Decorate your Dorm

I remember the last summer before my freshman year of college like it was yesterday. You’re excited, anxious, nervous and ready to take on the world all at once. One of the biggest curiosities for me was wondering what my dorm room would be like. I mean, this IS the place I’ll be calling ‘home’ for the next year of my life, will it feel like my own place? I looked around online and in magazines for decorating your dorm tips and WOW, I didn’t realize my dorm would have a dangling chandelier, fancy furry carpets and interesting hand painted furniture! Well, when I walked into my dorm a few months later it was slightly different than I imagined…

There were two beds, two dressers, two desks and a closet – all made out of weird orange-ish fake wood. The floor was tile and the walls very bare and white. I felt a bit nervous at first, how was this ‘cold’ room with weird furniture ever going to feel like home? I took a deep breath and thought about the magazine dorms I studied all summer. No, my room won’t have the most interesting one-of-a-kind chandelier, but I could take some ideas from their perfectly designed dorms and apply them to this real-life, not modern studio apartment, dorm scenario.

For Part 1 of this series, I’m going to focus on transforming the sleeping area:

From my experience, simply ‘decorating’ my bed was the quickest way to make the room feel drastically different and home-like.

What to do?

  • Get a comforter with bright colors or bold prints to instantly transform the room
  • Get a thick, heavy comforter and a lightweight blanket/comforter. My dorm temperatures were sometimes very unpredictable so having both options readily available was a life-saver. (Storage tip: Don’t take up valuable storage space by trying to keep the extra comforter in a bin somewhere, keep it folded at the end of your bed!)
  • Get fun pillows! Adding one or two accent pillows made my bed feel more sophisticated, anyone else feel fancy with theirs?
  • Find an interesting bedside table lamp. Every dorm is different, but my bedside table is what separated the two beds and didn’t come with a lamp – score! See below for a do it yourself idea to transform a thrift store find.

 

Where to find deals:

  • Target – has a back to college section on their website, check out the on-sale items HERE.
  • HomeGoods – I wish I knew about Home Goods when I was in college, but I somehow missed the memo. HomeGoods has pretty much everything for your decorating needs and most important – always at discount prices! Find your nearest location HERE.
  • Fab.com or download the App on your smartphone – I have the Fab app on my phone – everything is offered at discounted prices and is my go-to for decorating ideas. I’ve used it so far to get pillows, rugs, dishwashing tools, coasters, shoes…half of my apartment…check it out online HERE.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond – Every year Bed, Bath & Beyond has tons of ideas for college, check out their deals HERE. Also be on the lookout for coupons in the mail, I’ve received a few 20% off and $5 off coupons!
  • Thrift Store – We all know about the great prices at thrift stores, but what would you get to decorate your dorm with? Be creative! My friend found a white, older looking lamp at a thrift store and here’s what she turned it into:

 

Now she has a fun, bright colored, modern owl lamp! She simply spray painted the owl with the blue color, bought a new lamp shade and voila! Awesome owl lamp.

 

If you have any tips for decorating a dorm, let me know in the comments!

 

Your First Credit Card: A Q&A for the Real World

This is a guest post from Laura Edgar, a senior writer for NerdWallet, an unbiased personal finance website committed to improving your financial literacy.

 

It’s exciting to be a young adult! Chances are, your life is filled with many firsts, like living on your own, taking advanced biology classes, and managing your own finances. This is a great time to explore your world and try new things. It’s also the perfect time to get your first credit card. When used wisely, a credit card will help you build your credit history and credit score. At NerdWallet, we spend our days digging through credit card disclosures and answering the tough questions. Trust us: you’re not alone if you’re confused. You’ve already taken a great first step by coming to a not-for-profit credit union for your information. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about credit cards.

 Why get a credit card?

A credit card offers you a secure and convenient way to make purchases. It will also help you build a credit history, which you’ll need when it comes time to buy your first car or apply for your first loan. You may even need a good credit score to rent a room or land a job. An increasing number of employers and landlords are requiring credit checks. Your credit score is literally your permanent record, so take it seriously. Use your credit card to make small, affordable purchases, not to buy things you can’t afford. You can certainly use your credit card to pay bills in an emergency, but always use this as a last resort.

What kind of credit card should I get?

For your first card, you’ll probably want a “starter card” or, if you’re a college student (part time totally counts), a college student credit card. Apple Federal Credit Union offers both. Their Credit Builder card offers a higher credit limit, but also requires you to put down money to secure it. You’ll get this money back when you close the account and graduate to a regular credit card. Apple FCUs Student credit card has a lower credit limit, but doesn’t require any money up front. Both cards have a very low APR, which is typical of credit union credit cards. You can read about each card in more detail here.

Should I pay attention to the APR or annual fee?

The APR is a percentage of your total balance, which you’ll have to pay in addition to your total balance if you rack up debt. You’ll never have to worry about the APR if you don’t carry a balance. That said, the higher the APR, the more debt you’ll have if you can’t make your payments. An annual fee is exactly what it sounds like: a yearly fee for the privilege of using a card. Apple Federal’s credit cards don’t have an annual fee, however.

Should I get a rewards credit card?

Rewards credit cards give you 1-5% back on your purchases. These cards also tend to have the highest interest rates. Rewards aren’t worth anything if you rack up debt. However, once you’ve spent a few years building your credit history and making regular payments, a rewards credit card is a great way to earn points or cash back for the purchases you make every day.

I’ve been told I need a cosigner. What does that mean?

If you’re at least 18 years old and have a full-time job, you can apply for a credit card on your own. If you’re under 21 and don’t have your own steady source of income, you’ll need to have your parent or guardian co-sign your application to get a card. This might sound annoying, but it usually gives you an edge. You’ll get to piggyback on your cosigner’s credit score, which may give you better options for credit cards.

What’s wrong with making minimum payments?

Your credit card statement will include a minimum payment option. If you like, you can pay this smaller amount and still be “in the clear” with your credit card issuer. However, this is exactly how people get into trouble and rack up debt. Don’t fall into the “spend now, pay later” mindset. When you incur debt, you are paying for the privilege of spending money you don’t have. Debt damages your credit score, which makes people less likely to lend to you in the future, and gets very, very expensive.

What if I have more questions?

That’s great! We’re serious; you should know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign up for a credit card. Make sure you read all the disclosures before you apply for anything. You can also stop by your local Apple FCU branch and ask a representative to help you. They can help you pick the right card for your needs and increase your chances of being accepted.

Ways to save at the DMV

I was on my way to work Monday when out of nowhere those bright blue lights that everyone dreads were flashing in my rearview mirror. I had no idea why I was being pulled over, and the officer looked particularly annoyed getting out of her car (thanks rain) to talk to me.

The officer let me know my tags (decals on my license plate) were expired. I was genuinely confused, in the past I’ve gotten a letter in the mail letting me know it’s time to renew. She explained I’d only get the notice in the mail if my emissions were due. Now, I’m not one to disagree with the law but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten notifications every other year. Then again I could be ‘remembering’ those letters because I’ve never missed a renewal date before.

Needless to say, what a great way to start off a rainy Monday! I was given a $25 No/Expired Registration Fee ticket, and if I decide to prepay I have to add a $62 Processing Fee. Yep, just like that I owe about $87. I went to the DMV website to find the nearest location to get my tags renewed and stumbled across some new information I thought you should be aware of!

  1.  As of July 1, 2012 a $10 late fee is added if customers renew their vehicle registration (decals) from DMV after they expire. As long as Virginians renew before their decals expire, this new fee will not affect them. I look forward to paying this fee…
  2. SET UP EMAIL and PHONE REMINDERS FOR RENEWALS! Go to the DMV Online Transactions page HERE and have renewal reminders sent via text, email or phone call.
  3. If you renew your vehicle registration (decals) online, you’ll save $1. Renew HERE.
  4. A $5 fee is added to each vehicle registration renewal transaction conducted in DMV customer service centers. Avoid the fee by renewing online, through the mail, over the phone (1-888-337-4782) or at a DMV Select location.
  5. An exemption was extended for vehicles registered with clean special fuel license plates to continue to use certain High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers. During HOV-restricted periods, HOV-2 lanes require a minimum of two people per passenger vehicle and HOV-3 lanes require a minimum of three. However, vehicles bearing clean special fuel license plates may travel on certain HOV lanes regardless of the number of travelers in the vehicle. Learn more HERE.

 

Sources: https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/notice.asp?id=134,
https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/utilities/offices.asp