February 28, 2014

Laugh a Little

A dear friend recently introduced me to a fun (free!) activity that I'm excited to pass along.  

Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is a fantastic place to spend a Friday night, and one of my absolute favorite places to go in Capitol Hill is a little vegan/vegetarian restaurant called Jai Thai.  I'm sure the food is great, though I have never tried it.  No, what draws me in each weekend is the free comedy show.  Fabulously talented comics + a happy hour that starts at 10PM - what else could I ask for?

While you do have to pay for your drinks - obviously - the whole experience is extremely affordable and outrageously fun.  The whole cherry on top is that I get to support local artists and businesses.  True, I do not spend a ton of money here - usually less than $10 for the entire night's drinks.  However, there is another valuable currency in circulation at this particular venue: laughter.  And I have plenty of that!

A quick Google search is sure to direct you to a similar institution in your own town - try your luck!

February 18, 2014

Side Gigs in the Sky

I sit on my butt a lot. Sure - I work my full time job, and I work it well. But most nights, after the dinner festivities have finished, I spend my free time mindlessly internetting.  

What do I do while on the internet? Let's see... I shop, stress about needing a new car, obsess about looking up cars on Craigslist, freak out when we can't afford one we like, etc. So, I decided to get a side gig. The best part of this particular side gig is that I can do it from my trusty butt indention on the couch during the evenings and weekends.  

After some pretty extensive research, I applied to be a freelancer with Leapforce. This company provides search engine quality for the big guys like Google. Basically, I will be rating search results to help ensure the good stuff is getting pushed to the top of the list and the not-so-good stuff isn't. 

The application and interview process are entirely automated. I generally prefer to interact with as few human beings as possible, so this was great. After the usual application process, I took a (rather lengthy) three-part test. And that's it! Now I can make decent $$$ in my spare time and save up for that sweet new ride we need/want.

Do you also hate debt?  Then this sort of thing might be for you too! Whether the object of your heart's desire is a car, a house, or an organic vegetable - don't give up on saving first and buying second.  It's frustrating, but I believe in you! Look at it this way: if you are not crushed by the weight of debt, you are free to be an advocate for others and a participant in bigger issues than paying your bills. There is no better way to damn the man than to be free!

“When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.” - Noam Chomsky

Simple Does It

Don't let anyone make you think that the best gifts cost the most money. If there were a big bad holiday for that, other than Christmas, I think it would be Valentine's Day!  Diamonds, anyone?

My sweet hubby surprised me with a replica of my wedding bouquet this year. When I say that I was floored, I mean I cried. It is hands down one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts that I have ever received.  What a guy!  

Throw in a tasty bottle of wine and some chocolate covered strawberries, and this night was one we will remember forever.   

{Almost} Free Ways to Enjoy Winter

It's easy for this southern girl to come down with a bad case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder - not a misnomer) during the winter months in Seattle. I know, I know... the grey is haunting and beautiful and full of life. 

Still, it is as if my brain refuses to acknowledge what my makes my heart swell. No matter how many comforting mugs of tea I drink, no matter how many pauses I take to gaze onto the beautiful blue lakes in our neighborhood, my brain is screaming for the sun. I plead silently - "Do you not see the white capped volcano in the distance? Or the jagged peaks of the Olympics to the west? How are you not happy with all this jaw-dropping beauty around you?"  But alas - I still feel blue.

What's a girl on a budget to do? It isn't as if I can afford to drink all day long every single day. Just kidding. Still, my point remains.  It's tough to find things to do that 1) won't break the bank and 2) will actually lift my spirit.  

Over the holidays, I carefully poured my heart into decorating for Winter Solstice during my time off. Our trusty tree ($40 at Target) is holding up nicely, as are the fake snow and random collection of ornaments. One stop at Ross Dress for Less resulted in two Yankee holiday candles at $10 each, which is less than half of their retail price.

Voila! A cozy and festive home that helps me remember all of the things that inspire me this time of year.  Evergreens, snow, warm fire, and mementos from years past. Throw in a bottle of whiskey and some delightful holiday tunes, and even my brain has a hard time hating life.

Other festivities included a two hour twinkle light and holiday carols filled sailing on the lake with some of our dearest friends.  Many of the large companies in Seattle charge insane ticket prices for cruises during the holidays, but the Fremont Avenue sails at a fraction of the price: less than $20 per ticket. Light refreshments are included and there is no corkage fee for booze brought from home. Perfect! Going for a sail on this little boat is one of my very favorite things to do in Seattle, with unparalleled views from the water and a delightfully non-corporate atmosphere. It feels good to support small, local businesses with character! Fortunately, the boat sails year round with a famous Sunday Ice Cream Cruise that is heavenly.

There are always fun and frugal things to do if you are willing to talk to the locals in your town!