Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Unique Concert Experience

Many cities offer a plethora of music experiences on the cheap, including jazz in the parks and local band gigs. But if you are looking for something a little different, consider attending an exhibition by a drum and bugle corps or going to a high school marching band competition.

These experiences are highly entertaining. And the tickets are going to be a lot cheaper than attending the concert of a major act.

Drum Corps International's site offers the schedule of events. Many of these will have seperate websites to purchase tickets to local events. These tickets may range from $10 up to $35 per person depending on the event.

Illinois Marching Online has a comprehensive schedule of events with links to the corresponding websites. So does Marching.com. Depending on the event, tickets will probably range from $10 up to over $100. I'd say that anything that costs over $20 per ticket, save your money. But many of the local events will be cheaper, so this makes it totally feasible.

Also, try googling "marching band competitions" or "marching band championships" with your state to find out more information about events in your locale.

These exhibitions and competitions will be a great addition to your cheap entertainment repertoire. And something that is great to expose your children to.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Movies on the cheap

So, I am one of those people who loves-loves-loves going to the movies. The smell of popcorn, the fading of the lights as the trailers start, the amplified sounds of the digital surround. All these things are a part of the experience that makes one wonder what could be better.

I don't know the theater chains in everyone's location, but I do know of some things around here that can help the movie-phile. It might also give others something to look into in the theater chains in their locations.

Marcus Theatres is a pretty big chain, so if you have one near you, consider this: every Wednesday and Thursday, they have what's called Spotlight Movies. Sign up to their club, and you'll receive coupons via email for four films. Bring your friends along! All of you can get into any of the four for only $5 each, whether matinee or evening shows. Marcus also has $2 Tuesdays - get $2 popcorn or soft drinks. And they also have the Kids Rule Summer Films series - only $3 and includes popcorn.

AMC Theatres has A.M. Cinema on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Any film before noon is only $5. This is good because around here, even the matinees are $7.50. They do have a summer movie camp for kids too, and concession discounts.

The budget cinemas around here have $1 Tuesdays. Look into those around you. Not first run, but these usually haven't reached DVD yet.

Most theaters will have pretty good senior discounts. Some theaters offer special discounted weekdays, especially during the school year.

Even with the rising prices, movie-going is still one of the best and most economical entertainment choices. Admittedly most people know this, but not everyone looks into the added values and discount choices available to them.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


So, I'd heard of this before, but I myself have never done this. I have another source of frugal travel. Still, the idea intrigues me, and the internet has made this more possible than ever.

I read about couchsurfing in a blogpost about green traveling. I guess I hadn't really thought of it in that light, but I thought that some people may find this concept right up their alley.

Forget about paying for hotels. Couchsurfing is sleeping on someone's couch. You get to travel and sightsee and surf and do all those things you wanted to do, while spending your nights sleeping on someone's couch. This also makes it a good way to meet people and learn about a place from the locals. The website is also very concerned about safety. There is a verification and vouching system that they utilize, as well as giving advice to travelers and hosts.

Interested? Click here to check the website.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Surveys for free magazines

I joined e-Rewards a while ago on the promise of receiving freebies (why else do some surveys?). They don't have a lot of magazines subscriptions, nor a lot of rewards, but it's worth it for the selection they do have.

I'm currently getting Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, and Paste. They also have rewards in a variety of other categories including: movies (get free Blockbuster rentals), food and dining (mainly zagat.com memberships and Omaha Steaks), and gifts (get $25 off FTD.com).

Worth the small amount of effort every once in a while. The e-rewards bucks add up quick, and then you can redeem them for the prize you want.

By the way, if you get a Paste magazine subscription, every issue they give you a
sampler of free new music. A great way to keep up with the new stuff.

Sign up for your e-Rewards account here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

So, we were up in the Twin Cities a couple weekends ago, and we took in Como Zoo, mainly because it's free.

I have to note some hints for taking this place in and keeping it cheap.

  1. The conservatory and zoo itself are free - Como Town and the carousel aren't. The carousel is only $1.50 per ticket, unless you are there during one of their free days (there are only five this year). For more info on the prices of tickets and activities at Como Town, click here.
  2. Feel free to pay the donation of $2 per adult and $1 per child - not required, but still relatively cheap for a neat recreational activity.
  3. Bring your own food! I cannot stress this enough. We blew any budget in the cafeteria. For a veggie sandwich and icee I paid over $9! And then we saw these slick families dragging around coolers. These were not for show. Save money and bring your own food and water. Especially if you're there on a hot day like we were. (Granted, paying that much for a meal is helping to keep the zoo cheap, but if you're rocking a tight budget, bring your own food. If you do decide to get a water or soda from one of the vendors throughout the zoo, you'll pay about $2.50 a bottle.)
  4. Consider going during the week and not on major school vacations. Granted, we went on a Saturday at the start of the summer break. It wasn't overly crowded, but everyone had their kids along, so there was a lot of crying and whining. Most families won't mind this, but singles and older adults might want to try an alternate time to go.
To see more details on the park, zoo, or conservatory, click here.

"Your Birthday Coupon has arrived"

Last week was my birthday, and last year, I had the foresight to sign up for all these eClubs from various restaurant chains that operate in the area. Doing so was of huge benefit to me for about two weeks because I got plenty of free food in.

Some of the information on what restaurants do this I got from other blogs last year, but if you have some time, consider going to the website of whatever restaurants (including fast food) that you frequent, and chances are, most of them will have some kind of club that sends you emails with coupons. If they ask for your birth date, don't hesitate because this will pay off about a week before your happy day.

I managed to get a free burger from Red Robin, a free coffee drink from Caribou Coffee, a free bowl of noodles from Noodles & Co., a free like-it size creation from Cold Stone Creamery, and a free dessert from Fazoli's. And those are just the ones I had time for. Be sure to read the fine print. Some of the coupons will require you purchase another of the same item (or entree) of the same or lesser value. Not all though. There was nothing nicer than going to Noodles for a quick bowl and not even having to pay tax. How cool is that?

Another free thing for you ladies is that Sephora offers a free lip gloss.

Some of these also give away anniversary coupons in honor of being members each year. I didn't know this until this year, so you'll get even more free stuff (or buy one get one free stuff).

If you know of any other free birthday giveaways, please let me know.

*Please note: there may be age restrictions (must be 13 or 18 or 21), so be sure to read all of the details.

Here's the list (click on the names to be taken to the websites):

Sephora - click on "Sign up for Sephora" at the very top of the page - free lip gloss

AMC Movie Watcher - sign up to the Movie Watcher club and get a free large soft drink for your birthday

Baskin-Robbins - one free scoop

Fazoli's - free dessert

Schlotzsky's Bun & Fun eClub - free small sandwich

Noodles & Co - sign up for the Noodlegrams and get a free dish of noodles for your birthday

Old Country Buffet - get a buy one get one free meal

Culver's - get culverized with a free sundae

Qdoba - buy one get one burrito

Maggiano's Little Italy - get $10 off your meal

Cold Stone Creamery - free "like-it" size creation

Uno Chicago Grill - get $10 off your meal of $25 or more

Caribou Coffee - free drink (any kind, any size)
ON your birthday, they send other coupons too - sign up for an account

Buffalo Wild Wings - get a free dessert - choose from Chocolate Fudge Cake, Deep-dish Apple Pie, or New York Style Cheesecake

Red Robin - free gourmet burger, and remember they come with bottomless steak fries!

Buca di Beppo
- free dessert - you can add your wedding anniversary date too!

Atlanta Bread Company - free cookie

Arby's - free swirl shake with any roastburger

Most of these offer other coupons throughout the year too. I especially like Caribou Coffee because they let you know when they're running certain promotions and giveaway free drinks.

Know of any other birthday eClubs? Let me know.

Get your "read" on!

Look, I like to read very much, but I'm the first to admit that I've gotten a bit lazy with it in the last few years.

Now I (and the rest of you slouches, you know who you are) don't have an excuse, because you can download books for free onto your computer (or other device if you like).

* A word of warning, I downloaded the eReader and was not overly thrilled when I couldn't seem to download the books from the website. If you figure this out, let me know. However, I did find a handy-dandy site that offers all free books and gives them to you either in PDF or Mobipocket formats. This site is www.free-ebooks.net. When I saw this I was kicking myself. All that annoyance for nothing. If you don't have an Adobe Reader to read in PDF form, click here.

Now, don't expect to get all the new releases. But for the money (and this is
free), it's worth it. There are a lot of classics on there that I wasn't forced to read in high school or college, so this makes it worth the effort.

Also consider Planet PDF, Project Gutenberg and Scribd. Scribd isn't all free, but you can access excepts.

You may miss the feel and smell of the books, but it's not like you'll never buy another book or check out at another library. These are just another free way to expand your horizons.


Get Free e-Books!


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