10801367834_124d4d580c.jpgDo young people care about voting? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. Sure, we millennials may be all Twitter-obsessed and glued to our smartphones, but many of us are also politically inclined -- or at least interested enough to drag ourselves out to the polls.

High Voter Turnout Is Likely Among Millennials for 2016

Whereas voter turnout may have been lackluster on the part of millennials for previous elections, there's good news for 2016: In a recent survey, 77 percent of millennials claimed they are "absolutely certain: or "very likely" to vote in 2016, and another 14 percent said they will "possibly" vote, thus potentially bringing the total up to 91 percent.

This increase in young voters could really swing the election, as many studies indicate that it was the younger vote that propelled Obama to victory during his two successful runs for office. According to the Pew Research Center, the last two presidential elections have had the widest gaps in voting between young voters and older voters since 1972. In 2012, 60 percent of voters under 30 chose Obama, while only 48 percent of those 30 and over followed suit. In 2008, 66 percent of voters under 30 gave Obama their votes, compared to 50 percent of voters 30 and older.

Furthermore, in 2012, those aged 18 to 34 made up 19 percent of voters--a small increase from 18 percent in 2008. But interestingly, only about half of millennials who were eligible to vote actually hit the polls -- which is why it'd be great if we could somehow get to 91 percent the next time around.

Here's another interesting point: While men and women don't always agree on everything, both young males and females feel that voting is important. Of those surveyed, 88 percent of men aged 18 to 34 said they're likely to vote, while 95 percent of similarly aged females have similar plans.

Of course, if the 2014 midterm election is any indication of how things will shake out next year, here are some interesting factoids:

  • Millennials represented an estimated 21 percent of total voters, which was on par with stats from years past
  • Roughly 9.9 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 turned out to vote
  • Democratic candidates took more of the millennial vote than Republicans

That last stat certainly makes sense. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of millennials identify as Democrats, whereas only 35 percent consider themselves Republican.

How Will Millennials Vote Next Year?

So the big question is: Who's going to get the young vote? According to Fusion's Massive Millennial Poll of those aged 18 to34, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the top choice among young Democratic voters, while New Jersey's Chris Christie came away as the top Republican candidate.

Of course, there's still a fair amount of time till the next election, which means all the candidates in question have ample opportunity to sway young voters one way or another. And let's not discount the possibility of a major scandal to really shake things up.

Either way, one thing's for sure: When it comes to politics, millennials are paying attention. In fact, our collective social media fixation may be a good thing when it comes to fueling voter turnout. Only time will tell how millennials wind up impacting the next presidential election, but the fact that they're itching to vote is a positive sign.

If you're on the fence about voting, take some time to read up on the issues at play. You never know how your say might make a difference.

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6012104092_5fc261fa4b.jpgSo you're working a summer gig at a fun office. The people seem happy, the environment is perfect and the company is thriving. It's too bad you'll need to give up your job to finish up your senior year of college -- or will you? If the company is growing and you've managed to build a reputation as a hard, efficient worker, there may be an opportunity for you to pick up where you left off once your senior year is complete. Here are some tips to help you snag a full-time role post-graduation:

Keep in Touch
The last thing you want is to be forgotten when you abandon your summertime post and head back to school. Be sure to exchange contact information with your managers and coworkers, and make a point of staying in touch. You can do this through sites like LinkedIn or by shooting your old colleagues the occasional email to check in. Better yet, if your college is local, or if you're in town frequently for visits, make plans to meet up with some coworkers, have lunch with your old boss or even stop by the office to say hi. This way, there's a good chance someone will think of you if a new long-term role opens up.

Freelance or Work Part-Time
If you're a full-time student, full-time work probably isn't an option. But if you attend college locally, you could try taking on a part-time role at your company while you complete your studies. If distance is an issue, ask if it's possible to freelance from afar. You may be able to work on specific projects from the comfort of your dorm room. Similarly, you can look into interning as another alternative. Your company might jump at the chance to continue using your services on a part-time basis and transition you to full-time once you're done with school.

Keep up Those Good Grades
Your GPA isn't everything, but if you continue to rock those term papers and final exams, you'll be sending the message that you're a focused, hard worker. Remember, even if you've built a good rapport with your boss and coworkers, by the time you get closer to graduating, there may be a different hiring manager in charge who's never met you. And there's a good chance that person will want to study your resume before deciding whether to make you an offer. So tempting as it may be, don't flake out your senior year.

Speak Up
If you're serious about snagging a job at your company after you graduate, talk to your manager before you leave and find out what it'll take to make that happen. He or she may be able to offer some concrete tips that'll help you secure that coveted full-time, post-college role. If, for example, you spent your summer at an advertising company, your manager might suggest that you try to squeeze in a couple of extra marketing courses to beef up your skills. You really have nothing to lose by having an open conversation.

Of course, just because you discuss the possibility of a full-time role doesn't mean you'll actually get one -- even if your request is met with enthusiasm. Over the course of a year, circumstances can change, company needs can shift and finances may go south. Your manager may have every intention of hiring you back once you complete your studies, but if he or she encounters unexpected roadblocks, whatever informal offer you have may quickly be rescinded. In other words, even if you think you're all set job-wise, have a backup plan. It never hurts.

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20470875393_c3f0bee9af_o.jpgI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I bought my first house. There were so many things the mortgage lender and closing company assumed I knew that I didn't. I was 23, and used an FHA (Federal Housing Authority) loan. It took about a month to close, but I finally sealed the deal and held the keys to my first home. Even so, there are still a few things I wish I'd have known beforehand.

The Not-So-Little Details.
Getting a mortgage isn't for the faint of heart. Prepare to have your credit score, job history, bank statements and financial position scrutinized.

Closing costs. These are the fees associated with closing a real estate deal. This includes fees for signing the paperwork, pulling your credit report, setting up the mortgage and recording the transaction. The cost can vary depending on how much the mortgage is for, but is usually between 3-6 percent of the purchase price.

Ask about making a good-faith deposit. A good-faith deposit is an amount of money given to the seller from the buyer (or 3rd party) when making an offer on a house to show the offer is serious (usually around $1,000).

You don't have to use the lender's title company to close. Sometimes the seller will even pay the closing costs if you ask nicely. But, if the money is coming out of your pocket, estimate higher than you're expecting. I had to run a check to the title company three times due to unexpected costs.

Everything is negotiable. The asking price, the closing costs, the percentage rates, the down payment and the "good faith" deposit. Everything. 

Don't use the same real estate agent the seller uses. Find your own from a different company, or hire a buyer's agent. Trust me on this one.

Buy down your points. If you qualify for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4.5 percent, you can usually “buy down points,” or pay more up front and get a lower interest rate (in addition to your down payment). Most banks have a limit on how much you can pay down, but one point = 1 percent. This lowers your monthly payment and will save you thousands over the life of the loan.

Make the largest down payment you can afford. Just because the loan terms allow you buy a house with 3.5 percent down, doesn't mean you should throw down the minimum. The larger the down payment, the less you're paying in interest down the road. Also, try to pay down your mortgage as quickly as possible. A $100,000 house actually costs about $330,000 over the life of the loan. You should rarely pay more than the asking price, but never pay more than the appraised price.

Consider a 15-year mortgage instead of 30 years. This cuts the life of the loan in half, and the payments aren't that much higher. Also, make sure you get a fixed rate so your interest rate doesn't change.

Don't get emotionally attached. There are hundreds of houses in your area, any one of them could become "home."

Buying a home isn't for everyone. Maintenance on older houses can be expensive, and there's no one to call and fix the AC if it goes out. You can ask about a home warranty, which some lenders offer for free for a year or two.

Finally, before you buy, do your homework. Buying a house can be a great long-term investment, but it can become a nightmare if you're not prepared.

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So you're all nice and pumped to create or update your resume to secure a job that can actually pay the bills. There's just one problem: All of your work experience to date has been, well, kind of unspectacular.

It's not your fault. You were probably stuck in that classic catch-22 situation where you wanted a more respectable job but couldn't get one because you didn't have any experience at a more respectable job. But fear not. Even if your work history is, in your mind, relatively unimpressive, all it takes is a little creativity and wordsmithing to spin your experience for the better.

Here's how to do it:

  • So you spent the past six months selling soda at the movie theater -- but that doesn't mean you're just a concession stand clerk on paper. As far as your resume is concerned, you're the Beverage Distribution Coordinator.
  • Did your time as a camp counselor? Youth Activities Facilitator sounds far more impressive.
  • Maybe you spent the better part of last year taking orders from hungry customers. Instead of calling yourself a waiter, give yourself props for being your local's diner most beloved Food Services Liaison.
  • Did you log way too many hours this past semester as a lowly photocopying intern? Sing your own praises on your resume as the ever-invaluable Materials Disbursement Director.
  • Many of us spend nights and weekends on cash register duty. Hey, it pays the bills. But why call yourself a simple cashier when you could instead be a Financial Exchanges Controller?
  • Worked at a clothing shop? You probably offered up a friendly opinion or two while manning the dressing rooms or helped people find what they were looking for on the shelves. Congratulations -- you can now call yourself a Fashion and Wardrobe Consultant.

But wait, there's more!

  • If you spent your last few summers as a nanny or mother's helper, you can toot your own horn as a Personal Childcare Manager.
  • Were you hired as a grocery bagger? Try Food Packing and Storage Administrator.
  • Spent hours upon hours on your feet showing theater goers to their seats? You're more than an usher; you're a Logistics and Safety Associate.
  • And of course there's the classic administrative assistant role -- you know, the one many of us have no choice but to take. Don't downplay your skills. You have every right to slap the words Executive Lifesaver all over your resume.

Okay, so maybe this is taking things to a bit of an extreme, but the point is this: Even if your work experience has been limited to low wage jobs that underutilize your skills and intellectual prowess, don't make the mistake of selling yourself short on your resume. Rather than just list what you did and when you did it, find ways to highlight your personal achievements. If, for example, you worked at a store but earned a bonus each month for stellar performance, don't be afraid to call that out on your resume.

Finally, remember this: Your resume is a summary of your work experience, but it's not the only thing that defines you. Even if you can't easily wow your would-be employers with years of dazzling expertise, you can make up for your lack of experience with your cover letters and personality. The key is to have some confidence in the lessons you've learned and skills you've acquired while working that menial job, and to sell them as enthusiastically as possible. After all, if there's one thing employers love, it's a new hire with a positive attitude.

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Most of my friends spent their college graduation gift money on new apartment furniture and fancy gadgets. I spent mine on interview suits. Since I had no employment prospects and a pile of student debt, I thought it prudent to get moving on the job search. And thankfully, my efforts paid off, because I managed to snag a full-time job within two months of graduation.

But I also hit some hiccups along the way. Some of my interviews were less than stellar, and there's one that will always stick out in my mind as unquestionably disastrous. If you're looking to blow your chances of getting a job, simply do as follows, like I did:

  • Make sure to schedule that interview in the midst of summer on the hottest possible day of the year. This will make you feel even better about wearing a hot, stuffy interview suit.
  • Forget to set your alarm the night before, thus ensuring that you wake up at the last possible minute and wind up rushing out the door looking nice and unkempt. (Untamed hair coupled with the aforementioned humidity makes for a really professional look.) If you're a woman, make sure to slap on some eye makeup so that it can then run down your cheeks, goth style, when your face can't stop sweating.
  • Fail to check the weather forecast that day and neglect to take an umbrella. Arrive at your interview in full drenched rat mode.
  • At the reception desk, be sure to ask for Jennifer Smith when the person you're meeting with is, in fact, Jennifer Schmitt. There's no better way to make a solid first impression than messing up your interviewer's name.
  • Bring a hard copy of your resume, but make sure it's the outdated version you used last year when you were applying for summer internships. This can especially help build your case when your interviewer asks you to describe your best attribute, and your initial response is "pays attention to detail."

Seriously though, while I had one horrifically bad day, it seems like college grads on a whole are dropping the ball on the interview front. According to York College of Pennsylvania's 2012 Professionalism in the Workplace Study:

  • About 40 percent of applicants don't dress appropriately for job interviews.
  • Approximately 29 percent of applicants arrive late for interviews.
  • Around 26 percent of applicants fail to read up on the companies to which they're applying.
  • Nearly 25 percent of applicants exhibit poor verbal skills.

Looks like we all need to get our collective act together, and here a few ways to start:

  • Come prepared. Make sure to bring a copy of your current resume with you.
  • Dress the part. Bust out those business suits, and men, don't skip the ties. Running a comb through your hair beforehand also doesn't hurt.
  • Do your research. Read up on the company and the product(s) or service(s) it offers. Gather some industry info beforehand so you sound like you know what you're talking about.
  • Be ready to explain why you'd like the job. Most interviewers will want to know what drove you to apply, so don't respond with a series of clichés.
  • Be yourself. But only if "yourself" means a reasonably polished, well-spoken individual who comes across as employable. You don't want to sound rigid or overly formal during your interview, but you should sound professional.

Of course, you could also ignore this advice and turn your next interview into a categorical fiasco. You probably won't get the job, but hey, at least you'll have something funny to write about.

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You've got to give yourself some credit. Literally. Fewer than half of you use a credit card, and your financial tabula rasa could mess things up when you want a house or loan. Make your life in plastic more fantastic with these tips:

Check your credit score(s). Certified credit counselor Greg Harper says that most of the credit reports he sees are wrong. Get a free report at annualcreditreport.com and check for correct addresses and bank accounts.

U.S. law entitles you to a free report every year, but because creditors report to three bureaus, Harper recommends you pull a copy from each bureau every four months.

Find alternatives. "If you don't have any credit, the hardest thing is to get about establishing that," says Kathy O'Masters, a credit union representative. If your credit application isn't approved, consider a certificate of deposit or share secured loan. You deposit money into an account, which the bank then freezes and issues you a card with credit for that amount. As you repay the loan, the bank releases the money you originally deposited.

The advantages: Interest rates are low, and you can build credit without banks checking your history.

The disadvantages: CDs report like any other loan, and if you don't pay, the bank will keep your money. Luckily, you can set up automatic payments.

Another option is to co-sign a credit card with someone who has enough income or credit to be approved. But keep Harper's advice in mind: "Co-signing is something I'd recommend nobody do, unless you go into it saying, 'I'm going to take full ownership of what I'm co-signing for.'" With cosigning, paying -- or not paying -- affects your credit scores.

Monitor your plastic. If you're living off ramen through college, you might not need a credit card yet. These cards are not for supplementing income. "You want to build credit so you can buy a house or buy a car. If you're struggling, your credit shouldn't be a priority," Harper said.

He added if you already have a credit card and want another, be discerning. "There's not a lot of people I see that have one credit card. It's 10 or 15 of them." Most of them are department store cards, too.

Pay on time. Start healthy repayment habits now to entice future lenders. Paying for rent, your cell and utilities won't build credit, but not paying on time can ruin it. Good habits will get you what you want later, according to Harper.

Budgeting can also help. Aim to spend no more than 29 percent of your income on housing and 35 to 38 percent on your whole household budget, which includes food, car insurance and health care.

Care for credit you have. Most states let you do a security freeze on your credit to prevent identity theft, which prevents people from opening new accounts without your knowledge. Do this. Such freezes typically cost $10 or less for all three agencies that track your credit, so eschew expensive companies.

Watch your credit limits. "You don't want to use more than 30 to 50 percent of your available credit. Period," Harper cautions. This means if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit, you shouldn't use your card for more than $500 each month. If you go over, creditors see you as mismanaging your credit because you over-obligate yourself. That shiny new smart phone will have to wait until next month.

Having good credit often comes down to being friendly with your bank and finding an insider to vouch for you. "Don’t be defined by your circumstances," Harper says. "Be defined by how you handle them."

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In recent years, administrative assistants have earned an average of $34,000 per year -- not a bad salary if you're a somewhat recent grad in the midst of paying your dues. But what if you find yourself doing the work of an admin assistant when that's not, in fact, what you signed up to do?

It's a trap that many junior or entry-level employees fall into easily. You're hired to do a specific job -- perhaps one that even reflects your area of study -- but because you're the low man or woman on the totem pole, you find yourself making far too many photocopies for comfort. You want to participating in meetings, not booking conference rooms for them.

Now let's be clear: There's nothing wrong or demeaning about putting in your time as an admin assistant. Even if you're the smartest person to emerge from your graduating class, without prior experience in the working world, you may have no choice but to take a job that's heavily administrative in nature. But if you were offered a completely different title with specific responsibilities that do not, by any means, fall under the admin assistant umbrella, then you have every right to stand up for yourself if your manager or superiors don't appear to be playing by the rules.

Here are three tactics for addressing the situation:

Be firm, but don't be whiny or confrontational. Yes, you should state your case, but don't just moan to your boss about how you didn't sign up to be an admin assistant. Even if you're right, you need to be diplomatic. Let's say you were hired as a junior copywriter but instead find yourself on reception desk duty for several hours a day. Try saying this: "I want to help out as much as possible, but I'm disappointed that I'm spending so much of my time answering telephones and taking down messages. Can we work something out so that there's better coverage at reception? This way I can focus on copywriting."

Remind your boss why you were hired in the first place. Let's say you were hired as a junior accountant. Try stating: "I know there's a lot of work to be done around here, and that sometimes I may be asked to pitch in on other tasks. I'm really confident that I can help get our books in order and recommend cost-saving strategies going into the next quarter. That's what I promised you back when you interviewed me, and given the time to focus on my core responsibilities, I'm certain I'll be able to deliver."

Make a case financially. If you're being paid $50,000 a year to work as a marketing professional but find yourself doing little marketing and lots of coffee-fetching, try saying the following: "I'm happy to be a team player and help out with things that may fall outside my core job responsibilities, but lately I'm doing so much admin work I feel like you're not getting great value for your money. You can hire a part-time admin assistant for $15 an hour, which is much less than I’m making. This will free up much of my time so that I can do the things I do best and add real value around here."

Remember, being the youngest or lowest-ranking employee doesn't mean you deserve to get slammed with admin duty every time the need arises. If you're tired of playing the role of admin by default, do something about it quickly -- before people get too used to the idea and increasingly take advantage.

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Growing up, I always wanted a pet but couldn't because of my father's supposed allergies. So when my husband suggested we get a dog, I immediately jumped at the idea. We were really excited to have a cute little puppy to play with and also thought it would give us a taste of what it would be like to one day have a kid. (Um, wrong.) As luck would have it, my husband had a friend who was moving to an apartment where pets were prohibited, and before we knew it, we were bringing home our very own fluffy cock-a-poo.

We figured the adjustment would be easy. After all, the puppy was already trained, so it was really just a matter of getting him used to his new surroundings, right? Not so much.

During those first few weeks, our dog transformed our entire house into his personal urinal. Every time I turned around it seemed like there was yet another corner that suddenly reeked of pee.

We went back and forth on where the dog should sleep -- our room versus a crate downstairs -- and one night decided to let him share our bed. The next morning, we both woke up to wet feet. At first we figured the dog had just licked us affectionately while we were sleeping, but once we realized it was in fact urine between our toes, we had to quickly rethink our sleeping arrangements.

Leaving for work in the morning was also an ordeal. Every day I'd head out to the sound of the dog crying, and while it was great coming home to a happy, excited pup, it was not so great coming home to dog poop all over the floor.

Eventually things settled down and we got used to life with our yappy little dog. But we learned some valuable lessons along the way:

Make sure you can really afford a pet before you get one. We have a small dog but still spend $300 a year on food and treats, plus another $400 a year on pet meds and annual checkups. On top of that, we spend about $400 a year getting him shaved and groomed (which, incidentally, is way more than we spend on our own haircuts). The ASPCA has a breakdown of average pet care costs that any potential pet owner should look at.

Pet care can be time-consuming. We knew we'd have to walk the dog on a regular basis, but didn't realize how much time we'd spend brushing his teeth, bathing him and cutting his nails.

Pets take up space, and they can mess up your space. Sure, you can stick a small fish tank in the corner and call it a day, but if you get a dog or a cat, you'll need room for your pet to roam around. That also means you can't rule out the possibility of your cat scratching up your beloved couch cushions, or your dog vomiting all over your area rug.

You'll have less freedom once you get a pet. Once we adopted our dog, going away got tougher. We had to travel for several weddings that first summer and each time faced the dilemma of whether to board our dog at a kennel or beg someone to temporarily take him in. The few times we did attempt to travel with our dog, we faced major restrictions, as most hotels either don't allow pets or charge a premium to bring one.

Despite the costs involved and challenges we've faced since getting our dog, we're really happy we did. Besides, what's a little hard work in the grand scheme of unwavering loyalty and unconditional love?

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By this point you’ve done the math and have decided buying a house makes fiscal sense, and you're ready to begin looking for a house. Not just any house, the house. At the very least, you're embarking on a new journey that is full of promise, but can also be full of expenses if you don't look closely before buying.

Before examining the potential house of your dreams, remember this one thing: Do not make purchasing a house an emotional experience. Do not develop an emotional attachment to any house. You may absolutely love a house, put in an offer, and someone else outbids you. It happens. The chances are, if you lived in a house two blocks over with similar features, you'll be just as happy with that one (and probably several dozen others).

If you can, bring a friend, parent, aunt or uncle with you who knows about construction and who knows what to look for. Cast your pride aside -- they may spot something that will save you thousands.

Some of the first things to check for are structural. Check the foundation for any cracks, bowing, shifting or anything outside of the normal function of concrete (or blocks, in some cases). A house with a bad foundation is something you always want to walk away from. Foundation repairs can easily begin at $2k, and can cost up to $30-40K, depending on the severity. Also, look at the joists, something many buyers forget to do.

The circuit breaker box is a good indicator of how well the home's electrical system is. Older houses will have far fewer outlets, while newer ones will have several per room (I didn't discover this until after I bought my house, built in 1887). Take a cell phone charger and test at least one outlet in each room to ensure the circuits are working. Flush the toilets and turn on the faucets for the same reason, unless the water is winterized. If the home has an unfinished basement, you should be able to see some of the plumbing and determine its status as well.

The air conditioner, furnace and hot water heater are also important to examine, and are often overlooked. If any are more than 10 years old, it's wise to upgrade and budget for it now, rather than later. It's also worth taking a close look at the deck or patio, as are gutters and windows (if they're wooden frame or single pane). While you're outside, check the shingles. It's not necessary to go on the roof for this, but check the shingles that are clearly visible and peek in the attic for any holes or wood rot. In the attic, also inspect the insulation.

Before you close the deal on any house, your lender will more than likely require an inspection. Consider buying a home warranty from the lender, or asking for it in your loan. It may pay off hundreds down the road. Additionally, you can negotiate with the seller to fix something prior to the sale. Finally, you probably won't catch everything, and that's ok. Just remember, when buying a house, you are inheriting all its problems since its construction -- but you will also reap all its rewards.

Photo by Ian Munroe via cc.

When I first moved to Manhattan I shared an apartment with a roommate who was an absolute nightmare. After surviving that ordeal, I decided that my next apartment would need to be roommate-free.

I was worried that tackling rent and bills on my own would leave me perpetually cash-strapped. To go from sharing an apartment to signing my own lease, I had to be willing to pay an extra $400 in monthly rent. I also had to furnish the place myself, which was another expensive prospect. (My former roommate may have been crazy, but at least she owned a TV and a couch.)

And, oh yeah, there was also the matter of paying the equivalent of three months' rent at move-in (first month's, last month's and a security deposit). In case that doesn't sound like a lot, let me break it down for you: This is Manhattan we're talking about--the land of the $12 sandwich and $5 half-gallon of milk. It may be the city that never sleeps, but it's also the city that sucks away your money at every turn.

Once I moved in, I created a monthly budget and stuck to it for the most part. Living without a roommate meant compromising on other things. While many of my apartment-sharing friends were busy dining out several nights a week, I was in my kitchen making homemade enchiladas or whatever quick meal I could whip up on the cheap. On the other hand, once they got home from said fabulous dinners, they had to deal with roommate drama, whereas I did not--and for that, I was perpetually grateful.

Now I'm not going to say living alone was 100 percent wonderful all the time. Aside from the financial stress of not having anyone with whom to split the bills, I experienced some other challenges as a result of living solo. For example, when I was way behind getting dressed for a friend's wedding and realized at the last possible second that I needed help zipping up my dress, there was no one around to assist. Then there was the time I had to leave my apartment for several hours after discovering a scary spider with no one there to help make it disappear. (I may be brave in certain regards, but when it comes to all things creepy crawly, I'm a self-proclaimed wuss.)

And of course there were all those times I got annoyed about the mostly empty fridge or the mess in the kitchen--it would've been nice to have had the option to blame a roommate, but instead I had no choice but to blame myself. In fact, several months after moving into my own place, I realized that as long as your roommate isn't insane, having someone around can be nice sometimes.

But that's the thing about roommates. "Sometimes" isn't a choice. When there's another name on the lease, that person is going to be there, in your apartment, all the time, and you can't say a darn thing about it. When you live on your own, you get to choose when you're in the mood to have company --and when you're not. You're absolutely allowed to throw on pajamas, order an extra-large pizza and share it with no one.

Renting my own apartment was one of the best moves I could've made. I had the freedom to host get-togethers without having to consult anyone else. I could hog the TV or stink up the kitchen with zero repercussions whatsoever. Living alone was a liberating experience, and ultimately one well worth the cost involved.

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