Finding My First Solo Apartment

This post is sponsored by Zumper. Opinions are my own.

You’ve heard the apartment hunting stories - or, nightmares rather - and I’m telling you there’s lots of truth to them. I recently decided to take the challenge of moving into a solo apartment meaning I had to do all the searching, vetting and signing on my own (*cue music*).

Living downtown had been such a highlight, but the trouble is the spaces are rather small for the buck. So, I decided to keep the location more open to see where that would take me. While that is a bonus, it also made the search a little more difficult because it felt like the options were endless!

To alleviate the burden of the search, technology was my best friend. I’ve mentioned a few apps and resources in the past and decided to give something new a try: Zumper.

Born out of frustration by the old way of renting, Zumper creates a smooth, efficient and transparent renting process for both tenants and landlords. You can search for specific amenities, create alerts to notify you of similar listings, and find specific neighborhood information such as rent prices and demographics. Ok, ok I had to give it a try.

If you’re relocating to NYC or just moving nearby in the city, Zumper Select, available in New York and Chicago, takes the hassle out of apartment hunting. Tell them your move-in date and budget, and from there the experts will help you find options that fit your needs.

Zumper Rental App

So: where did all that take me?

After sorting through apartments that would fulfill my wishlist, I found myself looking mostly in the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, or Midtown area. I gave myself 6 weeks to search, with alerts on, and used my weekends for viewings. Things to keep in mind:

  • 3-4 weeks out is the sweet spot. In NYC, so many apartments come and go, and landlords are looking for ASAP move in.

  • If you’re using the weekend for tours, do first thing in the morning on Saturday. Many people are doing the same thing, so you want to be among the first to check out a place.

  • Try to stick with the same 1-2 areas for your appointments, it will save you time! Busy bee like me? If you don’t have the time to schedule 100 tours, Zumper will schedule them for you and can even join you if you’d like.

  • Have ready the things you’ll need to apply if you see something you like while on the tours. Think: your last two paystubs, most recent tax return, employer’s salary letter, ID, and checkbook.

  • If you LOVE something, take it right there. Chances are, if it’s your dream apartment it’s also someone else’s, so apply then and there if you don’t want to miss out. This happened to one apartment early in my search.

At about 3 weeks out, I found it!

The dream space in a new neighborhood between Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District. I went for it because of space and price, neighborhood initially coming in as my lowest priority and then becoming one of my favorite elements. Truly the dream.

Once you find a dream place, Zumper’s local rental experts are standing by to provide advice on the neighborhood, and help sign and move you into your new space. Seriously, it couldn’t get easier!

It’s still a work in progress, but here’s a first look at how it’s coming together. Here are my three favorite spots in my new place (left to right):

  • The couch space: WOW do I love my couch. It’s so cozy and turns into a full-size bed for guests. There’s also secret storage and all the pillows I need.

  • The bathroom: I feel like I never had enough space to lay out my skin and beauty things comfortably. I have a ton of bathroom space now and am at peace in this space.

  • The reading nook: I love my bookshelf came out, and I treat this space as a little reading nook thanks to the cozy ottoman.

Do you have any tips on moving into an apartment in the city? I’d love to hear them! #MakeYourMove

The One Thing to Do Every Morning to Energize the Day

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Alive! Multivitamins, but all opinions are my own.

I have a confession: I am a morning person...only if you can get me out of my grogginess when I wake up. What I mean is, I love the idea of the morning because it often comes with a fresh start. But, admittedly, I do find it hard to shake off the feeling of being incredibly exhausted.

What’s really been pushing me to get up and out every day is a handy dandy self help book. I try to wake up and reach a chapter each day, and on days where I can’t handle the pages I’ll tune in to a relevant podcast. Working long hours and learning about business as I go is a huge undertaking, but leaning into these to start my day keeps me fueled to create passionate work (*screams* YAAAAAS).

This self-care in the morning is also rounded out with fuel for my body. I recently tried Alive! Multivitamins to add a dose of plant-fueled energy to my day, made from delicious fruit flavors. This brand prides itself on premium and mindful sourcing of vitamins and minerals to provide more than 100% or more daily value than leading brands. I grabbed myself the Ultra Potency for the power boost I needed.

From early birds to wellness enthusiasts, this line of vitamins offers a variety of products to fit your specific needs and unique wake up call. While this will work differently for everyone, what I found is that it was an easy way to incorporate better habits into my daily wellness routine. Just knowing that I was taking the extra step to fuel my body with valuable nutrients toward overall better health made me feel even more ready to take on the day. It also travels really well, so that was a bonus.

Looking to revitalize your daily routine? With Alive! Multivitamins, you’ll be on the right track. Grab some for yourself on Amazon and use the code 15ALIVE1 for 15% off. #OwnTheMorning

Why So Many Millennials Have a Side-Gig

Millennials Side Hustle Side Gig.jpg

Millennials hustle hard. You may have heard that 4 million American currently have a side-gig. So what exactly is a side-gig? A smaller job that you do in addition to your main job to make a little extra cash.

Millennials are known for being the generation with side hustles. That’s because the people most likely to have side hustles are thos aged 18 to 26, and some of them are making upwards of $500 a month.

Right now, about half of all Millennials have a side-gig. So now that I’ve shown you the numbers, you know that side-gigs are a big deal for us. When I was in college I had a small internship as a side-gig where I’d run social media campaigns for local businesses. I also have friends who have side-gigs like dogsitting, housesitting, babysitting, and driving for Uber.

“I started driving for Uber when I heard from a friend that they made about $200 more during the week just driving after work... I only drive on weekends and holidays but it gives me that extra cash to save for a vacation at the end of summer..” - Jane, 28, Salt Lake City, Utah

That means a lot of people are using their free time to make more money. So, why have millennials latched on to this trend while baby boomers and Gen Xers continue to live on one paycheck?

We know how to use our phones to make money.

Smart phones have changed the game for working millennials. We have potential income at our fingertips, and can make money through a list of apps like Poshmark, TaskRabbit, Rover, Fiverr and iPoll.

Not only are the opportunities easily available, but they’re convenient. Translation: you don’t even have to leave your house! As long as you have a strong internet connection, and you’re always contactable, you can work from the couch or while lounging by the pool. Having a side-gig means having a flexible, convenient, easy way of bringing in more income for yourself.

Basically, you can use your phone to make up to $500 a month on the side. Not bad.

The top side-gigs for millennials are selling items online, clothing and accessories, cleaning, marketing, and cooking and baking. And what are we using our side-gigs for? Millennials are experience-seekers after all...oh, and living is getting more expensive!

In some cities, the cost of living has increased drastically in the last few years. On top of that, Millennials have been name the “wanderlust” generation because they love to travel so much. In order to afford all that travel, as well as pay upwards of $1,000 in rent in some major cities, it’s no wonder Millennials are taking up side-gigs. Millennials also love local products, and top-tier technology. These things don’t come cheap!

If you’re a millennial looking for extra cash, consider taking up a side-gig. Create a budget, pick a savings goal (a week in Hawaii, maybe?) and figure out what you’re passionate about. It’s time to turn that passion into a paycheck!

Do you have a side hustle? Tell us about it!

So, About Traveling

When I was younger, I always hoped I would be able to travel more. All I knew was a handful of countries within the Caribbean, South America and Europe, never even really traveling within my own country. Granted, that's certainly more than many Americans since only (a shocking, yet not so shocking) 36% are passport holders. It wasn't until I went away for college that I realized there was so much to see and it was all pretty much within my reach.

Flash forward to New Year's Eve 2016. I was en route to Chicago to meet a friend and sat next to an incredibly friendly traveler: Cait. She was on her way back from spending two weeks in Cyprus. Why? Because she just felt like exploring. I want to say she was a teacher at the time? Hearing her incredibly approachable and relatable stories to how she started collecting passport stamps, I spent a lot of my trip to Chicago thinking about how easy it could be to travel. Ladies and gentlemen, I started 2016 with the travel bug and I haven't been able to shake it off since.

I'm the first to admit I made pretty irresponsible decisions when I started traveling. I was already using the Delta Skymiles credit card and had racked up a few points to my use, but I spent a lot of money traveling that year (more on this will come to light over the next few weeks, oy vey). I didn't really understand what a "deal" meant, and I was still living this "omg I have a salary" attitude which meant not knowing how not to throw away my money. My reason for traveling that year was:

"I want to collect as many Snapchat location filters as I can, and travel somewhere every month."

I accomplished it that year. With a little bit of work and leisure travel I hit more than 12 cities, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Austin, The Bahamas, New York (multiple times), Washington D.C., and more. With each new experience, I became much more well versed in travel and allowed myself to spend less time on the "how to do it" and more brain power appreciating each unique place I was visiting.

In 2017, I vowed to keep the momentum going. This time it wasn't for Snapchat filters (can someone please smack 24-year-old me?), but it was to further explore the world and connect with friends or strangers (#solotravel). I learned a lot from my mistakes and triumphs, but here are the highlights:

Start a travel savings account

One of the many times I'll tell you, don't be Lissette. Traveling is much more fun when you don't have leftover debt from your last trip looming over your head. Aside from tactics like setting aside money each month toward travel, I use Digit to automatically save money each day. Their nifty algorithm takes into account your spending habits and sends moola to a savings platform, which you can set up with categories like "travel." It's incredible how at the end of a few months, I've got enough for at least 2 flights without having moved a muscle. Another indirect way to save is making sure you're taking advantage of frequent flier programs. Even if you think you won't be using that airline more than once or twice, you never know where those benefits come in handy. And you're also missing out on a ton if you don't have a points card. I'm a personal Amex evangelist and started off with the Delta card before switching to Platinum (here's 40,000 points, you're welcome). 

Do your deal-search.

There are hundreds of very legit deal seeker apps and websites. I personally use Kayak as my go-to for booking flights because I feel I'm getting the most comprehensive, and cheapest, results. Google Flights is where I get my second peek, with Amex Travel as my final destination since I get bonus points for booking through them. If you're looking for something to track flight prices, Kayak provides a nifty tool for that or Hopper is another crowd favorite. If you have no idea where to go but you know you have dates in mind, I'm obsessed with Skycanner's "Everywhere" search tool which shows you the cheapest flights around the world on your chosen dates. I'd also recommend following top bloggers in this space like The Points Guy or Scott's Cheap Flights. Take advantage of signing up for your favorite airlines' newsletters as you'll get the best deals in real-time. The biggest takeaway is to never take the first price you see as the end-all-be-all. There's probably something much cheaper out there. 

Book the damn flight.

The hardest part about travel is booking the flight. And more often than not, the most expensive part. Once you feel you've done your due diligence and squeezed every reward, deal, tracker, etc., for the cheapest flight available, it's time to hit the "purchase" button. So much of the rest of the journey will be easy to figure out, especially if you're flexible, once this piece is done. If you're trying to corral a group of friends for a trip, make the first move. Once one person is in, others will follow. Four of my major trips last year involved friend groups of more than 3 people and I was always the first one to kick things off (cc: Cuba, Mexico City, Summer Euro Tour, Morocco). 

Take advantage of AirBnb or phone a friend.

The next most expensive part is usually the accommodations piece. The only time I've slept at a hotel in the last two years is when it involves work travel and the booking is outside of my control. I live by AirBnb (here's a discount code for that). There's something so special about staying in a home vs. a stuffy hotel. Many times, if you do enough research and book in a timely manner, you're getting amenities and a value that is incomparable to what you would get at a hotel. They're also adding AirBnb "Plus" now, so you can get that more upgraded vibe that you would get at something like a boutique hotel. If you're feeling social and on a super tight budget, don't forget to peek at Hostels. And, of course, if you're lucky enough to have friends at a destination don't be afraid to come clean about wanting to crash. I know I am incredibly flexible about letting friends bunk with me given that so many have opened their home for me in the past. 

Use an itinerary app or digital assistant.

Remember the days of using a travel agent? This was a booming industry for a reason. There's a sense of peace to having someone else do all the work for you, so in this DIY culture I'd still recommend you get a digital travel assistant of some kind. If you follow along my stories, you'll see that I hold all my travels under Kayak's handy app. I can't even bother to write about other recommendations because I've simply found nothing as useful as this. For starters, you can link your e-mail address to it so that any travel-related communication gets stored and created as a "trip." It's also smart enough to know the pieces that belong to a trip, rather than starting a whole new itinerary with every incoming message. For example: When you book the flight, you've got a new "trip" created but once the accommodations, activities, rental cars, etc., roll in, they're simply added under the same cover. The app also includes a simple-to-read guide for your confirmation number, security gate wait times, airport maps, receipts, phone numbers, addresses, etc. And it's also incredibly up-to-date so you'll get delays and gate changes in real-time on the app.

Stick to a carry on, I believe in you.

If you want to live the frequent traveler life, you've got to sacrifice on space. And I promise, it's actually a huge benefit. You're saving the hassle of going to the gate to drop off, waiting for your bag afterward, or risking lost luggage during an important trip. I always travel with my Raden carry-on (hooray for charging ports) and my Madewell Transport Tote for the laptop, snacks and things I need at hand. A few times, I've added a Herschel Fanny Pack if I want an added layer of ease (plus, it's mad cute and affordable). I also live by the "rolling your clothes" technique, which I learned on a trip to NYC with my friend Dani from her aunt after I had a hilarious overpacking experience. It also helps to cut down by only bringing what you'll use. Making lists in advance helps filter through this. Ok, I get it, this topic deserves its own post and I'll get it to you soon. Note: many airports are following the Euro-centric rule of putting liquids in a clear ziplock bag. You're safest if you keep all things in a pouch of your choice and make sure to pack the clear bag to get you through security if you're asked to remove it from your bag. They made me take it out of my carry-on in a U.S. airport recently, yikes!

Sign-up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.

There's nothing like showing up to the airport 40 minutes before your flight, making it to the gate without running, getting to your seat without problems, and enjoying a smooth ride to your destination. Well, the only way to save yourself about an hour at the airport is by signing up for TSA Pre-Check. It is one of the handiest helpers, and I'm unsure how people travel without it. You keep your shoes on, no one gives you major issues, and the lines are usually a 5-15 minute experience. If you travel abroad a lot, or plan to, Global Entry might be a better fit and that comes with Pre-Check already. Global Entry makes the customs experience on your return a smooth 5-15 minute experience. #HackAlert: Mobile Passport App is free, has been even faster for me than Global Entry sometimes, it's my favorite thing to share with friends!

Step out of your comfort zone.

Wether you're traveling with a group or alone, the most important advice I can give you is this. Some of the most memorable travel experiences are when you go somewhere new (obviously) and when you do something a little different. Maybe it means staying at someone's home via AirBnb, or booking a guided tour of the historic center with a local, maybe you want to do something adventurous, maybe you just make it a goal to strike up a conversation with locals while riding public transportation. Just be flexible and open minded, and take it all in like a sponge. I'm personally a huge fan of journaling while traveling and use these travel-friendly notebooks to doodle in.

After writing this, I realized there's no way to consolidate what I've learned in anything less than an 100-page book of travel hacks. And I am the first to admit I am seriously overdue in sharing this information with you all. Would love to hear more about what sorts of travel topics you want to hear more about from me. Is it planning? Is it time management? Is it cutting costs? Packing? Things I take with me? City guides? Etc. Let me know in the comments below or send me a message on social.

Bon voyage, friends!

The Road to Becoming a Life Coach: Getting Started

Leading up to this announcement, I was struggling to find the right words to say and the right things to share about this life milestone. I am jittery with positive emotion as I wrap up my last class, but I have to reflect, with honesty, on the moments that led up to this.

The decision to go back to school of any type was one I battled with for more than a year. Did I have the time for it? Was it worth the financial investment? Was I going to be fulfilled in what I was learning? How would it apply and provide a benefit to my employers?

I was happy with my profession and inspired by leadership, but I was quickly losing passion. Days were slower, time was opening up and the projects I was a part of started to feel less challenging. Was I even making a difference in the world? As a manager and mentor, I always challenged people who shared these thoughts with me and repeated:

It’s important to find passion in everything you do. Be it behind a desk, on the front lines of a service project, you have to look for it. It’s there somewhere.

I knew it was up to me to find that passion again, so the hunt began. I first used Coursera to enroll in a few higher education classes to find out if certain educational paths were right for me. I took everything from a business administration to marketing class online as I tried a variety of potential higher education journeys. Still, I wasn’t satisfied. I didn’t quite agree with some of the things I was reading based on client experience and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach the cost of graduate school.

While at Florida State University, I completed the undergraduate program in Leadership Studies. All my experiences here were among the most memorable and fulfilling, including mentors like Dr. Osteen who changed the course of my life dramatically. Could I do something in this realm and what would that look like? And what about the perception others already had of me? My personal brand. Is there something I could do that was authentic to me and enhanced this?

Cue becoming a life coach.

Once I started doing my research on ICF-certified programs (that’s international recognition and certification) and meeting with advisers, I knew this was the path for me. Think about my online presence, even, I’ve made it my mission to help others find passion and become their best selves. That’s what this blog is about, that’s why mentorship is important to me, that’s my reason to believe.

I selected Erickson International because they offered flexible virtual classrooms - not online classes at your own pace, just a live digital presence you can fulfill from your home. They also put an emphasis on the art and science of coaching. Let’s be real: if I was investing money in this I wanted to make sure there was scientific and empirical data to support what I was learning. I also really enjoyed the community they built and felt it was right for me.

I signed up for the once a week, 6 a.m. local time course. I woke up gladly each Wednesday morning ready and eager to learn. But once I was in the rhythm of attending class, the next challenge was finding balance between my personal and professional life, and this new passion project. Remember those slow work days? They turned up about 100 notches as I began this journey.

There were days that I questioned if this was right for me. There were days that I didn’t sleep. There were days I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading material that fascinated me. There were days - three days in fact - where I happened to be on the West Coast or on an airplane during class time so that meant 3 a.m. classes or some from 10,000 feet. There were days I gleamed about life coaching to my friends. And there were days I really had to sit with myself and find a way to remind myself to commit.

Today I finish my last semester - or module as Erickson calls it. Along the way I’ve learned skills in listening, openness, asking the right questions, and truly understanding and believing that what we need is inside all of us. With the right guidance, we can tap into ourselves to find what we’re looking for. I am living a values-driven life, with passion. I understand the importance of having a vision, and I am creating one for myself and my coaching practice.

What’s next?

While I continue my learning, I have to host practice sessions in tandem with my courses. I have a list of friends and colleagues that will help me refine my skills over the next year or so. You’ll see more and more of my lessons reflected in my online presence and the way I live my day to day.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to become a life coach is also because I found a gap in these types of professionals and how they were speaking to millennials. Gone are the days that a life coach is only relevant to a c-suite executive or someone at their mid-life crisis. Everyone could use this level of professional guidance toward creating a vision and setting actionable steps to reach a goal. Once I am certified, I’ll bring an offering to this community through a lens that makes sense for my generation.

I also hope to use becoming a life coach to build out Marketable Millennial in a place where I can better hone in and focus on sharing these anticipated “life hacks” and “life lessons” by LC - from a place of more credibility. More blog topics and webinars (woops - am I revealing too much?) that come from this lens.

And I truly hope that you’ll join me along the journey. Ask questions, share topics you want me to write about, and let’s grow together.

Lissette Calveiro Life Coach 1
Lissette Calveiro Life Coach 2
Lissette Calveiro Life Coach 3