I’m a firm believer that we should invest in our living space until it’s an extension of ourselves and inspires us to pursue our passions. I took a long look around my apartment last month, and while I do love my place, I knew it needed some upgrades to truly resemble and inspire me. I needed to invest more in it.
The investment began when I went to IKEA to improve my bedroom. I still have plans for it, but I like where it’s going. As you all may remember from my previous blog post, I rearranged my bedroom a little and added a large mirror, a kerosene-inspired lamp, wooden hangers, a new hamper, and a wooden figure to liven the room up.
The final room is the living room, which I want to upgrade in phases to spread out the costs. A few not-so-recent additions are my tripod floor lamp and my plant, Vincent. I love these two pieces, and I believe they improve my living space significantly.
Over Christmas weekend, I received an outstanding picture of Benton, my hometown, from Bridgett, who said it best: “It fits your aesthetic perfectly.” The picture also helps me remember my roots and never forget the small town that raised me. I did plan to hang it up, but I found I’m not too fond of hanging things. So, I leaned it on my fireplace mantle. I LOVE this photo and its aesthetic.
I also purchased a Mid-Century Modern tv stand from Modway on Christmas Day. I’m fascinated and in love with the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, and I plan to decorate my entire apartment in this home decor style. Surprisingly, I built the tv stand within 45 minutes and didn’t want to snap it in half from anger. Go, me! I think it’s a huge upgrade from the one I started with — a simple, black tv stand.
Up next for the living room is a new coffee table and to improve the alcove. I want a circular, marble coffee table to satisfy the former desire, but the latter will take some time. I mean, I don’t mind the desk and corner stands, but I don’t love them. I want to love every section of my apartment, and I think the alcove is the final part. I’m not sure how to improve it, to be honest, so any ideas are helpful!
I treat my apartment as a sanctuary, if you will, to seclude myself from the outside world and focus on my life. I utilize the quietness to develop and plan the “what’s next?” Not only that, but I also use my apartment as inspiration to pursue my passions — fashion, lifestyle, writing, and photography. I love this apartment. I’ve said it since the first day I looked at it, and I’ll say it long after I move on to greater things. I hope you like what I’m doing with the place because I know I love it.
Do you know the phrase, “Like a kid in a candy store”? That’s how I would describe me during my first trip to IKEA, a furniture company that focuses on contemporary and minimalist home decor. I’ve heard great things about IKEA from Instagram influencers, Vloggers (video bloggers), and the internet, but I never had the chance to visit because the closest location is in Schaumburg, Illinois. However, I had the opportunity to visit this past weekend. My girlfriend, Bridgett, and I set aside a day to visit the mall and IKEA, but we should’ve dedicated the full day to just IKEA.
All I can say is, “wow.” IKEA is the furniture store of my dreams. Everything the store sells is simple in aesthetic, high in quality, and reasonable in price. Even the food court was outstanding and cheap. You can get pieces of furniture for half the price that companies like Target, Amazon, Walmart, Shopko, etc. would run you. But, just because IKEA is cheaper, that doesn’t mean the quality is poor. Quite the contrary, all their items are rather high-quality and will stand the test of time.
Because IKEA is the furniture store of my dreams, I was “like a kid in a candy store” the whole time we were there. With my eyes wide and mouth gaping, I sped from area to area, touched everything I could, and almost ran my cart into everything because I wasn’t paying attention. Luckily, I contained myself to act like the 22-year-old male I am. I also restrained myself from purchasing the whole damn store, and instead just a few items, which are listed below.
I’ve always wanted a large, body-length mirror, and I’ve had my eyes on this NISSEDAL Mirror for some time — I think for two years — but I wasn’t going to buy it online because I didn’t want to pay for shipping or risk it getting damaged. This mirror is exactly what I thought it’d be, and it looks amazing next to my clothing rack.
BUMERANG Wooden Hangers
Nothing improves your wardrobe space like wooden hangers. They add a layer of sophistication and elegance to something as simple as hanging clothing. They also work great for sweaters and chinos that you’d normally fold and put in your dresser drawers because the hangers are thicker and don’t damage the clothing’s shape.
JÄLL Laundry Bag
I had to upgrade from the plastic, chipped laundry basket I used for three years in college, so when I saw this laundry basket for $5.99, I wasn’t going to pass it up. I also like the plastic bag and simplicity of it.
GESTALTA Artist Figure
I got this figure for decorative reasons. It’s unique and fun to play with. My high school art teacher used to have one, and I thought it was really cool, so I had to snag for $7.99.
TÄRNABY Table Lamp
I’ve been in the market for a table lamp to sit beside my bed. I’ve been using an LED lightswitch nightlight that just wasn’t providing the amount or quality of light I wanted. What I mean by “quality of light” is I like warm light over cool light, in which the former produces a yellow hue while the latter generates a white hue. Warm light provides a greater sense of comfort and hominess, which I love. When I saw this table lamp from TÄRNABY, I knew my search was over. It replicates a lit kerosene lamp, which you can adjust the brightness to your liking.
I spent $108 on these five things, which is truly a steal. At any other furniture store, you’d be charged well over $150-$200. Even though I couldn’t get the tv stand I wanted because it’s out of my budget (which is okay because I’ve had my eye on this one and plan to buy it soon), I’d say this was an amazing first experience, and I’m extremely happy with this shopping haul. I know this may be the first IKEA visit, but it sure won’t be the last. There’re two more pieces of furniture I’ve had my eye on, which you can see here and here, but I want to think about getting them before I actually do. Either way, I’m obligated to visit IKEA again to check them out, right?
We live in an incredibly fast-paced world. One where everyone’s in a constant rush to get errands done, survive the workday/week, hurry to where they need to be, etc. Everyone looks ahead to the next thing they must do and forgets to appreciate the now. Heck, do you know how often we hear, or even say, “I cannot wait for the weekend. I just need to get through this week.” I would say several times a day, every single day. And, I’ll admit, I make this statement a few times a week. My question is: Why? Why do we want to rush through five days to enjoy two? Why do we want to wish our lives away?
I think we need to enjoy all seven days, living slowly and making every moment count. What I mean by living slowly, is I want to slow down my lifestyle and enjoy every moment, including the 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. job, working out, sitting at my favorite coffee shop with a delicious coffee. I’m striving to get the most out of my time, going from checking off a task to gaining valuable experiences. I’m learning to stop at various moments of the day to collect myself and appreciate my surroundings. This living slowly is a perspective I learned from the minimalist lifestyle.
There’re many misconceptions surrounding minimalism. Many people believe it’s living with the absolute bare minimum, like one pair of shoes, pants, shirt, towel, etcetera. Some people even go to the extreme and say minimalists can only own one spoon, fork, and knife. I’m not kidding. I’ve genuinely seen comments or heard remarks about it.
Minimalism isn’t about “living with the absolute bare minimum.” Yes, minimalists live with what they need (which may be a step above the bare necessities because why own more than you need?), but it’s about much more than that. It’s about appreciating what you have but not being bogged down or owned by your possessions. It’s about slowing down and making the most out of every moment.
I’ll also confess that I did not have this slow living mentality until recently. Rather, I was in this rushed lifestyle all through college. I made a checklist of everything I had to do in a day — class, study, lunch, class, work, workout, dinner, sleep — and I went through the day checking my tasks off as fast as I could so that I could move on to the next thing. I forgot to appreciate each moment of every day. That needed to change, and that is something I’ve been working on for a few weeks. (And, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about it. I allude to this living slowly concept in my last blog post about the journey versus the destination.)
Even when work gets a bit overwhelming, I make it a point to appreciate that I even work there because it’s an amazing opportunity for me and digital marketing is remarkable. When I struggle through a workout, I look around and am thankful I have the ambition and ability to exercise. When I’m laying in bed and the sunlight shines through and illuminates the room, I just have to stop and acknowledge this moment. And, of course, when I go to a coffee shop (like I do every week…), I relish in the savory coffee and coffee shop aesthetic.
Just because we live in a fast-paced society and work in a face-paced environment, that doesn’t mean we can’t stop to recognize a great moment and reflect on our lives. Yes, it’s okay to drive in the fast lane, but we also should take the slow lane every once in a while. You may not get where you’re going as fast, but you’ll enjoy the ride a lot longer and get more out of the journey we call life.
I consistently catch myself wishing it was years down the road to a time I’m well-established in my career, living where and how I want to live, and knowing how my life plays out. I watch older people with envy, wishing I’ve already “paid my dues” to get to their position. The problem with this is I see a destination, and in doing so, overlook the journey.
At a work gathering this past week, I was told: “You’re going to do great things, just don’t wish your life away to be where I am. You’ll get there.” Even though I’ve heard this before, it truly stuck with me this time. I was able to step back and recognize that I WILL do great things in life, even if I’m not there yet, which is okay. I succeed day in and day out, constantly learning and becoming better, and I’m happy with that. I’m happy to have a whole lifetime for personal, as well as professional, growth. I’m happy the one life I get is not even close to over.
I’m learning to acknowledge and appreciate what I have now — my outstanding first marketing job, in which I’m learning everything I can about digital marketing (social media, content creation, email marketing, search engine optimization, website management, and more); a beautiful apartment that exemplifies my personality and lifestyle; new and current friendships; my family; and the enthusiasm to discover who I am. I’m loving this part of my journey, but when it’s no longer right for me and the time to move on, then I will.
Life isn’t about a destination; it’s about the journey. It’s not about getting somewhere and stopping; rather, it’s about enjoying where you are, every moment of every day, and constantly becoming better. I will become well-established in my career, as well as live where and how I want to live, but that’s not the destination… that’s only another part in the journey. I have a long journey ahead of me (as we all do), and I’m ready for the long-haul. I want to look back later in life — when I’m at another part of the journey — and be proud I never settled for anything less than I knew I wanted or deserved.
Change. Change is an inevitable experience that we all have gone, are going, and will go through. The change may be small, perhaps a new haircut or a change in lifestyle. Or, the change can be large and significant, such as the loss of a loved one, a career switch, or a move.
My most recent change is from college to career. I went from being a student at Clarke University to a financial marketer at Heartland Financial USA, Inc. I also went from living in the dorms (and home for the holidays) to my own one-bedroom apartment in downtown Dubuque. I went from having a roommate who is — and forever will be — my best friend to living alone with a deafening silence. At first, the change did not seem significant. It felt like I was working for the summer then going back to school this fall. But, it hit me today that I wouldn’t return to my second home and favorite place in the world. I am no longer a current Clarkie but instead an alumnus. And, while I still go to Clarke to workout and see my people, it just isn’t the same anymore. It’s all changed.
Instead of fighting change, we must embrace it — all of it. Fighting the inevitable will not stop it from happening; rather, it’ll make the transition harder. I am embracing my change. It’s tough, yes, because Clarke means more to me than people realize. It was where I found my family, my passions, my self. It was my life for four years and counting.
To my senior and junior friends at Clarke: Don’t wish the final moments at Clarke away. Yes, the stress sucks, the course load is overwhelming, and you “just want to graduate and do what you love.” But, don’t forget about the good times — the home athletic games, chatting with Mary Ellen, sitting in your dorm/apartment/place with your friends that have become your family. Take the good with the bad and embrace it all for your final year(s).
Along with the theme of Scotty McCreery’s song “Five More Minutes”: I wish I had just five more minutes as a current Clarkie. Trust me, you’ll feel the same way too, once you settle into the next phase of your life. As cliche as this whole post is, this just adds to it, but I really couldn’t care less because it’s the truth… and I embrace that I’m very cliche. In all, don’t let change get you down or instill fear in you. Change is good. Change allows you to grow into the person you’re meant to be.
Money. The power behind this word is remarkable. Everything that happens in the world all comes back to money, and that is bizarre to think about. Everyone’s lives are controlled by how much money they have. For example, it determines if you can make that trip to Europe, afford an apartment, or replace your worn-down clothing. People make their business decisions — legal and illegal — based on the profitability. Some people even choose their college major and career based on how much they will earn. Hell, it even determines if people eat for the first time in days.
I have become more conscientious about finance and my own spending since kick-starting my career in Finacial Marketing. This all started a few months back after I landed my first big-boy job; moved into my own place; and started getting a steady income, as well as bills to pay. I began by comparing my bills, student loans payments, food budget, and miscellaneous purchases to my income. The plan was simple: Ensure I had more money coming in than going out. Luckily, and thankfully, I understand budgeting to the degree that my income trumps my spending.
A quick little background on me as to why finance is something I am interested in, why I am writing about it right now, and why I started a career in the financial sector. I was unfortunate — but also fortunate — enough to not come from money. My family and I had financial issues, but we managed to make ends meet. I even began my first job at 12 years old so I could help in any way to pay for food, bills, gas, etc. I didn’t get the luxuries other kids my age were getting. We never went on vacation or got most of what we wanted. But, we had a roof over our heads, food in our kitchen, and a healthy amount of love for one another. We were not rich in wealth, but we were rich in other ways. (The fact we even own a home, cars, clothes, and food does make us more wealthy than half the world, I know.)
Now, don’t confuse the above paragraph with me complaining about how I was raised. I am beyond thankful growing up with just enough money to survive because it forced me to develop an impeccable work ethic, allowed me to value other things beyond money, and showed me how to be wise with my wealth so that I could live comfortably. My experience without money allows me to appreciate my current life with (some) money.
And, this leads me to what this blog is about. People don’t recognize they are developing or have bad spending habits that will cripple them in the long-run. All too often I hear people mention how they have no money to even buy groceries or a snack from the convenient store. How they are living paycheck to paycheck, praying they make it through the month. And, it saddens me because I know they’re not truly living or experiencing life to the fullest. They’re forced to allow their financial situation to control their lives.
No one should live a life in which the lack of money forces them to make sacrifices… no matter how big or small the sacrifice is. Money should be part of our lives and used to enhance it, not ruin it. Now, hold up, before I go any further, I just want to say that I am no money guru who has it all figured out. I don’t have a degree in finance or some crazy knowledge of money management. However, I think I have a solid grasp on my finances and am consciousness and aware of my spending, which allowed me to create a strong financial foundation at 22. I have a solid saving, can and am making all my bill payments, already have my 401(k) started, and have enough left over to splurge time and again. I would say I am financially stable. Also, I want to state that I am not bashing or shaming others who are struggling financially. Life is tough and money will be slim at times. We all have been or will be there.
The whole intent behind this post, as all-over-the-place it seems right now, is to get you to think about your financial situation, as well as to contemplate if there are things you can do differently to improve your financial stability. For those who are well-off and flourishing financially, I tip my hat to you. But, you can still be part of the conversation. You can shed some light on the topic and perhaps offer your own advice to those who need it. Because, even if no one will admit it, people would love the advice. I know I am ALL ears to ways in which I can improve my situation further than it is, even though I would say I am doing a good job currently. There are others who are older, wiser, and more financially experienced than me that could offer guidance.
Which leads to my closing. I want to offer my own advice to those who need it. While they are simple, they make an impact and can really help steer you in the right direction. My first piece of advice: Budget like no other. All my financial successes and stability are because I budget. A few weeks ago I downloaded this nifty app called Mint. Mint is a free budgeting app which allows you to link your bank account(s), utilities, and other services so that they are all in the same place. It will show you your spending week by week; let you know when you have an upcoming payment/deposit and how much that’ll be; notify you when you are over-budget on food, gas, going out to eat, clothing, etc.; and much more. It is such a valuable asset I think everyone should utilize. There are many other apps out there, but I personally like Mint.
Another piece of advice I have is to follow the 30-Day Rule. This rule is simple and allows you to combat impulse spending. Whenever you feel the urge to make a purchase (not including necessities like food, gas, toiletries) avoid making the purchase for 30 days. This allows you to sit with the thought of purchasing it, which lets you think about why you want it, if you need it, what are the pros and cons of getting it. Is this something you actually want or just an impulse buy? After 30 days of thinking about it, you make the decision. If you still want it and can afford it, get it. But, odds are you don’t want it anymore. You can read the full-flesh explanation about this rule here. It really is something to try. It has helped me save SO much money, especially when I go into Target or TJ Maxx. Nine out of 10 times, I don’t want the item.
The final piece of advice: be open to criticism, knowledge, and growth. Like I mentioned earlier, there are SO many others who have a better grasp on this subject than me, and I always listen to their advice or criticism with full ears. Yes, my initial reaction may be to get defensive. “Oh, this is BS. They don’t know what they are talking about” becomes “Well, they had an excellent point” real quick. Also, I absorb as much as I can on finance. Whether it is a book, an article, or even a TV show, I suck it all in and allow it to digest. Every little thing helps me grow my financial wisdom and understanding. And, just for funsies, here are three finance books I plan to read: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsay, I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and Unshakable by Tony Robins. These are books that helped a YouTuber/photographer/podcaster I follow to pay off his $97,000 student loans in four years. Check out his video here. In all, I know I have much to learn and kinks in the armor to fix. I will get there with constant guidance and criticism and growth.
In the words of Robert J. Shiller, “Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It’s about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society.”
I have become a full-fledged adult since my last blog post. I have a college degree; my own apartment; and a full-time, big-boy job. Since I have been quiet lately, I thought for those who 1) read these and 2) care what I write about would be interested in knowing where I am in life.
And, I have been approached by several people telling me how much they love my blog and read every single one. Some of these people I haven’t seen in years or barely know. Honestly, it is humbling to hear these comments from people, and it definitely reminds me why I do this. I wanted to get back into blogging officially and permanently because of those people.
Moving beyond the sappiness above, here is an update on Kyle Majerus’s life.
I FINALLY GRADUATED COLLEGE. After four long years of intense stress and rigorous work, I graduated from Clarke University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a minor in business administration. I will be honest, there was a three-week period in March in which I didn’t think I was going to pass my English capstone (senior thesis and presentation) because I had to re-write my paper three times (20-25 pages each time, mind you…).
BUT, I DID IT. I graduated magna cum laude, as well as with the highest honor bestowed upon a Clarke graduating senior, the Francis J. O’Connor Memorial Award.
Now, I am taking a break from school for a few years. However, I have full intentions of returning for a Master of Business Administration in either marketing or entrepreneurship.
I know, I know, for over a year I wrote how I was moving to Chicago right away upon graduation. I even went so far as to interview for a manager position out there. However, after speaking with professors who lived there for years and friends from there, I knew I couldn’t support myself with an entry-level job. Making ~$40,000 a year does not cover paying rent for a 300 sq. ft. studio apartment that costs ~$800/month, utilities, various bills, and student loans. I was honest with myself and told myself that once I get a few years of experience under my belt, I can get an upper-level job and support myself while living in that beautiful city.
Besides, I seriously love Dubuque. And, for those who haven’t visited or been here in a while, the downtown area is seriously stepping it up. The main street has unique shops; the library is outstanding; the Millwork District is breath-taking with shops, aesthetics, architecture, and apartments; the farmers’ market is incredible and quite large; and many other factors make Dubuque downtown an outstanding location. My apartment is in downtown Dubuque, but not in the Millwork District, sadly. That would have cost $1,200/month… yeah, I am good. I totally would have if I had a roommate, but there are only three people I would live with — two live in Chicago and one refused, haha.
But, I love my one-bedroom apartment. It is so cozy and screams “Kyle!” I won’t describe it to you; rather, I prefer the old saying “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Well, here are 7,000 words.
P.S. My plant is named Vincent.
P.P.S. My apartment is not complete yet. I still have a few more pieces of furniture to get. So, updates to follow in the future!
P.P.P.S. The natural light is AMAZING in this apartment when the blinds are open. Oh, my Lord, it is my favorite things about this apartment.
I got the opportunity for a unique experience at Heartland Financial USA Inc. here in Dubuque. I am going through a marketing management trainee program, which they call their marketing academy. I am a full-time employee, not an intern, FYI. I will work in the marketing department as a whole, such as digital marketing, analytics, product development, and sales support. The intention of this program is to 1) make me a well-rounded marketer and 2) train me to become a marketing manager. Instead of working in one specific area, like copywriting, I get to experience the full range of marketing! I am on week three, and I absolutely love it. The work I do is empowering and important.
Oh, and I am a living testament that 1) Liberal Arts degrees are extremely useful in the “real world” and 2) Liberal Arts graduates can work in the business world. For those who are worried about their major and if they are employable: yes, you are. It goes beyond the degree you have. It is about the skills, experiences, and grit that you have. So, make sure you are interning and getting involved in professional development any way you can!
Finally, I can live my life the way I want to again. College impeded me because I was always bombarded with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and work. Presently, I work, and once I get off, my life is my life. I can do the things I love to do again.
Beyond what I do with my life, I decided to go deeper with how I live my life and commit even more to the minimalist lifestyle. As you can tell from my apartment photos, I really do not have much beyond the basics. And, that was my intention. I don’t need much to be happy, so I simply want what I need. After graduation, I went through everything I owned, and I think I threw away over 75% of my stuff. They just did not bring me happiness or have a use anymore. I desire quality over quantity. Yes, this means I may spend double on a pair on chinos, a sweater, etc. But, these items will last, at least, three times as long, if not longer than the cheaper options.
For example, for the past two years, I wanted this simple gray sweater from Asket. (Yes, for two years I have contemplated buying it.) Yes, it comes with a high price tag, but the quality is worth it. And, I know it’ll last for several years. So, would I rather have a $30 H&M or Target sweater that lasts one year or the $95 Asket sweater that lasts five? Yeah, in the grand scheme of things, the latter is the best option. I think I am going to finally pull the trigger on this sweater next week, I think after two years of contemplating it, I should get it.
Trying to move beyond the materialistic lifestyle is something I am still working on. I still want things I don’t need, surely. But, I will force myself to think about the item(s) for a minimum of two weeks before I make the purchase. And, after weighing the decision and if the desire is still strong, then I know it (they) is (are) something I really do want and need.
Am I or will I become an extreme minimalist? Goodness, no. That is going too far and a bit ridiculous. I will be minimal in most areas of my life, but I still will own some things I do not need or have a bit too much of. I am human.
In all, life is good, everyone. All the pieces have fallen into place nicely. Will this be my life forever? No. Will I move around, move up in the professional world, and change aspects of my lifestyle? Yes. Because that is what growing as a person does.