Buy Baby. Most people don’t know that Bed Bath and Beyond has a pharmacy section which includes hair products, baby products, facial products, feminine products, vitamins, pain killers, makeup and everything else that you would image a pharmacy to have. I use my coupons for all of the above.

I Shop with my Credit Card
Shopping with a credit card sounds like it’s defeating the purpose of saving but if you have a credit card with a good rewards program like American Express your rewards can end up paying for your purchases. If you have a Gap, Old Navy or Banana Republic card, you also receive coupons in the mail in addition to their 10% off Tuesdays. And if you use your coupon on a Tuesday, you end up paying next to nothing for your purchase.

I Bring Food to Work
Although Stage Door Deli gives me the hook up, taking advantage is the fastest way to lose a hook up. So on days when Stage Door isn’t delivering catering to the office, I bring my own lunch. Instead of buying breakfast everyday, I buy milk and I keep a box of cereal and a box of oatmeal packets at my desk. for days when I decide to eat breakfast; and I'm a tea drinker so instead of buying a cup of tea everyday, I bring a box of 100 tea bags, which is the same price as two cups of tea.

Happy Hour Specials
Saving money doesn’t mean that you have to give up your social life, but going out to dinner in NYC can get expensive. Happy hour specials have become my best friend and at places like Havanna 27, Jin and Patois, you can end up spending as little as $12 for dinner and drinks.

Salon Specials
I’m not a mani-pedi girl, but I HAVE TO have my hair and eyebrows done. HAVE TO!! My hair salon has a special on Mon-Wed so I try to go on those days, but lately the last thing I feel like doing is sitting in a salon after I have been sitting at work all day. I noticed that the wash-set-blow dry price is the same on the weekend as it is during the week, but the relaxer is $5 more on the weekend than it is during the week and this is where I splurge. Every six/seven weeks, I pay $5 more for a relaxer than I would on Monday – Wednesday just so that I don’t have to sit in the salon during the week. That’s a splurge that I think I can handle.

My brow salon has a discount card that gets signed for each visit and every 10th eyebrow visit is free. I like to keep my brows thick so this is a once a month visit.

No Late Fees, No Interest
Until a recent doctor visit, which I thought would be covered entirely by insurance, I didn’t owe anybody any money. That bill was a huge surprise, but thank God for payment plans. Soon it will vanish and I won’t owe anything to anyone again.

I’m too cheap for late fees and interest. They are a waste of your money. Pay your bills on time, pay in full if you can and try not to buy things that you can’t afford.

I love sharing so nothing I do on this blog is solely for me. Hopefully some of my tips rub off on you and maybe you have some saving tips to share with me!

To making the most of what we earn!!

Happy saving!

~Louise C.

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