Little Night Out #1 – The Real OG

After both my partner and I got settled in to our apartment and our jobs we can finally pay bills without having to choose between food or gas but still, trying to go on any kind of date in California is too expensive. We went to Universal City Walk for dinner. After paying $10 to park we walked around for half an hour (it’s not a big place) looking at menus. You know what I mean, you skim over the prices to tell if you should even bother tempting yourself. Everything was out of our price range for a an “everyday date”. We just wanted a little dinner and maybe a glass of wine.

I figured I’d start off Little Night Out’s with something super simple and relatively accessible pretty much all over the U.S. Plus Italian is a crowd-pleaser.

The wonderful thing about Olive Garden is that they allow you to split meals. You’ll still get bread sticks and salad free with your meal! Granted if you want a refill on salad for splitting a meal, they will charge you but with all that food who needs a salad refill? With a glass of wine and a split meal our bill comes out roughly around $20 for everything, $25 with tip. $30 with a whole bottle of wine if we are feeling like savoring the date.

wine

I would definitely suggest getting “The Tour of Italy” to split. It has alfredo, lasagna, and chicken parmesan. A little something for all types of OG lovers! If you want to add a little something more to your meal, dipping sauces for bread sticks a cheap add on.

What I find also makes a cheap date special is to dress up like you’re going to paint the town red with your twenty dollars.Take a shower, dress up, and be there for the experience no matter how much you spend, or don’t spend preferably.

Introducing “Little Night Out”

Welcome to what I’m hoping will be the first of many, “Little Night Out”. I want you to pay a little and have a lot of fun.

I know how it is, You and your spouse…or triad? are working yet great dates seem unreachable. For me it always seems the rent just got paid, the car just broke down, and the dog just threw up something bright purple reminding me I was right to wait on having children.  Alas, you and I long for romance, passion! Sure you can Pintrest the hell out of “Date Night In” until you want to vomit sheet forts and Christmas lights but adventure is calling! I’m going to post extensive how to’s on date nights on a budget. I will even tell you how to plan it. All you have to do is decide which ones sound the best!

If you have any requests or ideas for “Little Night Out”s  that you would like us to make a plan and check out let us know!

My Next Step

When I first moved to LA 7 months ago my partner and I had little to nothing, one income, and some optimism. I wrote about my conquest thru the desert and gave you some survival tips. Then I told you about my master “Free Craigslist” plan and how to make the most of it. Well, for the last several months there was even more figure out.  There always is, right? I was having trouble finding steady income in this town. In LA you had better  know someone who can get you a career oriented job. Other jobs like serving make decent money here because they pay at least minimum wage unlike states like Florida who don’t pay full minimum wage. Their excuse is, you get tipped but as you know not everyone tips and you aren’t always working at Olive Garden. Here, employers take full responsibility in making sure their workers get paid decently but I knew didn’t want to serve again. I had been a server on and off again most of my life. Never again I said…

So what happened…I caved and ended up getting a serving job at a staffing company bouncing around from charity events to weddings. There’s a lot of staffing companies for events here. The company I got hired with paid the most it seemed, $15/hour, but my checks were consistently late and the events are utter chaos for staff. Usually more than one staffing company gets hired for an event which means multiple bosses. Chain of command is often argued over between managers and any mistakes made because of eight different people telling you what to do is your fault. Even though this was all frustrating to say the least I stuck with it for a while and tired to give 100%. My boss noticed and sent me constant praises along with still late paychecks. I took charge on my own and often ended up directing others but gigs were few and far in between. So I took to Craigslist again.

Next I got a gig working as a personal aide. I learned a lot from that job and was thankful for the experience even though it was short lived. Unfortunately, I still needed more consistency. “What about my job?” said Christina.  “I think it would be perfect for you.” We fantasized about me working there but months seemed to pass by with no window of opportunity, until finally I got a call asking me to fill in for another PA who was going to be out for a week. The people and job were wonderful and as my last day approached I started to get depressed that opportunity was just teasing me. More months passed after my one week of work and I was starting to think no other gig would become available in time. We were struggling and I needed decent income. Finally they called and asked me to start back on a few month project this time. Lucky me, I’m currently still on that project and am hoping to keep getting rehired. Right now I don’t plan on having a career in Post Production but if there ‘s anything the whole experience of moving here has taught me is that opportunity is everywhere, be open-minded, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Just Do It

    My partner and I were living in Florida less than 3 months ago. We were living pay check to pay check, working crappy jobs, and tired of the atmosphere. We desperately needed a change. A friend of mine had a friend of her own who worked in the same field that Chris graduated in just at the end of 2015. She called us on a Tuesday and said if we could make it to California by next Monday she got the job! Sure it was an entry level one but it would be a foot in the door! We had no money to move and it felt impossible at first. If you are going to make the decision to uproot your life in less than a week you better jump in feet first because it takes no hesitation to accomplish it.

After about a three second conversation and making the decision we formed a plan…

1.) Cut your losses.

It was going to be way too expensive to move our furniture across the country so we cut our losses and posted on Criagslist, Facebook, OfferUp App, and anything else we could find to sell all of our furniture. You want to get the most out of your furniture but try to remember you need whatever funds you can get in a short amount of time. Don’t short yourself but don’t be too proud to sell that couch for $50 when you really need the money and you’re on a time crunch. We went with a rule of thumb to never go lower than what a tank of gas would cost us. Just sell as much as you can bare to part with.

Some how in three days we had sold enough to at least make it there. One problem at a time right?

2.) Get your vehicle tuned up.

We decided it would be best to spend some of that money on getting our car checked out. We were going to be driving for three days and mostly across the desert. We needed to make sure we weren’t going to end up stranded. Luckily my mom had  also got us a portable car jump charge for a present a few months back.

-Get an oil change. Check your lights, break pads, fluids, especially your A/C for when your truckin’ it across the desert, check your tires. Make sure you have a spare tire. It seems like adding extra to your plate but you will be thankful to not end up on the side of the road in the middle of BFE.

BRING EXTRA WATER!

3.) Save your money anyway possible.

Someone said we would need a couple hundred for food. This advice is pretty simple, Don’t eat at Olive Garden the entire road trip. Get a cooler or borrow one and fill it with water/juice, sandwiches, fruits & snacks. Tip: Don’t preslab your sandwiches with mayo and mustard, they will get soggy. Get some plastic knives and just put the condiments in the cooler. This will save you so much money. Try to stick to the cooler and not go inside the gas stations. Those purchases will add up quickly.

There is also a nifty app called Gas Buddy we use to check for the lowest prices in our current area. Take a look at a gas calculator online and add $100 to your gas budget just to be safe. Who knows, you could get lost or accidentally take the wrong road 15 miles out of the way. If you don’t end up needing it you have $100 extra in your pocket.

Try to sleep in your car as much as possible, safely. We took turns most of the time driving and trying to sleep. You should at least plan for one hotel night stay even if you aren’t going to end up needing it, just put it in the budget if possible. Besides after the 20 hours in the car a shower will sound like a luxury. We did end up staying at a hotel in New Orleans for a night courtesy of one of those Apps that lists cheap hotel rooms and found a room at an old Inn for about $45 for the night.

noi

4.) Realize it’s going to be rough and make a decision to make the best of it.

I know it sounds like Optimist BS but it helped me. I knew 3 days in a jam packed car with my dog and my partner was going to be uncomfortable to say the least. Try to make it enjoyable and easy for one another and you’ll be fine. Actually it was like a miracle that my dog Blue behaved so well during the trip and we actually had a pretty  wonderful time talking and stopping at different places to take in the scenery.

sleep

5.) If you must drive through the desert, do it at night.

 It’s cooler, less wear & tear on your tires & AC, and you’ll get to see the most beautiful stars. I suppose if we had the time we could have camped under the stars but just getting to see the sky without any light pollution for even a second was amazing.

desert.jpeg

One thing’s for sure we couldn’t have made it without the support of our friends and family buying up all our things and helping us acquire a temporary place for a month to start work. So, Thank you to those that made it a little more possible.

6.) Snag a cheap place for about the first month through room apps and sites.

We used an app and simply wrote to the people with the room asking if we could settle won a lower price if we went ahead and booked it for the month. They agreed. We brought our own pillows, one set of sheets, and two bathroom towels with us, just in case. Plus once we got our own place we knew we would need those essentials.

Getting a temporary place for the first month gives you the benefit of being able to take a look at surrounding areas and search for a more permanent place rather than just hoping for the best and being stuck for a year.

It is possible to just pack up and leave. It’s definitely not impossible. Just make sure it’s for the right reasons and try to make the most out of it or else what’s the point?

la

Don’t Underestimate Craigslist

This works in 3 ways,

1.)Everything in this picture except for the photo frame & candle was from “free” Craigslist.

2.)Keep to the “Guidelines” and always take extra care measures to clean and sanitize furniture, mattresses, & clothes.

3.) Be safe: Don’t go by yourself over an hour away in the “sketchy” part of town. Bring someone with you and use common sense when giving out personal information and going inside people’s houses. Male sure someone knows where you are going. That being said, did I mention I got all of this for free…

GUIDELINES

If you really want to shop for free and be successful you have to check it everyday, check only the “posted today”, and  “image only”. “posted today” because you don’t want anything that’s been sitting on the curb, out in the weather too long and because sometimes people will just place nice things on the curb in an effort to get rid of them quickly not because it’s crap. If any kind of furniture has been sitting out more than two days chances are that thing has bed bugs. Weather brings mildew. “images only” because you need to make sure it’s a real post and that it isn’t severely damaged and think they should rename it “free firewood”. Look at it before buying it. You don’t have to buy it if you show up. You don’t know those people. If it is rank when you get there, leave. What are they going to do? -Hold you down while the other throws it in the back? They’ll get over it. But in the same respect don’t keep someone waiting for a week and not be at least 99% sure you are going to take it.

Be Realistic. Don’t expect things to be fresh out of the box and never used. This stuff has been lived with and the people think it is at least functional enough not to just chuck in the dumpster . Being handy also helps. People are going to toss stuff out for the smallest reasons. Broken cabinet doors, lost screws, needs a new coat of paint, one square of re upholstery, a little sanding. This is where you embrace the DIY. There’s a reason a million people spend hours at a time on Pinterest. Careful, it’s easy to get lost and create a business plan for refurbishing furniture and selling it on Etsy.  More on the that later…

Upside, you will find some unique things for free.

*If you need to rent a truck try to schedule 3 or 4 pickups on the same day. Oh and if I haven’t stressed it enough be safe!

 

“Behind the Scenes”Day

About once a week I like to take the day and do what I like to call “behind the scenes” stuff. This could be laundry, cleaning, self grooming. Your body is a temple and no it doesn’t matter who or how many have worshiped there. The point is, it’s yours and so is the place you live in(technically it’s my landlord’s place but you know what I mean). Respect for myself starts here. I used to never clean or take extra care with my things and so what if I look like I just rolled out of bed, I’ve lived within a few miles of the beach my whole life, comes with the lifestyle. This lack of “give a crap” was great in my late teens and early 20’s when I was constantly at work or with my friends and still living for the weekend. Now I need to be a little more frugal with my money and I’ve weeded out the hundred of acquaintances down to several good friends I’d really like to spend my time with. As I get older I find that turning my place of quick bites and a space to crash into a personal haven has improved the quality of my life in ways I never imagined.

My mom’s immaculate house looks like the cover of Better Homes & Gardens. I don’t think I can keep up like that, nor do I want to try to be Martha Stewart. The level I try to be on is not being embarrassed when friends or family pop by unannounced. They know you “live” in that space. They know who you are and your habits and won’t be quick to judge some dishes in the sink or your mattress on the floor. There is a difference between messy and unclean. I live in a studio apartment for three reasons. One, I don’t like to clean. Small square footage equals less to clean. Two, to save money. Three, because I live in L.A. and truthfully it’s all I can afford. Having a smaller space is easier to manage especially because I get overwhelmed easily. I got a big push broom to run over the floors once a day which takes all of about 1 minute and mop once a week. You’d be surprised how stressful walking on a dirty floor is and can make you feel gross even after just taking a shower. I don’t plan on what to clean, that is ridiculous self help advice that puts more stress on trying to schedule. Just take a look around and clean what needs to be cleaned. You don’t have to do top to bottom every time you clean. You will burn yourself out. I also try to clean my sheets and towels once a week. That way laundry isn’t piling up and I usually have something appropriate to wear for whatever I’m doing instead of digging through a mountain picking through and smelling the clothes I want to wear to see if they are too funky to wear again. It’s not pretty and really stresses me out when I’m running late. Taking care of stuff once a week saves me from being stressed out with it the rest of the week.

Here’s some other things I do on “Behind the Scenes” Day : Grocery shop, Self Groom(eyebrows, file nails, wax that stache, etc.), go over my planner to get an idea of what my week is going to be like, Call & catch up with friends and family, check out my tires/fill them, clean out the fridge, etc.

Write to me and tell me what you do on your “Behind the Scenes” Day.