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Don't forget...

Name bar Saturday is when you can get free financial planning advice in Miami. Here are the details.

Posted by Nirvi Shah at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2010 in Banking , Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Museum Membership

Ali Bar

Not sure how many people know about this, but if you are an avid museum visitor, this will be pure bliss. It’s a year’s membership that allows entrance to tons of museums across the country. For students, it’s $35 annually for as many visits as you care to make. It means you don’t have to fiddle around with crowded Friday free-entry nights. You purchase the membership through the American Association of Museums (AAM). I sent my application out with a check and a copy of my student ID. I got an e-mail confirmation, which will act as a temporary place holder for my card, which is supposed to come in the next month. I can get in free at MOMA, the American Folk Art Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Jewish Museum and a plethora of other places in the city. The membership also includes a discount at some museum stores. Some of the museums aren't free however, prices are often reduced. In Miami you can get into Vizcaya, MAM, MOCA, the Jay I. Kislak Foundation and the Jewish Museum – all for free.  In some cases, you’ll also be able to get free subscriptions to museum newsletters and magazines.  Just going once to the four New York museums that I mentioned above would have cost me about $30 at the student price. Now I can visit multiple exhibits and never spend more than $35. So nice.

Reminder: This weekend, October 1 & 2, Museums on Us Bank of America Program.

Posted by Account Deleted at 01:45 PM on September 29, 2010 in College finances , Entertainment , Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beach Day

Ali Bar

Last weekend I went to the beach – a New York beach. Since fall is imminent and, unlike Miami, it actually gets cold here, I wanted to take full advantage of the still relatively warm weather. All it took was a somewhat lengthy subway ride on the A train down to Far Rockaway. As the train nears the beach, the ride becomes quite pleasant and at one point the subway car even goes over the water, setting up a strange juxtaposition. The view out the window is black, black, black and then water. It’s sort of surreal. PhotoA friend and I made the trek down to Far Rockaway and we brought food and had a nice little meal. There were clam shells scattered everywhere and we picked up a few. They’re quite large and now sit on the dining table in my apartment, holding change and all sorts of things. Of course, I didn't swim due to the ice water, but my friend found getting smacked around by the waves invigorating. All in all it was a relaxing day filled with sunshine, food, discovery, and lounging. And it only cost my subway fare there and back.

Posted by Account Deleted at 11:59 PM on September 28, 2010 in College finances , Entertainment , Home decor , Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free financial advice -- no sales pitch allowed

Name bar If you've ever been curious about talking to a financial planner, and maybe now more than ever, here's your chance.

On Oct. 2nd, the Financial Planning Association of Miami-Dade and City of Miami are offering a chance to talk to a certified financial planner at no charge. And the event is intended to be all about your financial concerns and questions: The person you speak with isn't allowed to follow up with you or even give you a business card, said Philip Herzberg, an Association board member.

Herzberg said the free advice and counseling could be especially useful for younger people experiencing a floundering economy and uncertain about how to manage their money.

"How you plan now and the financial habits you develop ... those patterns of discipline will dictate how you handle your finances and live your life in your 40s, 50s, and 60s," he said. Financial planning

The event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE 2nd Ave. in Miami. Walk-ins are welcome, but people who register will get the first shot at talking with a planner. Register and get more information here. You can also register by calling 877-861-7826. If you have specific questions, bring your financial documents with you.

If you check this out, Iet me know how it goes.

Posted by Nirvi Shah at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2010 in Banking , Savings | Permalink | Comments (1)

Early Savings For a Spooky Halloween

Amanda Bar

 Halloween is my favorite holiday, and don't be surprised that I've had this year's costume ready for months.  Picking out the perfect costume can be tricky, and if you want a quality outfit you can expect to pay $50 to $100 for an adult-size (I'm basing these figures on what I normally spend per costume, per year).  Some people say buying early is cheaper while others say buying a day or two prior to Halloween scores you the bigger price cuts, but many people often overlook the savings you can get by purchasing an outfit online.

Now is a great time to get a deal online at various websites - one in particular that I like to use is SpiritHalloween.com, a name that might be familiar to you if you have an annual Spirit Halloween store near you.  For those of you who didn't have the foresight to sign up for the mailing list, allow me to share with you a little insider savings:

Save $10 off $75 - Enter Code GET10 at Checkout
Save $15 off $100 - Enter Code GET15 at Checkout
Save $30 off $150 - Enter Code GET30 at Checkout

This offer is a limited time only and is not limited to costumes, so check out the website and see if you can score yourself (and maybe some friends/relatives who can reimburse you) some Halloween swag!

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 07:39 PM on September 21, 2010 in Entertainment , Savings , Shopping | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pension Planning For the Future

Amanda Bar

As I mentioned a few months ago, the city which I work for has recently found itself struggling under the financial crisis, and in order to regain some losses it decided to cut the benefits of all civilian employees working within the city.  Not only did I lose 4% of my total monthly income but my pension was also frozen, and I knew that sooner of later I'd have to decide what to do with my stagnant pension funds.

This week I received a letter from the Principal Financial Group advising that I currently have $12,000+ sitting in my pension plan (including interest) and I had two months to choose my options: either direct rollover into an IRA, or go for a cash distribution.

I know that I need to focus on the future, and that an IRA is the smart and obvious choice.  I don't currently need the extra pocket money, and I'd lose a large portion of it via an excise tax if I choose the pay-out option.  But woah, is it tempting!  It's been near impossible for my to build up my savings accounts since I purchased this house, and I still have so many little projects I'd like to accomplish if I could just get my hands on some extra cash.

Luckily I have relatives and co-workers to steer my impulses in the right direction, because it's so hard to think of tomorrow when you could use the funds today.

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 05:56 PM on September 16, 2010 in Banking , Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bike and Beach Longing

Ali Bar

This past weekend I went on an adventure to the lovely and incredibly safe Governor's Island, just off the shores of Manhattan. It’s a short FREE ferry ride away. Just take the 1 train to end, the South Ferry stop.  It gives you a completely new perspective on the city and for a newcomer it’s a good way to orient yourself on what’s where. A friend and I walked around a bit, taking in nature and the breeze off the water, until we came across a bike rental place.  Now with me missing my bike, I just had to see if I might be able to afford a rental. Given the benefits, the $15 fee seemed reasonable to me for two hours. It made the visit quite enjoyable and it was good exercise.  There is a sort of promenade around the island and you can see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as you ride.  I'd say for a really nice day, $15 was well worth it.  However, I guess it wasn't as cheap as my $8 beach day in Key Biscayne at the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in August.  Now I know there are free beaches all over the place in Florida, but I really didn't mind paying to go to Key Biscayne.  It doesn't even feel like you're in Miami anymore when you hit the beach.  All that surrounds you is water and the Cape Florida lighthouse, which you can climb.  Just seeing how the lighthouse is put together -- its large metal components and then the massive glass lenses used to send beams of light out -- was worth the entry fee to the park. (Remember I’m an architecture student.)  But on top of that, you get to enjoy a beach day.  How I miss swimming at the beach. :(

Posted by Account Deleted at 11:25 PM on September 13, 2010 in College finances , Entertainment , Savings | Permalink | Comments (3)

Free for all!

Name barA long while ago, I pledged to try to spend a whole day doing only free stuff (that involved not sitting on my own sofa and watching my already-paid-for basic cable).

I never quite got around to that. But that's what friends are for. 

In celebration of her boyfriend's recent birthday, one of my astute friends ferreted out a least a half-dozen deals linked to the special day. They scored a free Grand Slam at Denny's, a free sub from Firehouse Subs and a free entree at Moe's. There are deals waiting to be cashed in -- some good for the rest of the month; some just a few days after the big day, including a free handcrafted burger at Ruby Tuesday, treats from Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks. The big cahuna of birthday meal deals: a coupon for $30 off a dinner check at Benihana. Discovery Cruise Lines offers a free cruise to the Bahamas during your birth month. (My sister and I once joined forces on this deal, snagging my dad and my brother-in-law, who share a birth month, free cruises.) And thanks to Real Simple magazine, I just learned about a host of other birthday treats, including from Aveda and IHOP. You can find more deals in their October issue along with tips on saving money every day, including taking your own cup to the coffee shop (Einstein Bros. will give you coffee for $1 if you bring in your own mug -- but I can't tell if it must be one of theirs in the first place) and taking your own bags at Target and Whole Foods, which can save you five to 10 cents per bag. Birthday money 2

Some of these deals require signing up online, getting an e-mail and printing out a coupon (all of which may be followed by all sorts of offers, deals and ads.) Denny's and Firehouse simply wanted to see an ID on the big day.

Whether or not it's your birthday, free stuff awaits us all, apparently. Every year, Kiplinger puts out its list of best freebies. This year, while there are some things you're likely to think of on your own -- including getting free books at the library, if only for a short while -- there are some truly innovative suggestions, including a tip on getting free (and not fugly) passport photos. Check out item 14 on this year's list. They also suggest visiting freeshipping.org for deals on shipping when you're buying online, offer links to free deals for kids and free help with completing and filing your tax returns.

So whether it's a birthday or another occasion that sends you out eating or shopping, I'm guessing it's one you can save money on. Please let me know about other deals you know of -- birthday or otherwise.

Posted by Nirvi Shah at 03:05 PM on September 13, 2010 in Coupons , Entertainment , Food , Nightlife , Savings , Shopping , Vacations | Permalink | Comments (0)

3D Movie Prices Prove Eye & Mind Boggling

Amanda Bar

Everyone can look in a newspaper at the local movie times and see that 3D movies are hitting theaters in a big way.  Unfortunately for cinema fans, it also hits you in the wallet with elevated movie prices.  This weekend I saw Resident Evil: Afterlife, and I passed on the 3D option to both save myself $3.50 and to prove a point: that a movie doesn't need a visual gimmick to be enjoyable.

3dglasses-main_Full 3D movies are a cheap, or should I say not-so-cheap?, trend promising a more engaging movie experience when it really only delivers on a pricier movie ticket.  Unless it's a theater that's capable and designed to utilize all aspects of a goofy 3D experience (a la Disney's Muppet Vision 3D) or a film such as Avatar that uses 3D less for the thrill of it and more to enhance the overall beauty of the scene, I find it rarely worth the additional cost.  I mean yes, I could see where having a severed head flying at my face might prove amusing, but would you pay extra for such a thing?  I wouldn't (and didn't!) and enjoyed myself all the same; movie ticket prices are expensive as it is (anyone remember the good 'ol days when movies cost under $5?).

People seem to enjoy axes and blood splatter projected at their heads, though, and kudos for the movie executives for introducing this retro sight gag into modern cinema - the expense it costs to add in 3D effects (whether pre or post production) seems to more than earn it's weight back in box office gold.

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 01:27 PM on September 13, 2010 in Entertainment , Savings | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Pricey Transportation Snag

Ali Bar

I couldn't avoid it. I got a monthly unlimited metro pass for the New York subway. At $89, it’s expensive for me, but the subway is my lifeline and I take it for just about everything – shopping, school, to entertainment destinations. It will certainly end up being far cheaper than paying for individual trips. But if I had my bike, which sadly I left in Ithaca, I would attempt to use it for trips around the neighborhood. That could save me money and perhaps some time too.  In Ithaca, I could walk everywhere, and when I couldn't, my student I.D. acted as a bus pass. Public bus rides were free in Ithaca after 6 p.m. and on weekends.  I never put down a cent to get myself anywhere.  Now I'm definitely dealing on a much larger scale in New York, so that adds to the expense.  But if you have a bike, I'd recommend pedal power versus paying for public transport.


Interesting Note: Images from Noorda Design Studio. Bob Noorda, late designer of subway signs.

Posted by Account Deleted at 02:18 PM on September 12, 2010 in College finances , Savings , Utilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

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