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A Free Concert On The Arts Quad...

Rjd2_2 What’s better than having a good concert come to your area (especially when your area is rural Upstate New York)?  A FREE concert coming to your area!  Last night marked the end of welcoming in new students to our school and featured a pretty big concert with RJD2 in our Arts Quad.  While some other good musical acts do come to Ithaca, the spacing between shows is usually pretty lengthy and the price tag high.  There's also the hassle of parking or taking a bus downtown to the venue where most shows happen. 

Speaking of high price tags on concerts, I went to the All Points West Music Festival this past summer, which is one of several multi-day festivals throughout the country that can cost you anywhere from $100 - $400 for a few days of music.  While the atmosphere and music are worth the money in my opinion, it's always painful for college-aged concertgoers to have to shell out that kind of money AND THEN get completely ripped off by festival food where a hamburger costs $9.00.  It's always a good idea for the savvy festival-goer to pack a lunch when going to any sort of festival, carnival, amusement park, sporting event etc. 

Back to RJD2 - the concert was pretty solid and weather perfect for a night outside with the History building as a backdrop.  There were a good mix of Cornell students, Ithaca College students, and maybe a few townies to spice things up.  Next on my concert calendar are Andrew Bird and Toubab Krewe in downtown Ithaca.  Unfortunately, these concerts are not of the free persuasion! 

Posted by Brian Macpherson at 09:53 AM on August 31, 2008 in College finances , Nightlife | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Market Fresh Morning

Farmers9 Today I went with Brian, Lindsay, our friends Alfonso and Clay and a few others to the Farmer’s Market expecting some great finds. It turns out the weather was foreshadowing the event.  Gray and cold, we ventured down through each station only to find that the prices were more expensive than our local Wegmans.  I’m all for fresh and organic but when you’re on a budget, sometimes you just can’t.  While I wouldn’t go there for serious grocery shopping, a trip every so often would be nice.  Perhaps I’m being too picky when it comes to the prices or maybe the weather just threw me off, but I did feel prices were pushed.  I have been told though that other Farmer’s Markets are known to have great buys.  Maybe try your local Farmer’s Market and see if you fare better than I did.  Brian did all right and was able to find pretty good deals for an eggplant, a cucumber, and a zucchini.
If anything it made a nice half-day trip with fun sights and smells.  Go look around, get lunch, sit by the waterside and listen to some homegrown music.  Nice, cheap entertainment for a Saturday morning.

Photo thanks to Lindsay.

Posted by Account Deleted at 01:57 PM on August 30, 2008 in Food , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (1)

Easy Dough

In the same vain as Ali's last post, I too have been messing around in the kitchen trying to eat well on a budget.  So far the four of us have almost completely avoided prepared foods (we'll ignore the frozen soy corn dogs in the freezer, AHEM, Lura).  One thing that really shocked me, as much as I've been hearing about it on the news, is the price of bread.  A loaf of Whole Wheat bread can cost anywhere from $3.50 - $4.50 from what I saw at the store. 

P8133546781118 From the perspective of a college student... I could buy at least one overpriced textbook for the same cost as 20 overpriced loaves of bread.  I suspect some college students eat enough grilled cheese sandwiches to go through about 20 loaves of bread a month. 

To remedy this problem, I have been baking my own bread with that breadmaker I snagged from my house.  Although baking it in a pan wouldn't be much harder, the breadmaker saves you the trouble of kneading the bread.  All that is required is to throw the ingredients (they probably cost no more than $0.30 - $0.50) in and hit a button.  In 4 hours out comes a hot, fresh loaf of bread! 

This website is great for recpies -

Posted by Brian Macpherson at 04:09 PM on August 29, 2008 in College finances , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (1)

Soup Du Jour

I have officially broken in the kitchen stove.  I strayed from cereal and ventured into a new territory (and I’m actually not that bad).  With my purchases from Aldi’s and some help from Wegmans, I managed to come up with an inexpensive meal that should last through the week.  Monotony may at times be bad, but in my case I have 24 hours in a day and 28 hours of stuff to do in that day, so monotony of food seems to satisfy.

Campbellsoupcan     Ingredients:
        1.    Vegetable Broth
        2.    Carrots
        3.    Potatoes
        4.    Tomatoes
        5.    Onions
        6.    Brown Rice    

Basically all you do is cook the brown rice in vegetable broth in one saucepan, in another chop up all the vegetables listed above and boil till softened in more vegetable broth.  When both are completed combine saucepans, stir, and simmer ingredients for a little bit.  Voila, soup of the day (week)!

If soup doesn’t satisfy try another classic, grilled cheese.  The good thing about it is it’s dirt cheap - try $0.45 according to the Cheap Eats blog 8.26.08 entry.  Anyway what could be better than soup and grilled cheese? It brings the comforts of home to school, and who doesn’t need that every once in a while. 

Leave a comment with any and all recipes for some money saving cuisine that can be made with the basics, it would be much appreciated.

Posted by Account Deleted at 07:40 PM on August 28, 2008 in College finances , Food , Savings | Permalink | Comments (4)

Don't Forget the Popcorn

Dr_strangelove_merkwurdichliebe Class starts tomorrow.  A mad rush has taken over campus to see friends, socialize, have cookouts with your "bros" and stir up trouble until the wee hours of the morning while sleeping until 2 p.m. is still a possibility.  While I have made a legitimate attempt to check many of these items off my list, I also saw the past few days as a good opportunity to go out to the movies, which is something I haven't done in a long time. 

The only problem with going to the movies these days is how expensive it's gotten.  A trip to a regular movie theater will probably set you back $10 - $20 depending on snacks, when you go, and any discount.  I think these rising prices have helped fuel illegal movie downloading (the MPAA would probably say the opposite, chicken or egg?) Regardless, there are ways to get out to the movies (legally) without breaking the bank.

-Go to matinees, they are generally a few dollars cheaper than going at night.
-Bring your student ID, most theaters give discounts to students
-Look for theaters in your area that show older or independent movies at a discount

We ended up going to a campus movie theater that shows older and independent movies.  We thought we were going to see the movie Delirious, but it turned out they were showing Dr. Strangelove.  It ended up being a great movie I had been meaning to see and it only cost $4.00!   We had a little snack beforehand, so we also were able to pass by the popcorn without being tempted. 

There are several movies coming up on their schedule that I would like to see, but I have a feeling they will be dropped down on my priorities list starting tomorrow.

Posted by Brian Macpherson at 05:23 PM on August 27, 2008 in College finances | Permalink | Comments (0)

The (not so) Dreadful Textbook List

Just like Brian, I called up my booklist online only to find that I had one textbook to buy.  It was a far cry from Brian’s $500 punch in the stomach - how much, you ask? $110.  And just because Brian would love to only pay $110 doesn’t mean I’m going to pay full price for mine.  At the Cornell Book Store they sell it used for $82.50, but I thought I could do better. 
Arch_book_2I took the online suggestions and the best deal I found for the book was on Amazon.  There is also a store in Ithaca called Kraftees that sells used textbooks and buys back books that the Cornell Store won’t at the end of each semester.  I checked there and their prices were way better than the Cornell Store, but Amazon still couldn’t be beat. 

        Final savings:  $110(Original Price) – $65.98(My Price)= $44.02

Huge savings on the original price, but I went further and saved an additional $16.52 on the Cornell Store used book price.  I’d say good bargain hunting to that.      

A good website is cheapesttextbooks.com - it shows all the prices on a certain textbook from most textbook websites and highlights the cheapest.  Also be sure to sell unwanted textbooks back to a bookstore, or better yet on amazon.com at the end of each semester to recoup most of your costs.

Posted by Account Deleted at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2008 in College finances , Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (0)

Let's Make a Steal

Img_1015 As we get settled into our new apartment, there are things that we forgot or couldn't get our hands on over the summer.  We ended up pulling together and communicating pretty well despite my initial concern, but we still were lacking a few pots, a storage rack for our cupboard, a fan for my room, kitchen utensils etc.  Normally I would head down to a thrift store or try to find a garage sale around the area and Ali would have probably suggested going to Ikea or Target, but there ended up being a solution that was better than all of these!

At the end of the year, boxes pop up all over campus with the words “Dump and Run” printed on the side.  While moving out of your dorm room or apartment, you can throw all of the things you don’t want anymore that you might normally throw away into these bins.  Then come fall, there is a big sale in one of the gyms on campus where they sell all of these items for less-than-garage-sale prices.  And there is a LOT of stuff to choose from.  There were probably 50 fans up for grabs, and I was a few hours late for the event. 

All in all we snagged a fan, a frying pan, a cupboard rack, a silverware organizer, a sauce pan, 30 hangers, baking sheets, a wisk, a desk lamp, a door mat, a coat hanger and a few other things for about $20!  A little rinse off for the kitchen items and we had a STEAL on our hands.  Proceeds from the sale even go to local charities for housing, a Children’s Center, and a Learning Partners program in Tompkins County. 

Posted by Brian Macpherson at 05:30 PM on August 25, 2008 in College finances | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thrifty Business

Desperately seeking clothes and have no money?  Don’t fret, there are many options. 

Produits2_4 Option 1: Flamingo Plaza in Hialeah, FL.  It’s a whole plaza of thrift stores.  If you want clothes for nothing, hit it up.  I bought a pair of polo jeans for two bucks, ripped the legs off and now have some summer-worthy shorts.  Not into searching through mounds of clothes for name brands? Try Plato’s Closet. It offers used clothing, but nothing’s older than 2006, and it’s all name brands.  While I haven’t purchased anything there, I wanted to earn some extra cash before I came to school.  I was able to get $5.60 for selling them two shirts.  This sort of plagued me the entire day, because I wasn’t sure the pay equaled the worth of the clothes, I got over it.  I plan on taking the rest of the clothes that didn’t meet their standards to Goodwill. You can get tax write-offs for these donations, so ask for a receipt. 

Here are a bunch of other places you can try in South Florida that where recently mentioned in The Miami Herald (never been, not sure of the pricing):

-The Fashionista Consignment Boutique, 3138 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove (305.443.4331)
-Douglas Gardens Thrift Store, 5713 NW 27th Ave., Miami (305.638.1900)
-Jezebel (contemporary and vintage), 1980 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954.761.7881)
-Divine Trash (vintage), 7244 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (305.751.1973)

Other places for bargain clothes? Try Target. Also any store that is having a clearance sale is a good place to start. Remember, though, don’t just buy for the mere fact that something is on sale. Only purchase items if you need them, or you think you’ll get great use out of them.  Do you know any other places that seem to have great deals? Do tell.   

Posted by Account Deleted at 09:03 PM on August 24, 2008 in Savings , Shopping , Thrift stores | Permalink | Comments (1)

We're Home (apartment) Owners (renters)!

Img_1037 Today marked the first full day of moving into and living in our new apartment.  Things have gone as smoothly as they can; there was only a small moment of bickering about living room decor (sorry Ali, 2-1 vote wins).  We did food shopping at Aldi, which wouldn't be our first choice for fresh produce, but was great for stocking up items like sugar, flour, vegetable oil etc. that are basic cooking ingredients.  For anybody that doesn't have one, Aldi is a no frills discount grocery store that has no bags, very few employees, and other cost-saving measures.

On the way home we stopped at a roadside farmer's stand and got what we thought were some good deals on fresh corn and early season apples (2 dollars each for a full bag of apples and half dozen ears of corn).  Maybe somebody with more shopping experience can let us know if these are actually good deals.

Also starting today was the founding of the "Libation Trust Fund".  If you leave a light on in a room that's not being used, $0.25 goes into the piggy bank.  Hopefully this will get us thinking about saving energy and will lower our electric bill.  I was the first culprit...

Posted by Brian Macpherson at 10:20 PM on August 23, 2008 in College finances | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Fees That Ate My Bank Account

    First thing I did, look at my bank accounts.  And do you know what I learned, BANKS LOVE FEES.  Lots and lots of fees.  Learn the rules of your bank accounts to save you from losing the precious bucks you worked so hard for.  Ever overdrawn an account, well depending on the bank they can charge you upwards of $35, and if you aren’t keeping track of your finances each additional week or even day your account is overdrawn slaps you full frontal in the face with, you guessed it, another fee.  Consider signing up for overdraft protection, it links your checking with your savings or a credit card giving the bank permission, if there are insufficient funds in your checking to pull them out of either your credit or savings, at my bank that saves me a $35 slap for each overdraft. But watch out, I still get charged $10 if the service is actually used, so just don’t overdraw your account. 
    Another thing I learned depending on the type of savings account you have there are a limited number of times you can withdraw from your savings account each statement period.  I called my bank to know exactly what rules where attached to my savings account.  Have one extra withdrawal and you get charged, it is usually only about one buckaroo, but you just lost any interest you made.  Anyways, some advice keep track of your accounts, it prevents you from being charged, and not to mention if you check it weekly, you can prevent identity theft. 
    When I first opened my saving account I only had to have a minimum balance of $100.  So when my bank changed the minimum balance to $300, do you think they contacted me, told me they where changing it?  Of course not, the only thing my bank did was charge me $5 for not having the minimum balance; my savings account was losing my money, not saving it.  Anyways, I called and asked what the charge was about, they then proceeded to tell me about the changes in min. balances.  THANKS… for nothing.  If you ever think a fee that was charged is unfair, don’t be afraid to call them up, sometimes you can get them to lower it or even eliminate it all together.

Posted by Account Deleted at 08:01 PM on August 22, 2008 in Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

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