4 Tough Lessons I Learned About Money During My First Year Out of College​

Face it: no matter how eager you are for college graduation, nothing can fully prepare you for entering the “real world.” Mistakes will happen. Changes will take place. And for a while, it might seem as if you’re the protagonist in a never-ending story of trial and error. But do you want to know the silver lining? Things will be OK. As I’ve come to realize since my own graduation, this postgrad transition is supposed to ooze with ups and downs. Because the lessons we learn from life’s many hiccups make us into stronger, wiser individuals.

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

While I endured numerous tribulations during my first year out of college, the toughest of times always stemmed from one thing: money. In an effort to prevent you from having to learn the hard way, ahead are four important lessons I learned about money during my first year out of college.

As Soon as I Tell Guests My Midcentury Modern Chair Costs $149 at Walmart, They’re Shocked

I love having a vintage look in my home, but antiques can cost a ton of money. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for affordable alternatives that still give off a classic vibe. I was so excited when I discovered this Novogratz Hudson Lounge Chair ($149) – I couldn’t believe it’s from Walmart!

The turquoise upholstery of this chair is beautiful, but it also comes in white leather if you prefer a more neutral look. It’s incredibly well-constructed with a solid wood frame. The Midcentury Modern silhouette makes this chair look like you uncovered it at an antiques fair or flea market. It’s gorgeous!

Beyond being easy on the eyes, this chair is also quite comfortable. I can sit in it for hours. If you need a new accent for your living room or bedroom, consider this piece. Then prepare for the compliments to roll in.

Good Bones Star Mina Starsiak and Her Hubby Give Us Serious #RelationshipGoals

We can all probably agree that HGTV’s Good Bones is our new favorite home design and renovation show, right?! The series follows mother-daughter duo Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak as they create seriously impressive transformations of rundown homes into chic new abodes. And as the true devotees we are, we of course tracked down Mina on Instagram and quickly became obsessed with her cute-as-can-be hubby, Steve Hawk. Married in June 2016, these two newlyweds sure do know how to make love look easy! Read on as we break down some of our favorite moments between the two, giving us yet another reason to be Mina’s biggest fans!

How Moving 6 Times in 3 Years Made Me a Minimalist

Nearly three years ago, I stood in my parents’ garage watching strangers sift through my things while I tried not to cry. I had just ended a toxic relationship with an abusive partner, but he was also my first love, and we were happy once. We shared an apartment (my first) for three years, and now I was getting rid of all its furnishings. Each item I sold triggered dozens of memories, both good and bad, and I sold them all.

Since then, I’ve lived in three different time zones and each move was more intense than the one that came before it. I moved from Missouri to Brooklyn with nothing but a suitcase and my laptop bag, then six months later, I gave away all my furniture and moved back to Missouri with the same ensemble. Nine months passed before a troubling cocktail of violent neighbors and bed bugs led me to burn all my furniture and move into my parents’ basement. And less than one year after that fiasco, I drove across the country to pursue a job in Los Angeles – with only $300 in my bank account and a couple of suitcases in my trunk. I drove back across the country five months later to visit family and save up for my own place, and after two months in Missouri, I was finally able to afford my own apartment in Long Beach. I packed my car as full as I could and gave away the things that didn’t fit and headed back to the West Coast.

The past three years have been as stressful as they have been adventurous, but the whole experience has taught me so much about letting go of things – literally. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to hang art on my walls and I own five pairs of earrings, but I’ve sold, gifted, or burned most of my earthly possessions over the past three years, and it’s helped me realize that my viewpoint on minimalism was extremely skewed for a long time. I used to equate a minimalist lifestyle with scarcity and boredom, but moving six times in three years made me realize it’s actually just a functional, sustainable, and peaceful way to live.

Since all of my clothes, shoes, and accessories can fit into one large suitcase these days, I rarely agonize over what I’m going to wear. I own fewer dishes and towels than I used to, so I’m more motivated to wash my dishes daily and I’m less likely to let my laundry pile up. And because I try not to hang onto too many things that I don’t use regularly, I could pack up my entire apartment in a day if needed. But perhaps more importantly than all of that, embracing minimalism has given me a sense of peace that I didn’t have before. I know now that I could lose most of my possessions and still be completely OK, because I don’t actually need that much to live well, and stuff can (usually) be replaced.

I’m certainly not the most hardcore minimalist you’ll ever meet, but I have picked up a few tricks along my journey. Here are just a few of my tips for getting started:

  • If you feel overwhelmed by your pantry, closet, garage, storage unit, etc., set a timer for 30 minutes and just do what you can.
  • If you haven’t worn something in six months, give it to someone who will.
  • If you’ve never read a book you own, and don’t particularly want to read it, donate it to someone who will/does.
  • If you have Spotify, Apple Music, or any streaming service, gift, sell, or toss those CDs you’ve been hanging onto. You don’t need them.
  • If you are stockpiling old Christmas cards, receipts, hair elastics that have lost stretchiness, or anything else on this list, just get rid of it.

It took moving six times in three years for me to understand that minimalism isn’t about doing without, it’s about simplifying your life and learning how to let go. With a few notable exceptions, my happiness and security aren’t tied to the things I own. For me, that’s what embracing minimalism is all about.

Huge Disney Fan? Then You MUST Know About This VIP Vacation Club

If you already dig bringing your family on Disney vacations (or visiting sans kids!), we’ve got news for you. Disney offers something called the Disney Vacation Club, and it can make these trips more cost-effective – and way more fun. This month, Disney World invited me to spend a week living like a DVC member (that’s what the cool kids call it), and it’s definitely something every Disney diehard should know about. Here’s how it works, what perks to expect, and why it really ups the magic.

Bring Magic to Your Next Disney Park Day With Some Disneybounding Inspiration

Disneybounding has become very popular over the past few years when going to the Disney Parks. But what is Disneybounding, and how do you make the perfect Disney-inspired outfit? Disneybounding is the art of taking regular clothes you already have in your closet and making an outfit inspired by a character, park icon, attraction, food, or almost anything else that reminds you of Disney.

With so many characters and in-park items, the options are truly limitless when it comes to Disneybounding. There are a few things to keep in mind when Disneybounding. Sometimes simple is better so people know exactly who you are bounding as. Repurposing items in your closet is the easiest way to come up with a unique outfit without spending a lot of money. Your personal style should shine through with your bound.

If you’re still needing some inspiration, check out the looks we’ve gathered for you! There’s something for everyone, from modern princesses to vintage-glam Mary Poppins and Bert to street style Mr. Smee.

This Delicious Instant Pot Curry Recipe Is So Easy, You’ll Want It Every Night

I love to cook, but as a working mom, whipping up fresh meals for weeknight dinners can be challenging. Enter my two secret weapons: the Instant Pot and Trader Joe’s. If you aren’t already in the know about the Instant Pot’s versatility and crazy cooking speed, it’s definitely worth checking out. You can throw in frozen meat and uncooked beans and tenderize an entire pot roast in no time. And because you can use it to sauté, pressure cook, slow cook, cook grains, and so much more, you only have one thing to wash afterward. Heaven!

I like to pair this ingenious invention with Trader Joe’s pantry and freezer staples to create delicious meals that come together in about 30 minutes. I recently combined the two to make this coconut chicken curry and was surprised by how easy it was to make (no chopping necessary, and you can buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s)! If you’re looking for a fast, healthy, and tasty dinner to pull together in a pinch, give this one a try.

Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry

From Angela Elias, POPSUGAR Food

Ingredients

  1. 1 bottle Thai yellow curry sauce (I use Trader Joe’s)
  2. 1 can coconut milk
  3. 1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  4. 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  5. 1 cup frozen spinach
  6. 3/4 cup frozen peas
  7. Salt, to taste
  8. Frozen organic brown rice
  9. Sriracha, to taste
  10. Fresh lime for garnish, optional
  11. Frozen Tandoori naan

Directions

  1. Pour the yellow curry sauce and coconut milk into the Instant Pot.
  2. Place the chicken into the Instant Pot and stir so that the chicken is covered by the liquid. Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Press the poultry button and adjust to 10 minutes, using the plus and minus buttons. The Instant Pot display will change to “On.” Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, the float valve will go up. The display will count down from 10 to 0 and will automatically switch to “Keep Warm” mode when it’s done cooking.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, move the steam-release handle to “Venting” (just be sure to protect your hand with a kitchen towel or oven mitt). When the steam is released, the float valve will be in the down position.
  4. Once all of the steam is released, open the lid, remove the chicken, place it on a cutting board, and shred it with two forks. Once the chicken is shredded, return it to the pot of curry.
  5. Add garbanzo beans, spinach, peas, and salt to taste, and stir to combine.
  6. Place the lid back on to keep the curry warm while you microwave your frozen rice. Serve the curry over rice, top it with sriracha and a squeeze of fresh lime, and heat up a side of Tandoori naan for extracarb-y goodness!

37 Surreal Places to See the Clearest, Bluest Water on Earth

There’s nothing more tantalizing than seeing a body of clear, blue water, and some of the most impressive places to get your fill (pun intended) are so stunning you won’t believe they’re real. But seriously, these hot spots are otherworldly. No need to book an international flight to take a peek at these surreal watery wonders, we’ve rounded up the best shots for your viewing pleasure. (Although you may want to fly to your favorites after you see them!) Check out the most incredible oceans and lakes that you can visit and dive right into – they’re calling your name!