Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Single & Fabulous

One of my best friends is overcoming a heart break as her long-time & live-in boyfriend of many years broke up with her two weekends ago. It took her completely by surprise… and me too. Whatever her now ex-boyfriend’s reasons may be for the change of heart, my friend is bravely embracing the adventure that lies ahead of her as a single & fabulous girl. My friend is at a point now where she has to move on and move out.

Fortunately, she told me last night that she found an amazing apartment in Toronto above a little cafĂ© in the city’s core and today, the lease is signed so the place is hers. This will be her first time living completely alone: no boyfriend and no roommate. She asked me for some advice on handling the adjustment and was ok if I wrote it via my blog. This post may have very little to do with finance, but it is personal so here we go.

Your nest

A single girl should never compromise when it comes to her home! If it means pinching your budget by a few more pennies each month to live in the perfect neighbourhood, then do it! The best feeling in the world is coming home to a place that feels just like “home.”

Whether this means cushions that perfectly accent the paint on your wall, a chic crystal chandelier dimly lit above your table, cupcake accents in your kitchen, or candles everywhere in the bathroom, now is the time to express yourself through your nest. The best apartments are decorated one piece at a time so don’t rush out to IKEA for your home furnishings. My best advice is to search Craigslist for previously loved furniture that suits your budget and for inspiration, check out Apartment Therapy daily.

And don’t forget that you’ll now get to enjoy a queen size bed all to yourself (and sometimes with an occasional overnight visitor) so make sure your linens are always fresh and pillows are plush.

Your fridge

A fabulous girl whether she is single or coupled up is also a healthy girl and a well-balanced diet is crucial. I’ll admit that this is harder to do as a single girl since cooking for 1 can become dull and difficult. But don’t despair! Plan out your menus and then go grocery shopping.

You should also plan meals that are easy to make and keep well:
  • a pantry stocked with peanut butter and protein powder that just needs to be mixed with almond milk, ice, frozen berries and ½ a banana for a breakfast shake
  • cook up a frittata on Sunday night so you can slice a piece for breakfast throughout the week
  • shop for fresh vegetables and local produce for easy lunch salads. Check out Women’s Health for these wonderful recipes.
  • try new recipes and come up with your go-to-no-thinking required dinner. My favourite is a Caribbean spiced roast salmon with salsa on a bed of black beans and vegetables.
I remember my first grocery trip as a single girl living in her very own place as I purposely bought a bottle of Perrier. I’m not sure why – there was just something sophisticated about having bubbly water in my fridge just for me to enjoy.

Your bookcase

Fill your bookcase and your mind with inspirational words and tales from leading ladies. Biographies and books by women in business are my favourite as they remind me how powerful women are and they offer countless role models. These are the books that sit on my shelf:

Your bank accounts

I shopped way too much before I met my Eye Candy and while there’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself, it should never be mindless. Don't make my mistakes. Instead, put your mind to work and build your budget. Now is the time to get your finances in order – be your own prince in shining armour by creating a path to your achieve your goals. Focus on maximizing your RRSPs, building a savvy investment portfolio, and saving towards your dreams (whether it’s a closet full of Chanel or ziplining through the Amazon.)
Being a single girl is initially expensive as there is no one to share costs with… but it doesn’t have to break your piggy bank. After all, a lot of couples tend to double-up their lives when they co-habitate by opting for a bigger condo, moving into high end neighbours, or splurging on an extra vehicle. Living on your own does not mean you’re financially behind your coupled-friends as living within one’s means has nothing to do with your relationship status.

Your safety

Confession time! When I first lived by myself, I was paranoid about being kidnapped. Seriously. I worried that it would happen on my way home from work and no one would notice until the next morning when I didn’t show up for work.  I was definitely watching too many episodes of Without a Trace! So to calm my nerves, I made a point of emailing, phoning or text messaging someone every night just so I knew that there was a person out there who could account for my where-abouts at X hour. Silly? Maybe. But it made me feel better so who cares?

Whether you opt for a condo with a concierge, black-out blinds, or a security alarm, do whatever it takes to make you feel like Sheera in your own home. Always be cautious and use common sense. Perhaps “checking in” at home every night via Facebook is not a smart habit since you don’t want your 784 friends to know exactly where you live, but don’t be paranoid about every bump in the night. And for goodness sakes, stop watching Criminal Minds.

Your social life

Be a butterfly! Chat with people! It turned out that 3 of the women in my building worked at the same company as me but in different departments. Our weekly laundry room chats turned into wine drinking evenings on the balcony and taking turns hosting dinners while turning into Grey's Anatomy. 

As a single girl, I also opted to go back to school in the evenings. Not only did I grow my social circle, but in less than two years, I earned a graduate in PR and Communications.

I also made a point to accept invitations – whether from co-workers or classmates so I kept my social calendar pretty busy. After all, showing up, surveying a party and realizing you’d rather just go back home is always an option… but at least you were out and about the town to begin with. I also highly recommend furry friends. My rescued my cat Fernando from the SPCA on day 2 of my life in Montreal and he's been the best companion ever since.

The bottom line

I wouldn’t trade my life with my Eye Candy and our little Zoo for anything, but I am so glad that I had a few years of living on my own and living it up as a single girl in the big city. It helped to shape my personality, my tastes and my confidence. Whatever your living arrangements or relationship status may be, the most important part is that you make each adventure as fabulous as you are. 


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