Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.

“Ask Heather” Week 5


I love your blog! And reading them just makes my day.  It’s just so addicting and I love how you answer anything, and everything honestly.   I wanted to know if you have any tips/advice on becoming more independent.  And what it may be like to live on your own (since you live in New Orleans now).  I live with my parents, and I am interested in being that independent person and finally not relying on them.  However, it is easier said then done.  It would be really helpful if you can list some things I need to know before I decide to out on my own.  For example, I need to know how to pay my bills.  Or I need to know how to cook.  Lots of examples would be great.

Living on your own is an adjustment. I actually got the opportunity to live away from my parents for four years at college, and very rarely came home. I already had some experience paying my own bills, cooking my own food and doing my own laundry. Therefore, I was decently prepared when it came time to move out after graduation. However, there are things that you don’t realize are necessities until you are truly living on your own.

In college, I had multiple roommates. So, combined, we basically had everything covered that you could possibly need. When I came out to New Orleans, my relatives and parents gave me some dishes and utensils, and I had pans and pots from college, but then there are always those little things that you don’t realize you need until you don’t have it. One is a plunger… another is a can opener. A toolbox and extension cords are usually essential, as well. At this day and age it’s really not too difficult to run out and locally purchase those items, so it’s more of an annoyance than anything. You will experience a lot of these annoying moments for the first year or so, especially if you had parents like mine who lived in the same house and had acquired basically everything along those years.

As far as the obvious one, yes, you need to pay your bills. You will need to set up and pay for utilities such as water, electric, gas and cable. (Plan to have all of these set up before or on the day of your arrival) You will most likely have to pay a security deposit and half of first months rent if you are renting. You should always take pictures of the place before moving in, in case you have any issues at the end of your lease.

When it comes to laundry, always separate colors vs. whites/delicate clothing vs. towels.
For whites, dedicates and any colors that you are washing for the first time- use cold water
For pre-washed colors- use warm
For towels- use hot

That’s about it. The rest is really trial and error. Good Luck!

I go to a university where if you get an A- for an entire year you will receive a $2000 refund on your tuition. For a four year degree this could be $8000, but only IF you keep up your high average! Obviously the money is good and a scholarship on a resume never looks bad, but I am wondering if is it better to focus all of your time on your grades hoping you can reach the average needed for a scholarship, or simply pass your courses and spend your time working? I had a scholarship this year and worked as well, but I know that if I didn’t spend most of my time trying to get As on absolutely every project/essay/exam I could work more and be making more than $2000 over the two school semesters! Does work experience throughout university look better than a scholarship on a resume? Should I risk losing my scholarship in order to earn more money through my job, and just get my degree without having such high academic standards?

There are a lot of variables here, since I don’t know what your current job is or what you could potentially make throughout those two semesters. As far as work experience vs. GPA on a resume, I’d say 9 times out of 10, a potential employee values your GPA over your part time college job. That is, unless your college job was an intern at NASA, or something extremely applicable to the position or their specific company. If you’re a bartender, waiter, tanning salon receptionist ect., despite the fact that it shows you are good at multi-tasking, they’re not going to be very impressed. Personally, I don’t think slacking a little on your grades is worth the money. The job market in incredibly competitive, and a higher GPA makes you stand out more than any part time job. Unless you can make like 10 grand over the course of those two semesters, I’d say stick to the books.

I hope you’re doing well. I really enjoy reading your blogs. I think that it’s such an important discussion to have. My question isn’t so much about debt, but a question about your education. Like most people, I found you through television and I always remember thinking that you are such a concise and eloquent speaker. The topics of your arguments were so heated, but you always maintained composure and spoke logically and clearly. I am a writer. So I can communicate well with written word, but I might as well be a mute when it comes to public speaking. So my question is, is that just your nature? Did you take classes to help teach you how to deliver your arguments? I know your focus in college was broadcast based so did that help?

I appreciate the gracious compliment. Since I was a child, I’ve loved writing. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that not everyone is graced with this literary skill, so I began to hone it. It became something I was pretty proud of. And I always felt this skill was extremely useful when it came to public speaking, because despite them being two different mediums, both shared the goal of delivering a clear, concise and logical message.

I was never afraid of public speaking, whereas I’ve had some colleagues who found it horrifying. I’m not saying that I ever found public speaking fun and enjoyable, I’m not a complete nerd, but the thought of it never really bothered me. I think this partly comes from my innate instinct to see everything for what it is.

Confidence is key when it comes to public-speaking. Even if your not naturally confident at it, or unafraid- fake it. Find reasons to downplay the fear of it. For example: You’re literally just talking, something we do every day, in a room with people in it. Most of these students are hungover, zoned-out or texting underneath their desk. I could probably start reading the Martin Luther King “I have a dream” speech instead of covering my pot legalization speaking points and maybe five people notice or care. One being the professor. And you should be even more confident knowing that you are a good writer. I always got confidence from my writing ability because I figured even if I personally didn’t do well, I usually had an edge over the next person going up.

Whether you’re scared or not, you will look like a blubbering idiot up there if you’re not prepared. Preparation is everything when it comes to public speaking. You can’t just copy and paste some bullet points and pictures, you really have to take the time to understand the subject you’re talking about. And not just understand it, but explore it a little. If the people in the front row who are actually listening know more about your topic than you do, that’s a problem. If you really immerse yourself in your topic and prepare, public speaking is a whole lot easier. Being able to improvise is essential. With being good writers, it’s often enticing to write speeches out word-for-word with exactly what you want to say and read it off a piece of paper- but for the audience, that sucks. Sometimes good public speaking is like a good singer. A good singer may not sing perfectly every performance, but no one cares if they are passionate and fun to watch.

I remember you mentioning [on the Real World] that you had previously been cheated on. (Side note: I know how that feels, and I’m so sorry someone put a great person like you through that..his loss!) Just recently I broke it off with my boyfriend of 3 years because I found out he had been cheating on me almost our entire relationship with about 20 different people. My question is: how did you manage not to completely give up on love and how did you manage to ever trust someone again?

I’m sorry to hear about that. Being cheated on sucks. Trusting people, only to find out that they weren’t worth the trust, is extremely difficult. It happened to me fairly early on. I was in a four-year high school relationship with a guy that was two years older. He wasn’t a bad guy, but we were extremely young. By the time I was a Junior in High School, he was in college and had a much more exciting life than me. I had heard rumors towards the end of my Senior year, but of course he continued to tell me it wasn’t true. It wasn’t until my Freshmen year of college that I found out what exactly had happened and decided to move on. For me, it was easier because I was in a new place away from him and anything that reminded me of him. I realized at that point that I had two choices. I could be upset and isolate myself, and probably end up hating college and moving home, or I could try and get involved in as much as possible and put the relationship behind me. I chose the latter. I joined a sorority, student government, my school TV club and basically anything that would take me! I made a ton of great friends and attended events and parties frequently. I also dove into school and reached my goal GPA. College definitely made it easier, but I handled my second relationship break up similarly and wasn’t in college. I planned shore trips with friends, joined a dance studio and auditioned for The Real World! LOL. Sometimes situations that seem awful or hopeless can actually lead to some incredible memories, if you handle them the right way. I truly believe that happiness is a choice. And don’t ever carry the pain or troubles from your last relationship on to your next. Every person is completely different, and they deserve love, respect and trust until they prove otherwise. And at that point it’s your choice to decide whether or not to move on.

One comment on ““Ask Heather” Week 5

  1. xoxox
    May 3, 2013

    I love your Blogs <3
    Do another Recap for The Real World.

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