How to Stock Your New Kitchen for Under $100

composition of kitchen tools and vegetables on table in kitchenEquipping a kitchen isn’t cheap. Whether you’re getting your own place or you just want to start cooking more seriously at home, finding what you need is a daunting experience. The key is to buy multi-purpose kitchen tools. Not only will it help you save money, but it will reduce the clutter. Regardless of your budget, there is a way to stock your new kitchen without spending more than $100.

Buy Knives

You don’t need those fancy knife sets. To start cooking all you need is a basic chef’s knife — which will cost you less than $10. Sure, you could buy the professional-grade knife for $100, but save that for a splurge or ask for one as a gift — don’t break your budget on a single kitchen tool.

Get a Sauté Pan

Sauté pans are versatile in the kitchen. They can be used to pan-fry, make sauces, and of course, sauté. Pick a stainless steel variety and avoid any non-stick or Teflon finishes — these don’t last long. You’ll want a medium-size sauté pan so that you can use it for a variety of dishes. Getting one that is too small or too big will limit how often it can be used. You can get a quality sauté pan for about $20.

Stock Up on a Few Pots and Pans

You don’t need a big pot and pan set when you’re just starting out. A stockpot and a smaller pot to cook soups and sauces is all you need. Again, go with stainless steel varieties. They’re less expensive than non-stick and will last longer.You can get a stockpot and two to three small pans for about $20 to $30 if you shop around.


A cheese grater has a lot more to offer than just grating cheese. You can use it for potatoes, making wedges and even use it as a micro plane to zest fruits. Most cheese graters utilize all four sides with different sized graters — and they don’t even cost $8.

Cookie Sheet

You can’t do much baking if you don’t have a cookie sheet. A general, non-stick cookie sheet set (that comes with two pans) costs about $5. You can use them for cookies, baking potatoes or even roasting vegetables. If you want toast, skip buying the toaster. Put slices of bread on a baking sheet and place it under the broiler. You’ll have toast in just a few minutes and you won’t spend a time on a toaster.

Coffee Pot

Most people need their morning coffee. Luckily, you can get avery basic coffeemaker for under $20. You really don’t need all the bells and whistles with your coffeemaker — such as a timer, different brew varieties, etc. If you absolutely need the best, save up and buy one later on, but for now, a basic coffeemaker will get you by.

Cutting Board

You need at least two cutting boards — one for meat and one for everything else. Cutting boards, especially plastic ones, aren’t expensive. In fact, you can get two medium-sized cutting boards for about $5 to $10.

Apr 2014

Living on Your Own in Los Angeles? 5 Tips For Sticking to Your Budget

Young woman cleaning at home, she has a cleaning day and using aMoving out into your own apartment in Los Angeles is exciting. Whether you just got your own place or you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to have a big financial responsibility on your hands. Most people are unaware of the financial burden of living on their own, especially in a pricey area like LA. Regardless of how comfortable your budget is right now, there are some ways you can ruin your budget. These five tips will help you avoid those budget woes and stay on track each month.

Pay Bills Before They’re Due

Don’t be late if you can. Late fees can add up and really hurt your budget. If you find yourself paying bills past their due date, make a habit of setting bill reminders — or have the bills automatically deduct from your account. If you can, pay the bills a few days before they’re due to make sure your account is credited and everything is processed.

Pay More on Credit Cards When You Can

If you have a credit card balance, pay extra when you can. Interest can really eat up your payments — making your balance stay almost the same. If you have the extra funds, put them on your credit cards first. The faster you pay off your credit card debt the faster you can add those monthly payments back into your budget.

Just Say No to Credit Cards

Credit cards are just a bad idea all around. Even if you owned a home, you should avoid credit cards. With rising interest, fees and late payments, it is easy to get in over your head. Avoid using your credit cards. If you want to buy something but don’t have the cash, wait until you do. Then, leave the credit cards for emergencies only.

Always Be Prepared

You should always be prepared for an emergency. That means putting ample money into your savings just in case you get sick, have to miss a few days of work, etc. As the year goes on in your new apartment, you’re going to have costs. Perhaps you need to buy a new couch or maybe your car got a flat tire. By having money in your savings you can handle these expenses without eating nothing but ramen for the week.

Know When to Ask for Help

Everyone gets in over their head every now and then. If you notice you’re struggling to pay your bills or make rent, talk to your property manager. Some offer late payment forgiveness or may let you out of your lease due to financial hardship. Turn to family and friends when you’re in dire situations. The faster you tackle a financial problem — and keep it from turning into serious debt — the better for your credit score and financial future.

Apr 2014

Adding a Roommate? Tips for Interviewing Your New Roomie

Housemates relaxing together in their sitting roomIt doesn’t matter if you have known the person for years or you just met them, a roommate relationship is a big decision. You’ll live together, share expenses and both be responsible for the apartment. It is important to establish some ground rules with one another once you move in, but before you even pick out the new roomie you need to conduct an interview. These questions can help you avoid any hiccups with your roommate and even help you pick out the right roommate for you.

How Will the Bills be Split?

This is the most important question and should be figured out before anyone moves in. Discuss what your roommate’s share of the rent will be, but also include utilities. How do you want to receive payment? Will your roommate pay the property manager directly or write you a check for their half of the expenses?

What’s the Grocery Situation?

Some roommates keep groceries to themselves, while others share. If you are going to share, it is best to grocery shop together and set ground rules on the food — such as no guests eating the food you contributed toward.

How About Guests?

There’s nothing worse than a roommate’s boyfriend spending every night at your apartment. Discuss guest rules and set some ground rules about who can stay over and for how long.

Who Will Handle What Chores in the Apartment?

You don’t want to be stuck with all the cleaning — especially if you both have separate bathrooms. Set rules and discuss how the cleaning will work. Such as you cleaning the kitchen one week and the roommate the other. Also, establish rules for bathrooms and how often they should be clean. Because you have a security deposit on the apartment, you want to make sure you get it back.

What’s the Noise, Party and Alcohol/Smoking Policy?

Are you okay with a roommate that smokes or drinks? What if a roommate wants to have friends over until 11:00pm at night? Set some rules and discuss the noise, party and drinking/smoking policies. That way everyone is clear what can be done in the apartment, how late they can be noisy, etc.

A Few More Tips for Success

  • Don’t pick a roommate just because they are a friend. Sometimes friends are too irresponsible to handle moving in — and it could cause a rift in your friendship when you have to boot them out.
  • Ask your new roommate for proof of employment and make sure they can actually pay the rent. There is nothing worse than counting on a roommate’s help only to be stuck with the bills yourself.
  • Check with your apartment manager to see what the rules are about roommates. Some places require your roommate to be on the lease — which means applying and passing a credit check too.
Apr 2014

How Safe Is Your New Neighborhood? How You Can Check

neighborhood guard or crime watch stopping thief,  thieves alertIf you’re moving to a downtown metropolis like Los Angeles or San Diego, security is obviously going to be a concern. Where one block can be safe, a two minute walk puts you in a dangerous area. If you’re not living in a building with 24-hour security cameras or a doorman, you want to feel protected. Here are some ways you can see how safe the area is.


Ge ta feel for the area before you sign any lease. You can walk around the apartment complex for a few blocks and see how you feel. Your gut reaction often tells you more than anything else. So, do you feel safe? Do you feel like the neighborhood is right for you?

Talk to Neighbors

See what your neighbors have to say about the area. That includes people in adjoining buildings or those you just see walking by. If your neighbors aren’t very friendly, or they keep windows and doors shut all day long, that might be a sign you’re not in a friendly neighborhood.

Look for the Obvious Signs

If you see high amounts of graffiti, security grates on the windows or doors with triple locks, you might live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate.

Ask the Local Police Department

You can get local crime statistics from the local police department for your new neighborhood. They can tell you the number of arrests and types of crimes that are predominant there. If you see a lot of white collar crimes, you won’t have much to worry about. Also, crimes like failure to pay child support or alimony aren’t something that will impact your personal safety.

Watch the Local News

You can tell a lot about an area just by reading the paper, browsing news channels or looking online. See what is making the news for that area. Is there a crime everyday being reported on the news?

Use the Internet

The internet is a powerful tool. You can search by the address to see if there are any known drug dens, criminal activities, etc. Also, you can look up your new landlord to see if they are frequently found in housing court for any safety violations.


You should always feel safe – no matter where you live. Even if you cannot afford much, there are plenty of places throughout Los Angeles and other busy metropolis areas that have low crime rates and cheap rent. Do not let rent guide you – always make sure you feel safe wherever you choose to live.

Apr 2014

Time to Stock Your First Apartment Pantry

Closeup of a woman reaching into her pantry for a box of cereal.By having a fully-stocked pantry, you can save on groceries and save yourself the hassle of trying to get to the store while living in downtown L.A. If you have a roommate, take this list and see what you can go in on together to save even more money. By having a kitchen fully stocked, you’ll also save on eating out costs and always have something to snack on.

Get the Canned Essentials

Canned goods should always be in your pantry. These have a long shelf life and in some cases, can last indefinitely. Also, canned foods help you prepare a variety of dishes fast – which is good if you are always eating on the go.

Some canned goods that every apartment dweller should have in their pantry include:

  • Canned Beans – Black, Kidney, etc.
  • Canned Chicken, Vegetable or Beef Broth and Stock
  • Canned Vegetables – Tomatoes, Peas, Green Beans
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Canned Soup
  • Coconut Milk


If this is your first time moving out, you’re not going to have much in your spice rack. But, having the right spices on hand allow you to take a variety of ingredients and turn them into something delicious. While you don’t have to go out and buy every spice imaginable, there are a few spices you’ll want to stock up on first – and these are versatile enough to use in most dishes:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Crushed Red Chili Flakes
  • Oregano
  • Basic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice


Instead of buying everything already made, consider buying the ingredients you need in the baking aisle. For example, instead of making cookies already made (along with preservatives) you can make your own. Even if you aren’t into baking from scratch, there are items you should keep in your pantry for baking, including:

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Granulated White Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Instead Yeast
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Iodized Salt

Dried Goods

Dried goods are like canned goods; they last for a while. Fill up your pantry with some dried good essentials to help you prepare meals while you’re in a hurry or just to eat off of when you’re low on money for groceries. Some good dried staples to stock up your pantry with include:

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Mashed Potato Flakes
  • Oats – Rolled or Quick Cooking
  • Quinoa
  • Corn Meal

A Few Other Things to Consider

While these items aren’t a necessity, they do help round out your already well-stocked pantry. A few extra things you might want to include in your pantry stock-up are:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Other Flavored Extracts
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
Apr 2014