Times are tough and money is tight but this is nothing new for some of us. My family always had an abundance of love and creativity to thrive on but we never had an abundance of money (*love you guys!*). Lucky for me, this made for a very interesting childhood to say the least. It also primed me for survival during times of economic crisis... like now!
From about 1985 to '97 my two parents, two sisters and I moved from one trailer to the next almost once a year. And although these trailers were located amidst the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, filled with my father's art and surrounded by my mother's garden, they were still trailers and we were still a poor, young family. Trailers suck. As money would dwindle at the end of each month, everything from our meals to our family outings would down-shift like clockwork. Things never became bleak though because our dad was always there to read to us and our mom, the eternal optimist, made everything into a game.
"Time to play 'poor girls'" our mom would say. When this was declared we would make the scrimping and saving into something romantic and exciting. We would bake our own bread along with big batches of soup that could be portioned out for a week's worth of lunches and we would find more free ways to have fun! For me, that was then in Virginia and this is now in California. The economy's bad everywhere and depending on how things go next Tuesday we have to be prepared for anything!
Recession getting you down? Turn that frown around in this fabulous town...
Poor Boy/Girl's Guide to SF:
Food and Drink
Cutting back on eating out? Try cutting in half instead! Every time you eat at a restaurant take half to go and make one meal into two. For groceries Trader Joe's seems to have the best prices and offers the the lovely and amazing 2-buck-Chuck for budget drinkers, if beer is your thing it may be time to say hello to PBR. When it comes to morning coffee say goodbye to pumpkin-spice lattes and hello to good 'ol tea and coffee. If you make it at home you're saving a ton, but if you have to grab it on the run I've never seen a large coffee for more than $2.00 and you can spice it up with cinnamon and nutmeg if you want it to taste special. My favorite cafe is my neighborhood spot: Atlas
Dude, if you don't already ride a bike now is the time! Save the environment and fatten that piggy bank. My bike is a clunky French bike from the 70s, nothing fancy, but it gets me all over the city and I love it! I spent $150 bucks to make it my own and so far I've saved at least $270 in Muni passes not to mention cab fees and if you drive think about the freedom from gas and parking tickets! Favorite bike shop: Mojo's
Forget Union Square, San Francisco's best shopping can be found in the Mission and Lower Haight. First see what you can find at the Goodwill then if you need something more try Out of the Closet and Crossroads. If you want name-brand shit the Crossroads on Fillmore is where rich people seem to sell in this city...
So many great things to do and see here! But my newest favorites are both free live music nights: Sundays at Revolution and Mondays at Amnesia. Both have cozy and intimate atmospheres, interesting people and of course drinks! You get to save on cover fees but try to spare a little for the musicians if the hat is passed, they need it to do what they do!
Money can be lost or stolen but no one can take away your knowledge! No money to spend on a class right now? Reading is the best free learning I can think of! Peel you're eyes off that computer screen and visit the Public Library for hours of no-charge education. Not in the mood for reading... check out some of our great San Francisco museums on the free days!
And Don't Forget To Offer Something Back!
There are lots of free things offered in a big city but it's only because people are generous! Try to find something that you can give freely it feels good and it keeps the whole thing flowing. I cut hair for my friends and decided at some point that I would try to give it away whenever I could. It's a small service to offer but it seems to help people out and it makes me feel good to do something for people I like! So maybe play a song, bake a cake or teach a friend how to make something new! Our city is big but our community is tight, we may get low on money but we all have each other and we rock!