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Is a Financial Advisor Worth It?

counting pennies
By Christine H.

The average American pays over $8,000 per year simply in interest. That’s the amount that you’d be paying simply with a mortgage on a middle class house, one car payment, an average student loan burden, and one credit card with debt. Interest doesn’t do anything to pay off the principal (the amount you actually owe) and you don’t get any kind of return from it. In fact, it might just be the biggest waste of money possible (even worse than that second ab roller than you ordered and never used). If you’ve gotten into the habit of spreading out payments over a longer period of time, then it’s time for you to examine how much of your money is being sapped away with interest.

Sometimes It Takes Help to Get Out of the Pit

A budget and discipline, of course, are the keys to staying financially on top of things. However, for many of us, there’s more to it than that. Financial literacy isn’t taught in schools. It’s taught at home, which is one of the key reasons that children with wealthy parents grow up to be wealthy themselves. However, if you missed the lesson on finances, it’s still possible for you to change the story for yourself. Sometimes that takes extensive research, intense discipline, and some trial and error. Other times, it takes a financial advisor.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “Whoa wait… if I’m struggling with money, why should I hire someone who’ll just charge me more per hour?” It can be hard to know where to turn for trustworthy help, especially if you think that you can handle it yourself, with just a little more motivation or discipline. However, for many people struggling to get a handle on debt, a financial advisor is a good solution.

Think of it like this: much like a mental health counselor, a financial advisor can troubleshoot problems, shed light on things that are hard for you to understand, and use their training and connections to find solutions that you never would have thought of.

young couple looking at finances

Debt Elimination Techniques from a Financial Advisor

There are a few techniques that a financial advisor will use to help you eliminate debt… things that you probably wouldn’t be able to do yourself.

  • Renegotiating your expenses: When you sit down to do your budget yourself, you probably list “medical fees,” “student loan payments,” and “mortgage” as inflexible costs. However, a good financial advisor can take a closer look at those payments. Sometimes, refinancing a loan will get you a better interest rate, especially if you’ve been reliable in your payment history, or if the market has changed. Other costs that seem set in stone, like medical payments, are also negotiable. Insurance companies barter the rates down all the time, but few laymen realize that they can do that too.
  • Consolidating debt: Essentially, with this process, you take out one big loan to pay off all your other debts, and then you’re only making payments to one resource. This can lower your monthly payment because it streamlines the fees and base rates. However, it can also increase your risk and payments if it’s done improperly. A financial advisor can help you decide the best way to consolidate your debts and simplify your monthly payments.
  • Prioritizing payments: Is it better to put all of your money towards your car payment so that you can have that particular monkey off your back sooner… or to spread your payments around so that you’re slowly chiseling away at each one? This will depend on the risk associated with each debt, the interest rate, and how much it affects your credit. A financial advisor can help you sort through the risk and long-term cost of each debt so that you can have a wise plan going forward.
  • Goal-oriented budgeting: The most simple budget will simply be a matter of crunching numbers so that you can make ends meet. However, goal-oriented budgeting helps you to pay off debt in a practical amount of time, and save for the future. A financial advisor can help you find creative ways to earn and save, and give you a level of responsible accountability that makes you better at sticking to a plan.

elderly couple meeting with advisor

How Can You Pick a Good Advisor?

Trusting your money with someone who knows more about it than you do is a vulnerable move. It’s important to have a financial advisor that you trust, and who believes in being transparent and in working with you to find the best solution for your specific needs.

Afortus Financial offers financial services customized for the needs of every individual from any demographic. We believe that financial success is accessible for everyone, whatever their history or situation. Instead of pushing a cookie-cutter plan, we work closely with our clients to establish a relationship of trust and help families find solutions that give results.

To learn more, find us at afortus.com.

10 Foods that Will Give You More Energy

breakfast bowlIt seems that just about all of us could do with a few extra hours in the day to accomplish all of the things we’d like to, but seeing as that isn’t possible, a lot of us rely on things like coffee and energy drinks to get us through the day. Some, dangerously enough, even rely on “study drugs” to get things done. Ultimately, however, well balanced nutrition is the safest and surest way to enjoy sustained energy on a daily basis. Here is a look at ten foods that are proven to give you more energy for your every day.

Açai berries

The açai berry is an incredibly healthy berry found in the rainforests of the Amazon. According to this article, the açai berry will give you increased energy levels, not to mention help detox the body and promote weight loss when enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Açai berries are also rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and slow symptoms of aging (such as skin degradation and joint pain).

acai berries

Almonds

Studies have shown that people who exhibit low magnesium levels tire more quickly during exercise. The reason? Magnesium helps your body convert food into energy. Fortunately, almonds are rich in magnesium. So if you consider yourself an athlete in any way, shape, or form, almonds should be on the top of your daily snack list. Almonds also happen to be rich in B vitamins, which also play a role in converting food into energy.

Apples

Apples are rich in fiber and therefore take longer to digest. Ultimately, this means that they’ll offer you more sustained energy than many other fruits will.

Bananas

Bananas are rich in both carbs (fructose, glucose, and sucrose) and fiber, making them the perfect snack for a quick boost of energy. They also contain B vitamins and potassium, which promote sustained energy and muscle function. Pair some banana slices with peanut butter, which is rich in protein, for a snack that will keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal.

Brown rice

Brown rice happens to be rich in manganese, which helps your body produce energy from protein and carbs. Therefore, brown rice serves as a wonderful complement to all of the other carb and protein rich foods in your diet. It’s versatile, too—serve it warm with your favorite lean protein, or serve it cold with honey and fresh fruit for a sweeter treat.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are mighty when it comes to boosting energy. They contain a healthy ratio of protein, fat, and fiber that helps satisfy hunger and stabilize blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day. Toss a spoonful of chia seeds in your morning oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothie for an energy boost at the start of your day.

Nut butter

Whether you prefer peanut butter, almond butter, or some other type of nut butter, you can rest assured that just a small serving of your favorite nut butter will go a long way in helping you feel energized. Natural nut butters tend to be rich in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which together help stabilize blood sugar levels and help stave off hunger. Just be sure to avoid nut butters that contain added sugars.
bowl of popcorn

Oatmeal

Oats are especially rich in fiber and are also, of course, rich in carbs. This makes oatmeal an excellent snack or meal that will keep you energized for hours on end.

Popcorn

No, we’re not talking about movie theater style popcorn here—we’re talking about good old fashioned air popped popcorn. Air popped popcorn is a whole grain carb that also happens to be low in calories, making it an excellent snack alternative if you’re used to munching on chips or crackers. These whole grain carbs are rich in fiber, meaning they will stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling energized longer. Air popped popcorn is best seasoned with herbs and spices for maximum health benefits.

Quinoa

Speaking of grains that give you energy, quinoa is actually packed with more protein than any other grain. The folate, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese in quinoa also help contribute to long-lasting energy levels.

Personal Goals to Help Your Dating Life during College

man in loveWhile we’re in college, we’re concerned with finances and studies, but a large portion of our brain power is also occupied with dating. Dating can be an incredibly excruciating experience, if you let it be. For some reason, there seems to be an inherent awkwardness that everyone places on the act of dating. This is especially true in an era where dating has been greatly affected by the internet and convenience that digitization has placed on the dating scene. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to getting a better experience out of dating doesn’t start when you pick up your date. Instead, it starts with making a better you, so that you know that you are in the right position to be dating, in the first place. Here are some personal goals that will help your dating life…

Love yourself, first

The first thing that you need to do, before you can even think of having a fulfilling dating life, is learn the incredibly difficult skill of self love. This is an important part of many aspects of life (it’s a necessity that is taught and practiced in addiction recovery), but is especially crucial in the dating scene. After all, if you can’t truly love yourself, then how are you going to have the emotional maturity that is needed to foster a longer-term relationship? Think about the person that you want to be, and always be taking every little step that you can to make yourself a better person. Oftentimes, on this journey, the opportunities for dating will present themselves in a natural way. To start, though, practicing personal hygiene and living a little healthier is always a good first step.

 

Holding handsAssess your finances

If you want to start dating around and meeting new people, then it is important to make sure that your finances are relatively stable. This is a general responsibility, as you should work on getting your life under control before you think of sharing it with anyone else. This isn’t to say that dating has to be an expensive endeavor. After all, there are plenty of great, cheap date ideas out on the internet. However, if you find yourself at a financial low, then it might not be the time to open yourself up to the dating scene, and is probably better to tackle those issues, first. That being said, don’t procrastinate dating because you’re always thinking that you’ll be richer and more desireable in the future. Dating shouldn’t break the bank, and you shouldn’t bank on money to win over a partner, either.

Enjoy the act of dating, itself

One of the greatest contributors to the awkwardness that is placed upon dating is the toxic expectations that people come into a date with. Remember, you don’t need to find the love of your life on every date. This isn’t a do or die alone situation. Instead, learn to have an open mind and enjoy the date, inherently. After all, you’re getting to share a special evening with a certain individual. There are unique aspects to every person, and it can be incredibly fun getting to share your own eccentricities with another individual. Simply relax, let your personality shine through, and have fun on the date. Even if you don’t think that there is any romantic potential here, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a friend and have a good time.

Hands in heart shape

Don’t compare yourself to others

Oftentimes, many people feel like they are trapped in a cage of expectations, when it comes to the dating scene. There seems to be this uncontrollable urge to compare ourselves to everyone else. However, this is only going to highlight our insecurities, and get in the way of developing a true connection with any of our dates. Don’t let yourself get trapped in this cycle. Instead, work to be your own individual, and don’t waste time trying to compare yourself to anyone else.

Strive to do new things

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the classic dinner and a movie date, dating can be so much more fulfilling if you see it as an opportunity to be creative and try new things. Oftentimes, the best way to get to know a person is if you are both in the throes of adventure and trying something new. This also helps you find new interests, and gives you both the opportunity to have a great time!

Keeping Up Your Energy Levels during the Day

running low on batteryBy Alek S.

As a college student, you might find yourself struggling to find the energy to get everything you need to done. In addition, relying on late-night Red Bulls and being divided between a social life and our academic priorities can make it especially hard to stay awake through a particularly long class.

Developing strategies to keep your energy level up for an entire day can help you be alert, and can empower you to live a more fulfilling life. Here are some simple tips you can utilize to keep your energy levels high throughout the day…

Drink lots of water

When it comes to most health tips, the first thing you’re always going to read is to make sure that you’re drinking enough water. While this might seem like a cliche, it’s something that deserves to be repeated over and over again. Becoming dehydrated is a surefire way to put brakes on your energy levels throughout the day, and can lead to headaches and other health problems.

Drinking water helps people feel fresh, as well as more alert. On top of that, drinking lots of water helps your digestive system work properly, which means that you are processing your food into energy, quicker. To help you throughout the day, carry around a water bottle, or even a gallon of water, if you are doing particularly strenuous physical activity.

Utilize healthy ways to get caffeine

beautiful cup of matcha teaLots of people use caffeine as a method to get energized for the day. This is the reason why the quintessential cup of morning coffee is so prevalent for so many people around the world. However, you shouldn’t be entirely dependent on caffeine to get your boost. Drinking too much caffeine can also cause a degree of health problems, and can make a person jittery. Also, drinking too much caffeine at once will lead to a crash, which is counterproductive to our goals.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to find healthy ways to get caffeine, which can be very useful, if you don’t overuse it. Although there is nothing wrong with a cup of coffee, getting your caffeine through a drink with less caffeine means that you will get a steady balance of energy from the caffeine, without the harsh crashes that follow. Here’s an informative article about why many people are using matcha tea for this purpose.

Find fulfilling ways to be active

A healthy dose of physical activity every day isn’t going to make you more tired. It’s actually going to improve your energy levels by naturally creating endorphins that will make you feel more awake and alive. This doesn’t mean that you need to hit the gym for an hour every day (although you could do that, as well). There are plenty of ways to be active on your own terms.

Sometimes, simply finding ways to walk during your commute can be enough to give you more of a pep in your step. Taking up recreational physical activities, such as a team or individual sport, can also be a great way to get more physical activity into your schedule. If you find yourself needing a bit of a recharge time during the day, then hiking can also be a terrific way to reconnect with nature, and get the physical activity needed to keep you feeling charged up. Hiking is a recommended way to increase your physical and mental health, as shown in this useful article here.

Eat a sufficient amount of food

healthy breakfastFood is where all of us get the energy that we need to go through the day. As this article here shows, not getting enough food can cause your energy levels to crash throughout the day. Inconsistent eating habits can cause your metabolism to slow down, since your body is storing more of what you are eating, in a sort of starvation mode. This means that you’re burning through your energy more slowly, which can make you feel tired and lethargic. Even if you don’t have time to stop and enjoy a full meal in the middle of your day, keeping high-calorie snacks with you, such as nuts and fruits, can help you keep up your calorie count and stay motivated.

Tips for Projecting a Good Professional Image

Professional woman

By Alek S.

During college, we need to prepare ourselves to present a professional image. The way that we present ourselves and our businesses to other people is a crucial aspect of continued business and professional success. The way that we look to potential employers, partners, suppliers, distributors, and consumers can make the difference between whether or not a business has the potential to grow. For this reason, projecting a good business image is imperative for any professional, no matter whether you are corporate executives or a freelance artist doing commissions. Here are some tips for how to project a good business image…

Find out what kind of image you’d like to project

The first thing that you need to decide is what kind of image that you’d like to build for yourself. Essentially, every professional in today’s marketplace needs to recognize that they are, themselves, a brand (a major challenge for many people, but check out this helpful post about how to create a brand for yourself). This is especially true in an age where we are projected onto the platforms of social media. The image that you choose to project for yourself may on your particular specialty or industry. For example, a financial professional wants to really hone in on an image of stability and security, while someone in a more creative industry might need to demonstrate a bit more flair to generate interest.

Use fashion to your advantage

Business teamAlthough the fashion industry might not always be the perfect place to get ideas for business attire, it is important to recognize that the way you dress has a profound impact on the way that people view you. You should always look like you have at least a basic understanding of how to use fashion to look presentable, confident, and successful. By using your attire to project these traits, you will subconsciously leave a good first impression on people, who will associate you positively to business. Another important aspect of this is to make sure that you don’t look like you are behind the times. Even an older business person needs to dress like they are relevant to the time (here’s a helpful little guide to see if any of your fashion traits are aging you).

Use any means to control your business’ image

If you are representing an entire business, you need to recognize that it will be far more difficult to manage your business’ image in the public eye. However, the good news is that you should never be doing this by yourself. There are plenty of tools that small business owners can utilize to help improve their business’ public image. For example, marketing and advertising companies can be quite adept at managing public relations campaigns. Another important tool for this is a lawyer (something that every small business should have, according to this article), who can help you control your business’ copyright and control how your business is seen.

Don’t make communication errors through writing

Professional businessmanAlthough you need to manage your image in personal conversations, the truth is that most professionals are viewed in the online world, in today’s marketplace. This means that an ample amount of the tools that you can use to communicate with people are text-based. For this reason, it’s crucial to uphold good writing habits. Be a stickler for your grammar, as bad grammar can make you appear foolish and unprofessional. Always take the time to read through things that you post online, in order to check for errors and consider if this puts you in a positive light. Indeed, most businesses today admit to looking at potential hires on social media platforms, such as Facebook, which just amplifies the importance of good writing skills.

Attach your image with other successful parties

The world of public opinion is one that is built by associations. If we see businesses partner up with charities, or entertainment avenues that we enjoy, it will raise their standing, by association. However, if we see businesses partnering with entities that we dislike, their standing will fall, by association. For this reason, it is so important to use this phenomenon by attaching your name and image with other images of success. This is an age old adage of success: if you hang around people who fail, you will adopt their habits. But if you hang out with people who succeed, you will adopt successful habits!

The Biggest Threats to Your Business

Businessman with balloonBy Alek S.

One of the benefits of graduating debt-free is that it allows you the freedom to forge your own path, business-wise. If you decide to go into business for yourself, there will be plenty of things that you have to learn after college in order to stay ahead of the game.

Starting a business can be a nerve-wracking experience. Not only is your own livelihood at stake, so you must also worry about the futures and families of each of your employees, who could be left high and dry if your business goes bottom-up. However, without risk, there is no reward. The good news about this is that there are ways you can go about protecting your business, and ensuring that you build a foundation of stability to keep you and your employees away from risks. The first steps to doing this, though, are to actually address the concerns that could cause major damage to your business. Although this can vary, greatly, depending on your specific business and industry, here are some common existing threats to a small (or any) business…

Lack of security measures

One aspect of business that should be a major priority for every company is to protect itself from external threats, whether digital or physical. The solution to this is simple: protect your stuff. If your company utilizes tons of data, then it is super important to utilize cyber security to protect from nefarious threats that could expose information for you or your customers. Heck, even if your only digital asset is a company website, you should work to ensure that it is properly protected. At the same time, you need to make sure that your physical assets, such as your business’ location, or worksites that your business is using, are also secure by setting up security systems that protect your employees and your company’s valuables (you may also want to utilize security personnel, who can protect a wide variety of assets, as shown here).

Opportunities vs threats

Having a poor business image

This is a rather broad category, but a business’ image is the crux of how they will interact with consumers. Having this image become tainted is a huge existential threat that could cut a business off from consumers and, thus, its main stream of revenue. There are two major aspects of your business’ image. The first is your company’s public image, which is handled by PR and marketing. The second, though, is your business’ actual location. If your location is dirty or in disarray, it will lessen the image of your business and push away customers. For this reason, always strive to have a highly presentable business location. Also, absolutely never allow your location to become filthy, such as from poor work conditions, or even infested with pests (find a company like this one, if that ever happens).

Supply chain issues

Problems that arise with your company’s supply chain can put a serious dent in the overall revenue that the business is able to generate. As a company grows, it will need to find ways to manage a supply chain that grows with it, or else deal with transportation problems and inventory shortages. This can put a business on ice, if they are not careful. Many times, if businesses who grow quicker than their supply chain capabilities are able to adapt to, they will experience a major bottleneck that will deal a serious blow to their company’s image and income (this is a serious issue for service companies, as explained in this article here).

Turnover issues

A business is made up of people, at its heart. Having the right personnel at the right positions inside of a business can make the difference between mediocrity and success. However, one issue that can plague a company and generate nothing but failure is extreme turnover. No matter how excellent of employees a company has, unmanageable turnover cycles will put a business in a perpetual transition state. This can be highly expensive, due to training and other costs. On top of that, you will never get the efficiency or innovation that you need from your employees to truly grow.

Business worries

Poor data management

As a small business grows to the point where it becomes more of a midsize business, the data management that is required by the company will begin to increase to levels that will necessitate a new system. Data management problems can result in issues with customer information, and can make it difficult for your business to gain insights that may be necessary to make important decisions.

How to Dig Deep and Change Your Habits

Habits

By: Maurine Anderson

January is a time when many people are working on their New Year’s resolutions. Some of the resolutions we make are rather simple, but the majority of them require a serious change in our habits. A resolution to exercise, for example, will require you to make time in your daily routine for a workout at the gym. A resolution to eat better, meanwhile, will require you to change the way you’re used to grocery shopping, planning meals, and cooking meals.

Successful resolution keeping, then, calls for a change in habits. But how do you really dig deep and change your habits so that you can achieve your goals for good? Here are some essential tips for changing your habits so that you can truly keep your New Year’s resolutions this year.

Identify your habit’s root cause.

What habit, exactly, are you trying to break? Overeating? Compulsive online shopping? Skipping your daily gym workout? Try to determine the root cause of a bad habit before you try to break it.

Calendar close-upIf your resolution for the new year is to lose weight, for example, try to pinpoint what has kept you from losing weight in the past. If it’s a habit of overeating, think about what triggers your overeating in the first place. Is it stress? Boredom? A medical condition that needs to be addressed? After you pinpoint what is fueling a bad habit and address it, it will become much easier to turn the habit on its head.

Give it two months.

You’ve probably heard it said that if you commit to doing something for three weeks, it will thereafter be a habit. This idea comes from a 1960 book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who noticed that patients took an average of three weeks to grow accustomed to their new features. A 2009 study conducted in the U.K., however, found that people actually take an average of 66 days for their new habits to “solidify.” So if you aim to develop a new habit and feel that you aren’t quite there in three weeks, take heart—you just need to give it another month or so. On the plus side, maintaining your new habit will become easier the longer you work at keeping it.

Don’t get intimidated.

Many people approach changing a life habit with the mindset that they have to have this huge amount of willpower in order to make it happen. But if you think about it, developing a new habit is more about diligence and consistency than it is about willpower. Really, a new habit comes from making the same daily decision over and over again. You only ever need enough willpower to get through that decision each day.

Change your environment.

It’s incredible, the difference that changing your environment can make. As this article points out, sometimes relocating to an entirely new place is the best way to bring about a major change in your life. Relocating affords you the opportunity to create an entirely new routine from scratch. It’s not always practical to move, of course, but if it makes sense for you to do so in your particular situation, it might be worth considering if you’re setting major goals for yourself this year.

Keep a journal.

Writing in journalKeeping a journal is a great way to make changing your habits more tangible. The simple act of writing your goal down can help keep you focused on your goals while giving you something to look back on weeks and months down the road. Go back and read your goals and progress as often as you need to in order to stay motivated.

Talk to someone.

Talking to someone about wanting to change your habits is another way to strengthen your efforts. Tell someone about the habits you want to change so that they can help hold you accountable. Ask them to check in with you on your progress if you think that will help you. Or, if you know someone who has similar habits to your own that they would like to change, ask them to join you in your goals.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Videographer

If your big day is coming up, it’s understandable that you might be a little stressed. After all, every person would want their wedding day to be perfect; because who wouldn’t? However, despite the undeniable stress, it is important to keep a level head when it comes to making decisions about one of the most important ways that you will remember this day, forever: your videographer. A great wedding video will be an asset that you will always treasure, which is why it is so important to make sure you hire the right person for the job. After all, videos are everything nowadays (take a look at this article, for example). Here are some things to consider when hiring a wedding videographer…

Experience is often, but not always, better

When it comes to wedding videography, although there might be a schedule about how the day will go, so much of the true action happens in the moment. This is why an experienced wedding videographer can be such a huge asset, as they will often recognize these special moments before they happen, without asking you to repeat any of them. However, there can be a double edged sword with this, as an experienced wedding shooter will usually cost a pretty penny more. Along with that, they may have a very rigid process that they have developed over the years. Sometimes, a younger shooter will have a bit more creativity and spontaneity because they haven’t had the time to create a more cookie cutter technique.

Each videographer will have a distinct style

Christmas bridal bouquet. A beautiful bouquet of white flowers, cotton, and fir branchesA wedding video should convey who you and your spouse are as people, and should capture the special idiosyncrasies that make your pairing so special. To do this, you’ll need to understand that each videographer will have their own style that may or may not pair with this. Some videographers will create more of a documentary style that will simply try to show the day as it is, others will opt for a more cinematic reach that injects even more personality into what was already a wonderful day. Speak with a potential videographer about their specific style, and see if it jams with your vision.

Get the technical specs

Let’s make one thing very clear. You should not hire a videographer based on the equipment that they have. A 4K, HDR camera will not make a wedding video that captures the exuberant joy of your special day. A videographer who genuinely cares about making a great wedding video and telling your story, specifically, will always be able to shoot a better video on an iPhone than a poor, uncreative videographer will be able to shoot with $50,000 worth of equipment. However, you should still know what you are getting with your purchase, and get to know the specs that your video will be delivered in. After all, we’d rather our wedding videos not look grainy.

Get professionals who work well together

A bride holding a craft cake on a glass stand, wedding dress on the backgroundSometimes the best way to find a videographer is to ask other professionals that you’ve already hired for your wedding. Typically, a wedding photographer will have a shortlist of specific videographers that they respect and like to work with. This can be a great place to start looking for potential videographers. You don’t have to stop with the photographer, either. One of the benefits of hiring a DJ is that they will often have professionals whom they frequently see at weddings (here’s a list of some other benefits of hiring a DJ, if you’re thinking about one of those, as well)

Do you want to hear what is going on?

Although we call them wedding videos, it is just as important to think about what you want to be hearing in your wedding video this early in the process. Talk to any potential videographers about how they handle capturing audio during the wedding, and discuss if you want to hear what is going on as it is happening, or stick to visuals with a musical accompaniment. However, even if you decide to just go with music, it’s also important to discuss where this music comes from (will the videographer just take pre-existing music, or will music creation be part of the package), and what kind of music you’d like to hear in the final product.

15 Design Tips for Studio Apartments

Design tipBy: Maurine Anderson

Designing a studio apartment can be a special challenge because you essentially have just one room to work with, yet it needs to be versatile enough to cater to all of your everyday needs. The main room in a studio apartment, for example, might serve as bedroom, living room, and home office all in one. Are you considering moving into a studio apartment, or do you currently live in one? Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when designing your studio apartment.

Maximize light.

Maximizing light is probably the most effective way you can make your space appear larger. Let in as much natural light as possible, and when necessary, supplement overhead lighting with task lamps and standing lamps.

Use a simple color scheme.

As this article about decorating small spaces explains, a simple color scheme is best for your studio apartment because it will create a feeling of unity and cohesion—even as your space is segmented for different purposes. Light and airy colors are typically best for studios because they tend to make a space look larger.

Use pops of color sparingly.

A pop of color, such as an accent pillow or piece of wall art, will go a long way in a studio apartment. Add a few pops of color (but only a few) to your space to add some interest.

closetGo minimalist.

If you’ve never quite embraced the minimalist lifestyle, now is the time to start. Get rid of anything that you do not find useful or particularly beautiful, and try to embrace an attitude of wanting less. Doing so will make decorating and organizing your studio space a whole lot easier. Plus, your space is more likely to promote peace and healing, as this article explains.

Opt for multifunctional furniture.

Maybe your desk, for example, can double as a nightstand and vanity. Or, maybe your couch features built-in storage for blankets, movies, etc. You might even opt for a daybed which can easily transform into a seating area during the day.

Opt for larger furniture.

Similarly, lots of smaller furniture pieces scattered throughout your studio will make it appear cluttered. Instead, carefully select a few larger pieces that will perform multiple functions within the space.

Bedroom with a light beige tonesThink in terms of spaces, not rooms.

As you go about designing your studio space, you’ll want to think in terms of spaces, not rooms. You may not have a designated room to serve as your bedroom, but you can create a bedroom space within your studio that will feel almost as cozy as a bedroom.

Use your furniture to divide spaces.

How you position your furniture can really determine how the spaces within your studio are defined. You might, for example, set a wider bookshelf along the edge of your living room space to act as a living room “wall.” Or, you might position your desk up against the back of the couch to define the area behind the living room space as an office space. You might even pull your bed away from the wall and rotate it so that the head of the bed is positioned up against another piece of furniture (such as a sofa or dresser).

Use other creative room dividers.

Furniture isn’t the only thing you can use to divide your space into rooms. You can also use a freestanding room divider, curtains, or a glass room divider.

Use an area rug to set a space apart.

Want another easy way to set your bedroom or living room apart as a distinct space in your studio? Place a large area rug underneath your bed or living room area to define the space.

Decorate with mirrors.

Mirrors—especially two installed on opposing walls—will make your studio look larger.

Go upward with storage.

Because you can’t afford to waste space in your studio, it’s a good idea to go upward. You might, for example, install floating shelves above your TV for extra storage, or you might use two tall bookshelves to frame your deskspace and provide extra storage.

Use those commonly unused spaces.

On a similar note, you should always be seeking to use those spaces that commonly go unused in a home. The wall area above the bed, the space under a desk, the surface of a door—all of these areas offer valuable space for extra storage.

Install curtains near the ceiling.

To make your walls appear taller, install your curtains near the ceiling and make sure they are long enough to extend to the floor.

Decorate with the things you use.

To make your studio both practical and design conscious, try decorating with things you use instead of investing in extra wall art for your space. You might, for example, hang larger hats on the wall or display more decorative looking pantry items on kitchen shelving.