July 2018 Money Diary: Choreographing Our Move Out of L.A. (to Save Time and Money)
July 2018 Budget Summary
$3,148 spent in July (vs. $2,800 budget)
Ran over-budget this month by $348 because of a Portland wedding. We broke down these expenses in our post about the 5 reasons why travel is expensive.
$4,712 in monthly savings in July
Round the world trip savings: $40,286 (out of $40,000 goal)
Choreographing Our Move Out of Los Angeles
Ivan and Jennie here.
Moving sucks. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the spectrum: from helpless hoarder to smug minimalist. It’s like boiling a frog in 100 degree water versus 200 degree water. One pot may be twice as hot, but either way, that frog’s been cooked.
While you can never completely remove the stress that comes with a move, there are ways to save time and money if you plan months in advance. Considering that we’ve moved to several different cities/states/countries over the past decade, this is one area where we’d consider ourselves experts.
Jennie’s Note: Just FYI, even though everything was 100% on timeline and under control - I will tell you that Ivan did not keep his cool in the moving process. He was still super stressed during the last week.
Ivan’s Note: Like I said, boiled frogs. And since Jennie likes to complain that I never provide enough details in our money diaries, I’m going to overcompensate in this post by giving a full play-by-play account of our move:
Timeline: How We Saved Time and Money Planning Our Move from Los Angeles
1. T-minus 60-90 days: how we settled on a move-out date
IVAN: There’s never a perfect time to move. Chances are, you’re going to procrastinate until the last minute. Some landlords make it easy by having a renewal clause built into the rental agreement. You either have to renew the lease for another year or move out.
In our case, our lease defaulted to month-to-month after the first year. Not sure how it works elsewhere, but this seems to be standard practice in Los Angeles. This worked out perfectly for transients like us who were never planning on staying long term, but less so for low-income families fighting gentrification (and the lack of character, imagination, and community that, for some reason, always seems to follow wealth and luxury).
Three months before the move, Jennie and I were sitting down to breakfast at Donuts USA, yellow notepad and pen in hand, as we made a list of all the dependencies that were keeping us in the city (and our apartment). One thing was for sure: we had no emotional ties to Southern California.
Our single biggest dependency was negotiating Jennie’s exit from her job (yes, it’s possible to negotiate your exit. A long overdue Jennie post is in the works).
The main thing we had to consider before moving:
What was the earliest we could leave LA before our September round-the-world departure date without:
Messing up Jennie’s negotiating leverage.
Being an undue burden on Jennie’s family in Albuquerque, who graciously offered to take us in.
In the end, we landed on August 1st, or one month before our September departure. We gave our landlord three months’ notice as a goodwill gesture.
- Time saved from Los Angeles: a whole month of August - or 31 days.
- Money saved in August: $1,425 in rent + $65 in internet + $15 in electricity = $1,515
2. T-minus 60 days: created a moving checklist
JENNIE: Shoutout to any Trello users out there! Because I’m a type A planning freak, I wanted to have a spreadsheet or trackable task list that Ivan and I both had access to (see image above). I didn’t want any excuses about how he “didn’t know” that we were supposed to do specific things. Although Ivan gets annoyed with my constant “let’s create a spreadsheet” or “let’s create a plan” suggestions - it ultimately helped decrease a ton of stress and work by the end of our move-out date.
Time spent wondering whether we forgot anything. Or realizing after the fact that we forgot to cancel the electricity or the internet.
3. T-minus 45 - 16 days: sold our personal and bulky furniture items for extra cash
IVAN: Since we’ll be living out of our 40L backpacks for the next couple of years, this meant purging everything.
We buy furniture with the two year resale value in mind. Since we only own five articles, it’s not a huge list to keep track of. This means understanding the prevailing styles and trends and sticking to that scheme when we make furniture purchases. Jennie has an eye for this. In Boston, Jennie purchased a blue velvet couch from Walmart that came to about $400 after taxes and shipping but somehow, she managed to sell the damn thing for $250 when we moved out of Boston two years later.
Sold $160 worth of goods on Craigslist.
Sold $80 worth of books at The Last Bookstore in July.
Jennie’s pièce de résistance: Bought a Macbook Air back in 2014 for $600 (with friend’s student discount + tax free weekend) and was offered a $370 gift card from Bestbuy in 2018. Realized when we got home that the employee thought our Macbook Air was the latest version. Since we didn’t mislead anybody, we’re taking this as a bank error in our favor.
Jennie’s Note: We’ve been on a lucky streak this past year, and it’s making Ivan extremely paranoid. For starters, we got the Southwest Companion Pass offer this year, which was only available to California residents - just as we were planning on doing a lot of domestic travel. Then we got $400 worth of free Airbnb credits through this now expired offer - a couple months before we go on our RTW trip. And in June, when I treated my whole family to an expensive meal in Albuquerque, I found out afterwards that the employee had actually refunded me that amount on my credit card statement. If you believe in karma, it looks like Ivan and I are going to be pretty screwed in 2019.
4. T-minus 15 days: deep cleaning the apartment
JENNIE: Essentially, Ivan was a huge pain in the ass for weeks about “deep cleaning” our apartment.
Here are a few useful tips we have for you:
Not-so-white walls: Combine warm water, baking soda, and vinegar to create a paste that will quickly clean white walls as well as brighten it.
A greasy stove top: Okay, so Ivan and I aren’t great about cleaning our gas-fueled stove top...so grease definitely built up. In this instance, we sprayed everything down with an all-purpose cleaning solution and scrubbed; when that didn’t work, we used the back of a spoon to scrape off remaining greasy residue.
Heavy duty mounting tape on your walls: I had double sided mounting tape on our wall for months for our “inspiration” wall and our maps....and just never bothered to take them down. We took my hair dryer to the tape and melted it and it quickly came off the walls. Total lifesaver.
Securing our $2,098 one and a half month security deposit. At least we hope so - we haven’t heard back from our property manager yet.
5. T-minus 10 days: held a goodbye party at a friend’s
JENNIE: By now, all of our furniture except for our mattress is sold, the floors and walls of our apartment are fairly spotless. And we were onto more meta things: saying goodbye to friends and Jennie quitting her job.
Against Ivan’s will, I set up a “goodbye BBQ” party and invited all of his old high school friends that we were close to. And believe it or not, people came in from San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, etc. We were grateful several of them could come out and spend time with us. Although Ivan doesn’t say it often, we value all the friendships and relationships I’ve maintained over the last two and a half years in California.
We’ve had several great trips and memories from our time in SoCal:
Christmas in Death Valley National Park.
Thanksgiving in Joshua Tree.
For Ivan, he uses too few words to express his gratitude for his friends. Eating BBQ and watching some dorky high school films that they wrote/directed/edited over a decade earlier was another way to say thanks for hanging out with us and that we valued our friendships.
Well, we put in a lot of effort here into planning the little shindig, but it was worth the investment to spend time with some of our good friends.
6. T-minus 7 days: donated the remaining unsold (but useful) items and saying Goodbye to Los Angeles
IVAN: Jennie scheduled the mattress for pickup three days before we officially moved out. Fortunately, L.A. has some great city services for bulk item pickup and recycling. For our 72 hours in LA, we slept on a mattress topper and a yoga mat we purchased from the Japanese dollar store Daiso.
Before her last day of work, Jennie also dropped off our rental internet router and I spent the remainder of the day getting rid of and donating any final knick knacks left in the apartment.
On the last day in our sad and empty L.A. aprtment, we took our remaining chairs and set them up outside of our community hallway and balcony. We ordered takeout, listened to Twin Peaks: The Return OST (this series still haunts me), and chatted at length while we watched our last sunset in L.A.
Fortunately, we had paid rent through the end of July and were able to stay at our apartment until August 1st - without paying extra.
In summary: we've left Los Angeles and we're moving on
And there you have it - our long goodbye to Los Angeles with tangible savings in time and money over the past three months. Now, we’re onto the next chapter in our lives.
We don’t plan on looking back anytime soon.