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The Bare Necessities
You're a twentysomething fresh out of college. You've landed a job, and the world is your oyster. Tonight, you're spending your first night in your new apartment. Or perhaps you're newly single and suddenly striking out on your own for the first time in years. For example, you lose your electricity, and suddenly, it hits you that you should have purchased a reliable flashlight. Take some time to assemble a home "first aid kit," for lack of a better term. This kit will be your compilation of necessities. The average first-time homeowner/renter never considers their importance until they're needed desperately -- and right away.
As mentioned above, you'll need to get yourself a good flashlight, and stock up on batteries while you're at it. Keep it in your nightstand drawer or under your bed, where you can reach it easily in the event of a power failure. You've probably experienced an incident similar to the one I did when, in the middle of a power loss during an electrical storm, I made my way to the front door of the house ... forgetting the presence of a baby gate keeping a new and yet-to-be-housetrained puppy confined in the kitchen. I flew over the baby gate and landed on the living room rug, clutching a skinned knee that I couldn't see in the pitch-black darkness. I had a good laugh about it later -- on my way to the hardware store for a good flashlight.
You'll also need a few tools. No, you don't have to be Bob Vila or Tim Allen. Everyone's got to have a few basic tools that believe it or not, will come in handy. You may consider purchasing a cordless power screwdriver for your little fix-its around the house. These screwdrivers, which usually allow you to use either a Philips or flat-head screw, give you the option of inserting batteries or charging them in a unit on your wall. They're easy enough for even the most novice do-it-yourselfer, and most of them give you the flexibility of using screws, nuts and bolts of all sizes (for sale separately) and snapping them in and out of the screwdriver as needed.
A hammer and nails are a must. You can't use push pins forever; they're not particularly attractive, as they often cause your pictures to tilt, and they won't hold heavy pictures on your wall (not longer than a few minutes, anyway). You can purchase a small hammer at your local hardware store or even your favorite grocery store. You'll use it more times than you think.
Another indispensable: a utility knife with a reversible, retractable blade. The reversible blade allows you to have a new blade when one side becomes dull, and the retractable blade is an imperative safety feature. Utility knives come in handy for everything -- from cutting carpet and vinyl floors to opening boxes.
You'd be wise to purchase either a glue gun or "super glue," which is sold under a myriad of brand names, none of them necessarily more effective than another. Homes contain countless opportunities for glue; the door on your bathroom medicine cabinet, for example, contains a magnet that, when it falls off (and it will), you'll have to glue back on. A simple dab of industrial strength glue will hold you. A staple gun is also a good investment for quick household repairs (for example, stapling the edge of carpeting to the floor).
A sewing kit is another must. Oh sure, you say you don't sew; nor do you have the desire to learn. You'll just take it to the tailor, you say. If you do, you're likely to spend far more than necessary. Learn to sew a button. It's not difficult. Keep a basic sewing kit -- needle and few colors of thread, in addition to a good pair of scissors -- in a drawer where you can locate it in a pinch.
How many home appliances you'll need depends on how domestic you are, of course. So you may not need a pasta machine, bread maker or juicer. How about an iron? First-time apartment-renters straight out of college often forget about this one. Do yourself a favor, and purchase a full-sized ironing board, too. No need to keep using your dorm-sized, table-top ironing board. Purchase a coffee pot, too -- even if you're convinced you'll never drink the stuff. First of all, you probably will if this is your first brush with the working world; and second, you're likely to be entertaining guests who do drink coffee. (You'll score extra points with them if you purchase a bean-grinder and use it in their presence.)
A cordless phone (and a cellular phone, for that matter) is a good investment in your safety. Take it with you to bed each night, and place it next to you on your bedside table or underneath the bed. If you're a deep sleeper, this is particularly important in the event that someone is trying to reach you in an emergency.
Also make sure you have reliable smoke alarms -- at least two of tehm -- with fresh batteries. Change the batteries on a regular schedule so that you won't forget. You might consider buying a fire extinguisher, as well.
You're bound to discover a long list of other indispensables along the way as you settle into your new digs. And while some of us are happy with the basics, just as many of us high-maintenance types will require a long list of "necessities." The above-mentioned items come in handy regardless of your degree of handiness. As you settle into your routine, you'll quickly discover which extras you'll need above and beyond the basics.
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