Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Almost Free of Trump - Part 2

Women's March 2017
I was wrong back in October when I honestly believed that it was time to elect a female president of the United States.  Actually, the majority of voters agreed with me, but the Electoral College, which was designed precisely to prevent a dangerous egomaniac from assuming the office, failed to do its job.

So we are stuck with Donald Trump - at least until he does something so egregious that he is impeached.  Frankly, I don't know what that could be since we already know he doesn't pay taxes, sexually assaults women and hates immigrants.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Almost Free New York: 7 Ways to Save Big Bucks in 2017

Almost Free New York: 7 Ways to Save Big Bucks in 2017: 7 simple ways to save big bucks in 2017 Many of us have resigned ourselves to the fact that Donald Trump simply cannot keep his promise. ...

7 Ways to Save Big Bucks in 2017

7 simple ways to save big bucks in 2017

Many of us have resigned ourselves to the fact that Donald Trump simply cannot keep his promise. Unions are what made a thriving middle class in America and I suspect the death of unions is something Trump celebrates.  Automation is another inarguable fact that our President-elect does not acknowledge.  We grownups have learned that a problem must be named before it can be solved. We've strapped ourselves in because it's going to be a bumpy ride.  See you in D.C.

However, thanks to technology and good old-fashioned resourcefulness, there are a number of ways to save significant money in 2017 to partially offset the continuing war on the shrinking middle class.

1. Cut the cord 

How much money do you spend on your cable bill?  $150 per month? $250 per month??  When mine was approaching $300 per month (and I was moving) this former television producer  finally made the decision.  I was nervous, but more than 2 years later I can honestly say I do not miss anything and I have saved a serious bundle.
Mohu HD antenna

You will make an initial outlay of as little as $29.99 for a Roku to stream programs and $49 for an HD antenna (I bought mine from Mohu). Then I subscribed to Netflix (movies and original programming) for $7.99 per month, Hulu (almost everything one day after broadcast) for $7.99 per month, and later Sling (for sports and news)  at $19.99 per month. So after my initial investment of less than $100, my monthly "cable" bill is $33.97 per month! I "borrow" the codes for HBO and SHOWTIME from my cable paying parents (thanks, Mom & Dad).  HBO GO, which shows HBO content 1 day after it appears on HBO, allows up to 3 people to "share" codes. Ditto for SHOWTIME Anytime.  See my previous post Cut the Cable for more details.

2. ditch your old hard wired phone

Full diclosure:  I still pay $60 per month to TimeWarner, now Spectrum, for a hard-wired phone (and wireless service) because with my MS I (foolishly) believed I needed a FAX machine to deal with all the medical paperwork.  Over the holidays, my 26 year old son looked at me incredulously and said, "Mom, just scan it and email it." 
The phone only rings w/ robocalls and this week, I'll be happy to ditch it!  I'll let you know how Spectrum figures out a new way to overcharge, but by my calculations this should cut my bill in half.

3. change every light bulb to an LED
About a year ago, I made a bet w/ my Dad, who lives in a typical, suburban 3 bedroom house.  I replaced all of his light bulbs w/ LED or CFL bulbs for one month.  If his electrical bill wasn't reduced he wouldn't have to pay for the bulbs.

In 1 month, his electrical bill was reduced by almost $10!  Again, it requires an initial outlay to buy the bulbs, but they last forever and you will never have to replace another light bulb.  LED's/CFL's are costly, so I recommend waiting for a sale at target, taking careful inventory of what you need, and start saving big time.  For more tips, see my post Save Money, Save the Environment.

4. make every credit  card purchase with at least 2% cash back, preferably 5%

Many of you feel the way lots of credit cards change their rewards every quarter is a pain.  Fair enough, but if you don't want to do the little stickers every 3 months, just get yourself one of the 2% cashback cards. I have one from Citibank, and there are others, like Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature. Google 2% cash back credit cards. We're talking about potentially thousands of dollars a year! 

5.  bring your lunch to work once or twice a week

This is one of the good, old-fashioned resourcefulness tips.  When I was a child, my Mom used to make lunch for my Dad (who was in a union) to take to work every day. Going out to lunch is often social, and ordering in is certainly convenient, but this year why not try bringing a sandwich or yogurt and a piece of fruit for lunch a couple of times per week?  Pack it the night before while planning your outfit and maybe take a walk with your co-workers after lunch,  You will save money and be healthier!

6. call your insurance broker to find discounts on bundling, safe driving, taking teenagers off your policy, etc.

Insurance is especially competitive and especially if you have been w/ the same broker for years, it would be worth a friendly call to see if you can reduce your bill.  Raising your deductible is a classic money saving strategy, as is dropping collision coverage if your vehicle is more than 3 years old.  I get a discount from Travelers because I insure both my car and my apartment w/ this company.  Take a 1 day safe driving course for more discounts.
5% cashback

7. get an Amazon Store credit card

This is brand new and seriously recommended.  This year for the first time, I did all of my Christmas shopping online.  I realized that I bought almost everything online from Amazon.  With the Amazon Prime store card, you get 5% back on everything!  You can only use it on Amazon, but isn't that where most of us begin our shopping search?  OK, maybe Google first, but usually all online shopping roads lead to Amazon, so why not get 5% back on the bluetooth speaker you bought for your crazy uncle?

If you learned something useful in this blog please forward it to your friends, and if you sign up you can post a comment and I promise to reply!

Keep calm and carry on...Lori Bores

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

10 Almost Free things to do in New York during the holidays.

10 almost free things to do in New York during the Holidays

Honestly, I think many of us are still reeling from the US presidential election. In my other life as a successful AirBnB host, I was puzzled to have had no guests during November and I suspect it may be because the rest of the world is afraid of what we Americans have done. I am, too, but I remain an optimist.

As President Obama (and Annie) said, the sun will come out tomorrow...and as I say, there are still fantastic things to do for free in NYC!

Ice skating at Bryant Park - from October 29, 2016 to March 5, 2017, there is free ice skating in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan at 42nd Street.  Bring your own skates and the rink is free from 8am to 10pm daily. You will pay $20 to rent skates and $28 to skip the line ($35 online) but plan an "offpeak" weekday skate and the ice is yours!  Bring a lock for your stuff.  They are lighting their tree on December 2 this year.

Rock Center Tree - at Rockefeller Center the skating is not free but the Christmas Tree lighting is. This year, the gorgeous 94 foot Norway Spruce lights up on November 30th. Watching the event is free and the limited space will only accommodate those who come early. Pick a place at the Channel Gardens together with your family, friends and watch the star studded show. 

Window Shopping - my perennial favorite is the Lord & Taylor holiday windows but there are so many to choose from: Saks, Barney'sBloomingdale's, CartierBergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, etc.,etc. I challenge you to spend the day window shopping in NYC during the holidays and not finding your smile.  Bring a thermos of hot chocolate with you!

Trains @ Grand Central Station- you know about the big boy (and girl) trains, but during the holidays, NYC Transit Museum Gallery Annex sets up an impressive and free model train exhibit that is not to be missed!  This year, it runs from November 14 to February 2017.

Visit Santa @ MACY's - I have many fond memories of taking my children to see Santa when they were young, and I confess a certain nostalgia for the old-fashioned mechanical elves.  My then 4 year old son looked at me with a knowing look and said, "Those are pretend elves, Mom.  The REAL elves are making my toys!"

The exhibit is updated now, with a fantasy train ride and digital displays to determine who's naughty or nice.  The kids will be entertained to help them tolerate the long lines, but again, try to go offpeak - weekdays during school hours and early in the season.

Union Square Market - If you are looking for a seriously unique gift, for yourself or someone you love, you cannot do better than from one of the hundreds of small vendors and artisans that populate NYC's outdoor markets.  I don't know which I love more, but the one at Union Square is very popular.  There is also one at Bryant Park and at the edge of Central Park by Columbus Circle.  It's free to look and you might find something irresistible!

Chelsea Market - Brooklyn's Artists and Fleas independent designers have set up shop here, conveniently right at the lower edge of the Highline. the city's most popular (and free) tourist destination.

Finally, as we must't forget the reason for the season, explore your spiritual side with a visit to Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried, and to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  They will be decorated for Advent until December 25th, and in Christmas glory thereafter. Enjoy the season!

If you enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to a friend!

Keep calm and carry on...Lori Bores

Monday, October 10, 2016

Almost Free from Trump

Almost Free from Trump

After the last few days of appalling political brawling - and much needed comic relief  from Lin-Manuel Miranda on Saturday Night Live - I have reached the depressing conclusion that if you still hold the "anyone but Hillary" position in this scary election you are clearly and simply a misogynist.

Not that there is anything simple about misogyny.  Maybe Donald Trump hates his mother.  Maybe his two divorces didn't teach him that there are two people in a marriage.  Or maybe he is a spoiled, rich kid who is used to controlling everything he touches, including human beings.

Donald Trump disrespects women, plain and simple.  He is like a snotty 13 year old bully in a 70 year old man's body. He brags about sexually assaulting women because he is a celebrity.  Do we have amnesia about Bill Cosby?  Or is Trump somehow less despicable because he is white?

Trump uses women to make money with his beauty pageants, then degrades and verbally abuses them, not unlike a pimp. He brags in debates about the size of his penis and introduces young children to a whole new meaning of the word "pussy."  A master of subtlety he is not.

How many times did Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper have to tell Trump to stop interrupting or that his time was up?   Do we really want a President and Commander-in-Chief who cannot control his own mouth?  Can we trust such a volatile man with the nuclear codes?

To the Bernie fans, I say thank you for fighting the good fight and moving Hillary to the left: on college tuition, health care, taxes, etc.  Hillary heard you. This is how politics is supposed to work.  After your success, sitting out the election as a protest is a foolish and dangerous option.

The bottom line is one of these people will be the President of the United States.  How will you explain to your grandchildren that you didn't like either of the radically different candidates in 2016 so you took the coward's way out and didn't vote?

White, working class men are very angry.  I get it.  Unions, that created the middle class, the American Dream and really made this country great, have been all but destroyed.  Sadly, Donald Trump is not going to bring them back.  Quite the opposite.  Trump hasn't built anything since 1986, and the Trump "brand" is produced almost exclusively overseas in China, India, Bangladesh, wherever wages are low and workers are dirt poor.

If Hillary were a man, there would be no question about her solid qualifications for the job: experienced lawyer, 8 years in the White House, twice elected Senator, Secretary of State.  On the other hand, if  Trump were a woman,  he'd be dismissed as unqualified: a series of bankrupt businesses, a litigious braggart and no political experience,

It's an old story with a creepy new twist.  Women can do everything men can do, but like Ginger Rodgers, backwards and in heels.  Only this time, Donald's lead is downright dangerous.  And the dance is making us look foolish on the world's stage.

Female heads of state have been elected and serve all over the world: Great Britain, Germany, India, Israel, the Philippines, etc. It is clearly time for the United States.  It is clearly time for Hillary.

If you like this blog, please follow it, comment, and forward this to your friends...I promise to respond.

Keep calm and carry on...Lori A. Bores

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Almost Free Theater - 2

In response to a request from my Aunt Rosie, whose grandson is coming to NYC with his girlfriend, I think it's time to review the way to get off price theater tickets.  Broadway has been reinvigorated by Hamilton, and it's time for an update!

There are lots of ways to get lower priced tickets, but it will take some planning.  In no particular order, I recommend:

Playbill the theater magazine, which recently updated its list of lotteries, SRO's and student rush tix. Lotteries have become an increasingly fun way to get tickets for those of us who live in and around NYC.  Even though I was very lucky to see Hamilton with my son when it was still at the Public Theater, my mother and my boyfriend have not seen it so every morning I wake up, have my coffee (essential) and enter the daily lottery.

Most people know about the TKTS booth, operated by the Theater Development Fund, which sells day of tix at half price.
You must wait on line, but you are rewarded with a half price ticket on the day of the show. Booths are located in Manhattan in the Theater District, at the South Street Seaport, and in Brooklyn. *A new TKTS booth has just been added at Lincoln Center at the Atrium on 62nd Street.* Check the link to get hours of operation and remember the earlier you get there, the better your chance of getting the show you want.
While you are on the TKTS site, be sure to check if you qualify for TDF membership. You may be lucky enough to get deeply discounted tix with no lines and you can buy them in advance.  Here's a list of eligible people:
  • Full-time students (high school or above)
  • Full-time teachers (primary or junior high school faculty, high school faculty, university or college faculty, teachers of drama/dance/music)
  • Recent graduates (26 years of age and under)
  • Full-time union members
  • Retirees (no longer working and at least 62 years of age or older)
  • Full-time civil service employees
  • Full-time staff members of not-for-profit organizations
  • Full-time non-exempt employees (full-time hourly workers - 40 hours a week - who are eligible for overtime pay)
  • Full-time performing arts professionals
  • Members of the armed forces
  • Freelancers
  • Full-time clergy
An annual membership fee of $34 gets you tix to Broadway, Concerts, dance events, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway for $9 - $47.  I've been a member for more than 30 years and I've seen amazing performances.  Check out my last blog Almost Free Theater (August 3, 2015) for more theater tips!

I'm looking for your favorite money saving ideas! Sign up to receive this blog by email or follow me so I know how to reach you.

Keep calm and carry on....Lori