How to Make a Budget and Stick To It

A constant balancing act in life is making and sticking to a strong budget, which is very important, especially when you have your own apartment. It makes life a lot less stressful and more organized when you have a budget planned out. If you’re not sure where to start or how to get back to a good place financially, here are some key steps to consider.

Budgeting Basics Tips

budget Pay off debt – Debt is the most common plague to someone’s financial status, and the best way to eliminate that burden is to pay it off, whether you can in full or through an extended payment plan. Once debt is out of the equation, you can focus on investments and things you actually want to spend your money on, not to mention improve your credit score and avoid collections agencies.

Future Focused – Instead of a retrospective budget, or one where you analyze the previous month’s spend, plan out what your expenses will be ahead of time, and plan your spending accordingly. This will control how much you spend and what you spend it on, and avoid overdrawn charges or any financial surprises.

Keep a reserve – Whether it’s a savings account or a set amount you always leave in your checking account, make sure you have some back up money in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. You never know when you might have car trouble, need to make quick travel plans or any number of things you’ll need access to extra money for.

Looking for a great apartment in the New Orleans area? 1st Lake has many attractive and convenient options!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and for those last minute-shoppers out there, we’ve got ideas for affordable gifts you’ll be able to find at your nearest shopping center. Make mom feel special with any of these Mother’s Day gift ideas!

Mother’s Day Shopping Guide 

mother's day gifts Summer scarf – Scarves aren’t just for winter! A bright and light summer scarf can be just the thing for adding a pop of color to summer basics – something moms are sure to love!

Stationery – Whether you’re giving your mom a custom-made card for Mother’s Day or a set of stationery with specialty messages in artistic type, note cards are always a good idea.

Coasters – Up your mother’s coaster game with special linen or satin stitched coasters that add a touch of sophistication to the common surface protectors.

Knit kit – Whether she’s just learning or it’s been a long-time hobby, a knitting starter kit or new needles and thread makes a great gift for any mom.

Floppy hat – Make sure your mom is protected from the shade with a new, stylish floppy hat. No matter if her style is casual or dressy, there are types for every taste.

Cactus garden – Many moms enjoy planting a flower or vegetable garden, but when it comes to low-maintenance plants that can live inside, a variety of cacti is the way to go!

Rolling pin – If your mom loves to bake, a rolling pin is essential. Personalize a basic rolling pin by getting it laser-engraved with her name and even a favorite recipe.

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Quick and Easy Recipes: Tortillas Three Ways

Tortillas make a great base for quick, easy and lighter meals for when time is tight, energy is low and diets are conscious. Any of these lunch or dinner ideas can be used with whole wheat, corn or gluten-free tortillas for a healthier substitute to the standard flour if desired. These are also adult and kid approved!

Making Meals with Tortillas

tortilla pizza

Photo courtesy of

Tortilla Pizza – Using tortillas for pizza crust is easier than making homemade crust and healthier than buying frozen pizza, plus you get to build your own pizza with your choice of toppings! Just spread pizza sauce over the tortilla, add cheese and your choice of meat or veggies, pop in the toaster oven or regular oven and presto! Add your choice of seasonings like garlic salt, Italian seasoning or red pepper flakes and cut into triangles. Dinner is served.

Hummus Wraps – This is a popular way to use tortillas and the combination possibilities are endless. Spread your favorite hummus over a tortilla, top with greens, cold cuts or prosciutto, fresh veggies and cheese, and wrap like a burrito for a delicious, hearty snack or light dinner.

Quesadillas – This is probably the most common use of tortillas and for a good reason. You can also make many different kinds of quesadillas, just like with the tortilla pizza or hummus wrap. Heat up butter or oil in a skillet or sauté pan on medium heat, place a tortilla in the pan, top the first layer with your choice of cheese like cheddar or a Mexican mix, the second layer with beans or veggies like onions and peppers, and a third layer if desired with meat like chicken or steak. Fold the tortilla over and make sure to flip the quesadilla until both sides are golden brown, transfer to a cutting board and cut into triangles.

Let There Be Light: Apartment Lighting Solutions

One home essential that makes the difference between being able to cook, clean and find things easily and efficiently is the lighting situation in your apartment. When you move in to your apartment, you will most likely need to bring in your own light sources in addition the fixtures that already come with your apartment. Check out these tips for making your apartment lighter and brighter that are rental and property manager-friendly!

apartment lighting

Stick-on cabinet lights

Task Lamps – If you need more light in your kitchen, bathroom, closet, or pretty much any room in your apartment, the easiest solution is to set up a task lamp. These flexible and portable lamps are convenient and can be plugged in a safe spot to add some more light where you need it in common work areas or go-to places to find household items you need.

Stick on lights – “Stick and click” LED lights are so convenient. These stick-on lights are battery operated, so no cords or plugs necessary, and they are inexpensive. Put them wherever you need more light in your apartment, including pantries, cabinets, closets or any dark corner in any room.

Under cabinet lights – Especially useful for smaller kitchens, overhead lights can be placed under cabinets which create dim areas in common food prep locations. Consider LED “tape lighting” which is an affordable strip of LED lighting which can be adhered to surfaces for extra light where you need it. These lights can range from as cheap as $15 and go up to $30 – $40 with enhanced quality.

Looking for a new apartment? We have over 9,500 apartments throughout the greater New Orleans area!

Apartment Decorating Ideas: Interior Color Palette

Have you moved in to a new apartment and are stuck on how to decorate and personalize it? A good way to start is by choosing a color palette. One of the great things about color is you can change the motif from room to room depending on what works best in your apartment. Here are the interior design color combinations that are trending this year. Consider incorporating them into your apartment’s aesthetic for a hip, current and striking interior design that will be a delight to be surrounded by, both for you and guests!

Interior Design Trends: Using Colornew orleans apartments

According to interior design blogs and magazines, the hot colors this year are purple hues, blue hues and neutral hues. If you need new or updated furniture or apartment accessories, this is a great opportunity to make your purchases with these colors in mind.

Purple and blue hues will make a great complement to white or beige colored walls, making those accent pieces pop in your apartment. Try purchasing rugs, throw pillows, blankets, ottomons or chairs in these rich colors that would work in any room of your apartment. For a fun project, you can also paint dining room chairs, trunks or a chest of drawers in these colors to customize the furniture you already have.

For neutral hues, use the white walls in your apartment to your advantage by using statement pieces, bold prints and wooden furniture that will be offset by the white tones for a balance of natural and bright qualities. Indoor plants will also add that pop of color to a neutral toned room.

Choosing the Right Color Scheme For You

Choosing a color scheme to decorate your home isn’t as simple as black and white; elements such as hue, saturation, and tint each contribute to the overall look of a color. Mood is a consideration, too – many psychologists believe certain hues encourage feelings like happiness, excitement, or tranquility.

Though the majority of renters are not permitted to make permanent changes to their living space such as painting a room*, changing the mood of a certain space can be as simple as accenting with objects d’art of a particular palette. If you’re unsure of the hue that would be best for you, read through the rainbow sampling below for ideas on how to splash some color into your home and mood.

Seeing Red

Seeing red isn’t always a bad thing. PhD Psychologist Sally Augustin writes that energy level goes up as color saturation increases. “Brighter, more saturated colors improve our mood,” she explains in her book Place Advantage. Hues like red, for example, ramp up the pituitary gland leading to increased energy. As such, red accent pieces can add vitality to a room without overpowering the space with too much color.

Decorating Blues

Blue, one of the coolest colors in terms of temperature, has long been associated with the feeling of tranquility. Yet in overabundance, cool blues can give a home an appearance of aloofness or unfriendliness writes color consultant Leatrice Eiseman in Colors for Your Every Mood. The author suggests light pastel blues for those seeking to create a “delicate, detached, ethereal ambiance.”

Mellow Yellow

In The New Home Color Book by Anna Kasabian, yellow is suggested as the new neutral color. Yellow, according to the book, is “warmer and more sumptuous than white, it works well as a backdrop for dark or black furnishings, and heightens the honey tones in polished wood floors.” Under the Clinton administration, much of the White House was decorated in yellow or gold as the Clintons enjoyed sunny hues. To add such warmth to your own home, try sprucing up rooms with cheerful yellow throw pillows or window treatments.

* A Word to the Wise for Renters *

As a New Orleans apartment management firm, we would be remiss if we didn’t add a note for renters. Decorating with color doesn’t always mean painting. But if you are so inclined, be sure to contact your apartment manager or landlord for rules on painting rental property – no amount of color will make up for the green that you could lose if your terms are not followed out (translation, Goodbye Deposit).

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