The Thrifty PostGrad: Brattle Book Shop

Hello Readers! Today we will be giving you a treat from Chelsea Regan over at Post Grad Apartments. Chelsea is about to graduate from Boston College and join the wonderful world of Post Grad. She contributes to several sections of Post Grad Apartments for the Boston chapter including some amazing neighborhoods we plan on checking out next time we are over there. We hope you enjoy her post about thriftiness!

As I’m about to graduate from college, and thinking about going on to grad school, there’s something I’m starting to regret. Why did I sell so many of my books back to the school?

The answer of course is fast cash that always seemed to appear out of thin air. But it started to strike me that in the future the wealth of my book collection will matter more to me than the petty cash I’ve collected at the end of every semester. I posed the question to myself of how I was going to fund replacing the books I should have held onto, and also less academic future buys. Answer: used booksellers.

I found Brattle Book Shop - a bookseller on an understated street that provides a passageway between Boston Commons and Washington Street at the heart of Boston.

The shop houses an impressive collection of rare and out of print books – many which could really cost you. A few steps passed the humble building is an extension of the used and antiquarian book collection within. However, these books are sold at budget-friendly prices.

Rows of aluminum bookcases on wheels line the spacious lot. Books of every genre you can imagine rest on these humble holdings. Fiction from the Renaissance through to present day John Grisham thrillers, non-fiction works from psychology to autobiography, Bibles and Korans; you name it you can find it at Brattle. The costs of the books are clearly indicated by color-coded stickers.

If you’re lucky you can find the signature of a previous owner on some of the older books. On my last trip there I picked up an 1884 copy of Shakespeare’s Macbeth signed by a Mr. George A. Littlefield, and a 1945 hardcopy of Stuart Little that was tagged unsteadily in pencil by a child by the name of Muffy. The combo cost me less than ten dollars.

My humble suggestion to postgrads is to find a bookseller near you like Brattle to build your post-college book collection.

Girl Talk: I Think I’m Addicted To Starting Over

Girl Talk: I Think I’m Addicted To Starting Over

Part of being a post grad is starting over. But have you taken it too far?

One Year Anniversary

Next week marks the one year anniversary of my college graduation. American University for whatever reason, finished strangely early. And somehow it seems like maybe a month has passed since we threw up those caps.

I am nowhere near where I was hoping to be career wise 1 year out of college. I don't have a job in my field, or anywhere close to my field. However, I have come to terms with the fact that this job has taught me a lot and will help me get a position in the field of my dreams, eventually.

Some things I HAVE accomplished since graduation:
  1. Being able to rent an apartment without a cosigner. That's right, my credit checked out and I can do it all on my own.
  2. Went to a foreign country alone.
  3. Successfully completed my first payroll audit.
  4. Mastered Moroccan cooking
  5. Got a 2nd tattoo
  6. Volunteered on Christmas instead of indulging myself.

I'm ok with that list for now. And in the next year I hope to accomplish so much more. Happy 1 year anniversary post grads!

Adult Dorms

It's moving week for me! Over the next few days I will be transferring all of my things into a new studio apartment. Since living on my own (aka not in a college dorm), I've always lived in houses that were divided up into apartments, this will be my first time in an actual apartment building. Here are a few differences I've noticed so far as I've been moving my life from my old apartment to my new one.

1. It's harder to move into a new apartment when you live in a secure building and every door is locking behind you constantly.

2. Apartment buildings remind me of dorms, so I am always a little surprised when I see a child or older person walking through the halls.

3. Grocery shopping is about to become more difficult with a parking lot across a fairly busy street from my apartment. I'm thinking about buying a little cart to help me lug my groceries across the street. Readers that live in the city- how do you deal with this??

4. Apartment buildings have a maitenance staff that is always on call instead of one landlord that has to handle everything.

5. Secure building = way more keys. I only had two keys for my last apartment (one for the basement and one for the actual apartment). I have five keys for this apartment and now sound like a janitor whenever I take my wallet out of my purse.

I'll post some before photos of my apartment in the next few days!

I Need a New Hobby

No, I'm serious. I need a new hobby. My roommate keeps making fun of me because apparently I watch too much television. And by that I mean Netflix. The only problem is, I don't have money to spend on a hobby. So readers, what are your ideas for me. Please don't say jogging, it's been mentioned, it's been shot down try again.

I'm Back! and Moving! (Soon)

Hi guys, sorry for my absence the past couple of days, I made the 5 hr drive home to the Hudson Valley to spend my birthday weekend with my family and friends. I think I must be getting used to this haul (I made the same drive for four years in college as well..) because the drive didn't seem bad at all to me! My little three day weekend was very relaxing and I got a ton of stuff for my studio apartment as birthday presents (thanks mom and dad), which I am moving into in TWO WEEKS! I'm excited, can you tell?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to sublet my current apartment for three months since my lease here isn't actually up until August 1st, and thankfully my roommate and I found two responsible girls to take our rooms (she's leaving early as well).

Here are the steps I took along this subletting process that might be useful for some of you!

1. Ask your landlord if it is okay to sublet your room. Find out if he/she wants to meet your subletter or if they have any requirements for who sublets the room.

2. Tell your roommates as far in advance as possible. For me, this was two months, for others it could be more or less time. It's only fair to be considerate of the roommates staying in the apartment when looking for someone to take your place.

3. Write up a sublease. Here are a few sublease samples found online. Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3.

4. Post an ad! You can use craigslist, off campus housing websites (if you live near a college town), bulliten boards, your Facebook account- whatever you choose!

5. Develop a list of criteria for your subletter (remember, you are the landlord in this situation!) Then filter out the responses that don't fit your needs.

6. Contact those that do, and set up a time to show them the apartment. Remember to be very wary of responses you receive from websites like craigslist that can sometimes be breeding grounds for creeps.

7. When you find a subletter,have them sign the sublease agreement and collect rent as you see fit. Word of mouth agreements are great, but signing a contract makes things official and binding.

8. Keep the agreement on file throughout the whole period of the sublease.

9. Celebrate and get ready to move into your new apartment! Make sure to clean your apartment before leaving so that it's ready for your subletter!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book (series) has everything needed for an enjoyable, thought provoking read. There is a political dynamic, romance, action and even mystery. The series takes place in a country whose foundations were created after an uprising and now resembles somewhat of a dictatorship. But the country is very advanced in its technology, inventions and fashion.

Katniss Everdeen, the main character, is 16 years old and the main provider for her family. Until the unthinkable happens and she is forced to participate in The Hunger Games. The cruel games invented by the Capitol to prevent the country from ever challenging them again. It is a fight to the death between 24 children ages 12-18. Yes, you read that right.

These games are televised for the whole country to watch. It is actually mandatory that they are watched. The country watches as the contestants find food, shelter, and use weapons against each other.

And that only explains a small portion of this book.

Rating 5/5 stars (although it deserves 6)

Where Should I Go Next?

My next trip won't be until next year, when my tax return comes in again, but I have Travel Fever now and want to start looking into options. And I need your help readers! I want your input and suggestions about where I should head next.

Some ground rules:
- I don't want to go anywhere typical. Eventually I'll do the European tourist thing, but for now I want to steer clear of most of Europe. No France, Spain, Italy.
- My decisions will be influenced a lot by price, so Australia is probably out.
- I like adventure, I don't want to go anywhere without that

Some places I am considering:
  1. Iceland. Natural hot springs, geysers, tranquil beauty. Also the potential to see the Northern Lights which is on my bucket list. There are also glacier and cavern tours.
  2. Guyana. Tours of the rain forest and the Essequibo River. I have always wanted to visit the rain forest. Well, except for the potential of deadly bugs and snakes.
That is as far as I have gotten with my list. I am open to other suggestions, as long as they fit the above criteria. Help me figure out my next adventure!

I Was Told There'd Be Cake

I Was Told There'd be Cake by Sloane Crosley

This book of personal essays is witty and relatable. Well, at least I could relate to it. She has a writing style similar to that of Chelsea Handler but with less swearing. Follow Sloane through her journey of self discovery and read all about her mistakes along the way.

My favorite essays include:
One Night Bounce
The Good People of this Dimension
The Ursula Cookie

Sloane tackles the very difficult topics of volunteer work after high school, bosses that are not ideal, and how a woman's view of men changes since childhood. How can you go wrong with such topics? I mean, when you were 7, what did you think a One Night Stand was? Read the book and you'll get Sloane's rendition.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Istanbul Adventure (With Pictures)

Well readers, I'm back in DC with my camera cord and have lots of pictures to share with you.

The picture to the left is the Blue Mosque. The exterior is stunning, as you can see. The interior, while not
grotesque, did not meet the expectations of beauty I had held for it. Visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering and put them in plastic bags supplied outside. I'm grateful I decided on shoes that were easy to slip off. I learned on my tour that there are 2700 mosques in Istanbul. There are also 125 churches and 6 synagogues. All of this to serve a population of 13 million.

The most famous church of the city is the Hagia Sophia, or St. Sophia in english. It is made of Red Granite which attributes to it lasting for so long. Apparently red granite can withstand a lot weather wise. It's picture is below on the left. The dome of the church is extremely wide, which you can't really tell by looking up on the inside. The only way to really tell is by following all the X marks on the floor. They were placed around as a reference point for the builders.

Inside of the church were 8 of the plaques like the one to the right. All stood for something different. One was for Alah, because before it was a church the St. Sophia was a mosque. One is for Muhamed. And I honestly cannot remember what the other 6 stood for. I just remember they were pretty.

There were 2 other major sites I saw while in Istanbul, but only one has good pictures. The first, without a good picture, was the Topkapi Palace. Its use was discontinued in
the 1850s so it is no longer lavishly decorated. Most of it has been turned into a museum to showcase the religious relics and jewels of the royal family when they lived there.

The last site I went to was the Beylerbeyi palace. It was used by the Sultan as a
summer home and I could definitely see why. No pictures were allowed to be taken inside but the decorations were stunning. There was a very ornate chandelier in every room. Most of them were made one-of-a-kind from China or Persia. The ceilings were all painted. The carpeting was still original and some of the finest in Turkey. I learned while there that the difference between Persian carpets and Turkish ones is that the Turks use double knots while the Persians use single. It is situated right on the water with gates that lead right to private docks on the Bosphorus. The gardens of this palace are also amazing and include a secluded pool. I think I liked it most just because it was still so ornately decorated. The Rope Room was my favorite. Except for maybe the sitting room that included a wading pool and fountain in the middle. The tour guide claimed it was used as a cooling system because it was a summer house after all. I think the Sultan wanted to swim in his living room.

Winning: A Message to Our Readers

When I was in high school, I ran on the girls varsity track team for a few years. I wasn't the best runner on the team by far, and I wasn't the worst. I didn't mind falling somewhere in the middle because for me, track wasn't about the competitions at all. In fact, I would have been content to go to practices and avoid meets all together. I just liked running with my teammates, staying in shape, and feeling strong.

The coach of our high school track team was a well-liked social studies teacher. I remember being excited when I first joined the team because I thought he would have the same fun attitude about running that he had in the classroom. But something changed about this man when he moved from the classroom to the track. He went from being a funny/sarcastic teacher to being a mean/ sarcastic coach.

I dealt with his attitude for the most part, until one rainy track meet. I found out that I was going to have to switch my race last minute and my coach ended up putting me in one I didn't feel comfortable running. When I told him I was really nervous, he just said "It doesn't really matter how you do, you're not going to win anyway." In front of the whole team.

He is what I aspire not to be as I develop in my post grad career and as a human being in general. People like this are why Shikole and I blog in the first place. We try to remind you that while there will always be haters out there, you have two twenty-something girls in your corner, rooting for you to achieve the most you can as a post grad. We try to let you know that for every awkward, exciting, terrifying, and exhilarating post grad experience you have, we are right there besides you, feeling the same things.

Here's what I wish my track coach would have told me when I doubted myself, "I know you're feeling scared, but you'll finish this race, and I'll be there cheering you on until you do." That's our message to all of you readers. Please remember it every time you doubt where your post grad life is heading.

We appreciate each and every reader that takes time out of their days to read about our lives. We hope you'll keep coming back!

And to my former track coach: I'm still running, and while it may never be up to your standards, I'm fine with that......I hope you like my book.

Cluttered Stores = Spending More Money?

I read this article on retail design in the NY Times a few days ago and thought this might be interesting for anyone working on a post grad budget. As someone who spent many college and high school years working retail jobs, I know how the design of the store/ merchandise can make it appealing (or not) to customers. What I didn't realize is that cluttered stores actually trick you into purchasing more!

Apparently, people associate a packed/ cramped store with value. Walmart actually has done a few remodels over the years and found that when the aisles are less cluttered, people report a more enjoyable shopping experience, but ultimately purchase less. Determined to keep filling customers carts with things they never knew they needed, Walmart has embarked on an effort to "re-clutter" their stores.

The same can be said for clothing stores. For example, when I walk into J Crew store and see the clothing spread out in neat little piles and displays, my mind immediately thinks "$$$$". For a completely different experience, you can go into Forever 21 and see clothes stuffed in every corner possible of the store. While it's overwhelming, my initial thought is that there's got to be a deal in there somewhere!

I bet that in the end I would end up spending the same amount of money at both stores. In JCrew, the streamlined layout would help me stay focused only on what I wanted, while the sheer amount of inventory in Forever 21 would likely lead to me purchasing things I didn't initially want/ need.

The NY Times highlighted the specific stores of Dollar General, Old Navy, and Walmart in their article, so be sure to be aware that there is a mastermind behind the way every retail store is set up! My advice on how to deal with this new form of retail design? Go into shops with a list and stick to it!

The People I've Met in Istanbul

23 Turkish men who want "Yes please?"
3 Turkish men who claim they love me
6 German men wearing Canadian suits
2 Italian men who were gay, thank goodness
1 Cardiologist from Cyprus (I'm not sure what nationality that is, Cyprusian?)
1 Couple from New York who loved Dunkin Donuts as much as I do
2 Tour Guides
1 Typical Man who would rather watch 6 soccer games than talk
1 Turkish Jeweler
2 bartenders against talking on the job

Istanbul vs DC

There are so many subtle things in life that lend to a culture. It took coming to Turkey for me to realize them. I have several examples below but also need to take this time to tell you all that pictures will only go up after I return to the states. I forgot my camera cord and cannot upload them yet.

So, subtle cultural differences.

  1. While the Turks drive on the same side of the road as we do, I have yet to see an automatic car.
  2. The salt and pepper shakers are backwards. In the US salt is the one with less holes "because it's bad for us," or so my mother told me. Here salt has 3 holes and pepper 1.
  3. The way they count their floors here has me all confused. It starts at 0 and then goes up. The first floor is not the lobby floor. No, No, No, that would be too easy for me to grasp.
  4. Taksi drivers don't try to rip you off. Leaving the Grand Bazaar today I got a little lost. And by that I mean I never knew where I was to begin with. I walked around for a while hoping I'd see something familiar. Luckily I did so I knew I was in the right part of town, but had no idea where to go. I got in a taksi, told him where I was going as he drove off. He stopped and told me to walk, it was literally around the corner. And charged me nothing. In DC they would've taken me the 20 feet and over charged.

I'm off to find a place to eat!

What Could be Worse?

*Note: Post written in airport, but airport wanted me to pay for Wi-fi. So being posted now.

I have to pee. If you know me at all, you know that this fact rarely makes me act. One of the most popular phrases that leaves my lips is “I have to pee, but that involves getting up.” I would much rather wait until I can literally no longer stand the uncomfortable feeling of urine filling my bladder to actually get up and use the bathroom.

Now I’m in an airport. Having to pee is much more difficult than just getting up. When traveling alone, like I am currently, there is no one to watch your bags as you pee. No, I am going to have to bring my luggage with me. And lug it into the stall. Try not to put it down in a puddle of something. Then lug it back out and try to find someplace else to sit.

The flight itself does not help the need to pee. Many flights have cut the snacks, but will still supply beverages. It seems great at the time, getting a little extra from the money you spent on the plane ticket. Then the flight attendant pours that plastic cup with as much liquid as the ice permits, and hands you the can with the remaining liquid. It is refreshing as it goes down, but wait 20 minutes, then tell me how you feel. I bet it is very similar to the way I feel right now.

I still have to pee.

Weekend Changes

When I was in college I used to DREAD having errands and chores to do on the weekends. I would rather make my grocery trip at midnight on a Thursday if it meant my Friday night, Saturdays, and Sundays were free for fun (and the occasional large paper assignment).

Now a days, I look forward to the errands I used to hate and I don't mind at all when a major chunk of my weekend is spent organizing my life. I actually enjoy organizing my closet, I don't mind vacuuming out my car, and grocery shopping is very relaxing. I'm not sure if it's because I simply have less time during the week available to do these things.. or... I'm starting to grow up?

Do you all feel this way too? Or am I just turning into a Bree Van de Kamp? (You can ignore that last sentence if you're not a Desperate Housewives fan.)

I guess I'll ponder this more while I'm off dusting and organizing my sock drawer.

Prep Work

Today I'm leaving for Turkey. And I'm scared to death I'm going to forget something important. Like my shoes. Or my passport. I also began to pack 12 hours before flight time. Mostly because I hadn't had a chance to do my laundry before then. Don't judge me, I had very good friends in town that I hadn't seen in months. putting off laundry/packing was worth it.

I have a tendency to be extreme when it comes to packing. Either I plan on wearing pretty much the same thing every day, or I feel the need to have 3 options for every day. I refuse to check luggage so I'm going to hope less options work.

Vital things that I may need in a foreign country are as follows:
  1. Advil. I don't know what it is called there or if the strength is the same or where it's sold. It's coming with me.
  2. Power Adapter. None of my American electronics will work in the outlets without one. Lucky for you guys I bought one before my trip.
  3. Cash. ATMs over sees charge even more fees than here in the US. I know, it's hard to believe.
  4. An open mind. It sounds corny but you know it's true.

Wish me luck!

A Sublet Situation

Shikole and I are both dealing with housing issues at the moment, and for two control freaks, it's really throwing us for a loop. While I am attempting to sublet my current room for the remaining three months of my lease before I move into a new studio apartment, Shikole is searching for new housing for the next year that is in her price range and preferred location in Washington, DC.

My college apartment situation was a complete breeze compared to what renting is like in the post grad world. I lived in a college town where nearly every house within a one mile radius of the campus was inhabited by students. I had an attentive landlord and my parents paid my rent in one lump sum at the beginning of each semester. There was really no talk of subletting since students rented by the semester.

In post grad world, apartments are an entirely new ball game. In order to be attractive to a landlord you must be employed and be reliable. Since I am subletting my apartment, I'm getting a little taste of what landlords go through in selecting a tenant, and let me tell you, it's not pretty.

So far I've had potential subletters try to withhold their gender from me (it's going to come out eventually...) and lie about who would be living in the apartment (a little hint to couples out there who think it's better to refer to themselves as "friends"- don't do this! It's deceiving and wastes every one's time.) I've even had a 20 year old boy who had his MOTHER writing emails to me asking about the place. If you're not mature enough to handle emailing a potential apartment, you are not mature enough to live on your own.

I know Shikole is looking at a few places this week and I'll be showing the apartment to more subletters, so I'm sure more stories are to come. Do you guys have any crazy rental stories to share?

I'm Moving to Rochester

My Housing woes have overcome me and the stress is getting too high. What are my options?

  1. Live out in VA or MD to afford life so I can work a job I don't like
  2. Stay in DC in a house that has an ant problem and try to find people to move in
  3. Move to Rochester where the cost of living is lower and I have Allie

I have chosen option three. Now I just need a job there, which shouldn't be too hard. Allie and I found a couple today.

Oh and April Fools :)