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Simple Ways to Feel Luxurious as a Broke Post-Grad

Updated on September 18, 2015

If you're like me, you're making your way through your twenties, weighed down with bills, rent, and crippling student debt. If you're really like me and you were foolish enough to go into some difficult field like the film business, you're an incredibly underpaid production assistant who freelances around 70-80 hours a week and is still living below the legal poverty line. It sucks not being able to afford to do the things you like and buy the things you want. Like, really sucks. It's depressing. I have to consciously force myself to avoid coming within 100 meters of a Target store, even though buying pretty things makes me so happy inside. Or going out with friends for drinks and good food. Or anything fun that costs money, really.

It's that awful reality check that negates everything our generation was brainwashed into thinking from childhood: do well in school, get a degree, work hard, and you will have a good job and make a living. Your twenties will be the prime of your youth where you explore dating, the freedom of a trendy city and living on your own, enjoying real adult things like dinner with friends and buying nice things for yourself. But the truth is that right now, most of us are just trying to make it by, drinking beer alone while watching Netflix, scowling at all those other people on your Facebook feed who are getting married and having babies and such.

The other truth is that we have to suck it up, pursue our passions and dreams with deep ferocity, and in the meantime, we need to take care of ourselves. We can't exactly live the life our Pinterest boards have illustrated for us ("YET!" I declare determinedly), but there are little things we can do every day to stay grounded, focused, and feeling better. You still gotta #treatyoself when you can!

Make Your Space as Pleasant as You Can

The space you live in has an impact on your happiness, your productivity, and should be a place where you let your stress go. You should feel good in it. You should feel nice in it.

My roommate and I have a hodge-podge of mis-matched furniture that we either bought off of Craigslist or was donated by our parents from the bowels of that nightmarish era called the 80s. Our couches are ugly, they don't match, we don't have a real coffee table, and I can't fit a real dresser in my tiny-ass room. My room is a weird combo of a few smart Ikea purchases that give off the feel I want to have in my room and just whatever I could put together or repaint. Starter-home status. Everyone goes through that phase.

So maybe it's not that harmonious, trendy, Pinterest-worthy young professional living space you dream of. But you've gotta make it work. How?

GO MINIMAL. Once in a while, go through your clothes and knick knacks and ask yourself if you really ever use this shit? Will you really miss it if it was gone? If the answer is no, throw it out or donate it.

TRY TO BE TIDY. The simple acts of staying tidy (or occasionally doing a massive cleaning purge) can make you feel productive and way more positive. Make your bed. Try to have a place for things. Get simple, cheap containers to stay organized and look sharp.

My messy bathroom counter was jazzed up with a glass container for my makeup brushes, a cool little decorative container for bobby pins and such, and a fake plant. All from the dollar-store or other such bargain bins, all make the space look fresh.
My messy bathroom counter was jazzed up with a glass container for my makeup brushes, a cool little decorative container for bobby pins and such, and a fake plant. All from the dollar-store or other such bargain bins, all make the space look fresh.
A cheap-ass little vase and tiny dollar-store flower ended up rull cute.
A cheap-ass little vase and tiny dollar-store flower ended up rull cute.

DECORATE DOLLAR-STORE STYLE. Seriously, some of my favorite little decorative pieces around my apartment were bought at the dollar store or from little clearance shelves in Target and dressed to look nice. Arts and crafts stores are good for that too. Go to the dollar store. Get a clear glass vase. Get moss. Get fake flowers. Seriously, get a goddamn fake plant. No one cares that it's not real and let's face it, if you had a real plant it would die. Make your space look clean and spa-worthy! See my bathroom plant above? The fake white lily makes my countertop look so much more homey than just a messy bathroom countertop. It's the details that make your space feel "adult" and "homey."

It's still manly. Because you've got your battleship.
It's still manly. Because you've got your battleship.

Be Good to Your Body and Mind

We all have enough to deal with in our lives. You need and deserve to take at least a few moments, every day, to give yourself permission to be quiet. To be grounded. It sounds fluffy, but it really helps.

YOGA. It's not for everyone, but I highly recommend it. Do it at home. Use youtube for great videos. Find quick, 20-30 minute routines to start your day, or wind down. The stretches feel damn good, the effort of it wakes your body up. Plus it's a great way to clear your head and get your ready to tackle the rest of your day like a total boss. I loathe exercising, but yoga gives me the physical satisfaction of strengthening my body as well as feeling like a treat to myself.

HOME SPA BATH. Buy a light, slinky bathrobe. Go to the pharmacy and get a $7 bottle of body oil. Buy bath salts. They don't have to be expensive. CVS and Wal-Mart have these things for a decent price, and they last a while. Soak in a salted bath, read, do whatever it is you want to do that's purely for relaxation. When you get out, lightly apply body oil and feel luxurious all oiled up in your robe. Fellas, I recommend this for you too. If it makes you feel more manly, pull a Chandler Bing and bring a toy battlship into the tub with you. But really, it's a great way to wind down, get your brain ready for bed, and feel pampered as hell.

TREAT YOURSELF TO LITTLE THINGS. Drink good coffee from a French press. Have a good cup of tea. Light a candle here or there. Really, it's life's simple pleasures...

Being Productive Makes You Feel Good

I'm lazy as hell, but there are a few types of little tasks you can do that will just make you feel better overall. Doing little positive/productive/creative things will make you feel more in control of your crazy life, and just happier in general. Pamper yourself like so:

Whatever you do, it probably wont be this bad.
Whatever you do, it probably wont be this bad.

TRY TO COOK ACTUAL FOOD ONCE IN A WHILE. I'm no chef and I usually find that no matter what I do, my recipe never turns out as good as it does when mom makes it. But still, you should do it occasionally. (And I mean actually put some stuff in pots and pans, don't just microwave another Hot Pocket.) The internet is a vast wealth of resources for cheap, easy, tasty recipes (hail Pinterest). Even if you're complete garbage at cooking, just doing it once in a while will make you feel productive, smart, and make you feel like you're being at least a little creative. And once you make something edible, you'll feel pretty accomplished. Cooking demands your attention, and it's a good way to focus on something present instead of all the anxieties in your life.

On that same point, it never hurts to mix up a smoothie or something delicious slash not garbagy from time to time. Smoothies are easy, healthy, and you feel kinda swanky when you have them. Add alcohol as needed.

GET INTO A ROUTINE. Have a ritual. Dedicate time to certain tasks and it wont feel so overwhelming. I was never someone to keep a journal, but I did start using a planner. Each night I write down the most important tasks I have to do the following day, and possibly some goals. Little things like, "Remember to keep taking baby steps to becoming a go-zillionaire." When you have designated time for each task, you'll feel way less overwhelmed, and far more badass by getting all your shit done. Work those little happy things into your schedule, like yoga when you first wake up to get you pumped for the day, or walking the dog and then taking time out for a nice lunch and cup of coffee before jumping back into the havoc of life. Take. Breaths. You will feel so much more relaxed, accomplished, and confident.

TREAT YOURSELF TO THINGS YOU LIKE DOING. I used to write and read and do art all the time, and that creativity has died in me in my twenties. But these little refreshers for life are important. Tell yourself you're going to read for at least 30 minutes each day. Or spend half an hour unwiding with a video game, or do some art, or study something interesting to you, or whatever. Treat yoself to your hobbies at least once a day!

And Lastly....

Be frugal. Hustle for your dreams and be smart about your finances. But once in a while, just once in a while, buy the goddamn shoes. Or go have dinner with friends, or get that fancy Starbucks drink. Otherwise, what's the point?


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