Maybe the title of this post should be “Cheaper Rent…” After all, San Francisco, as you know, is not a cheap place. And the #1 expense for most folks is rent – that huge chunk of change you fork over every month to the person (or faceless corporation) that owns the building you live in. (Hell, even if you”own” your place, it's the bank that really calls the shots — and they won't even fix your toilet if it backs up!)
We Cheap Bastards used to think that the only solution to the problem was the coming Big One. Surely, that would create some vacancies, driving the rents down where we can afford them. But it turns out that the bottom dropping out the economy did the trick just as nicely.
According to that not-exactly-tenant-friendly local rag The Examiner, median rental prices are continuing their downward march since August 2008. Check out their table of the rents:
||Median rental rate*
|* Relates to asking price, which is often higher than actual price
Get one of these places, grab a few roommates, and party like it's 1994!
What are your techniques for finding cheap rents in the City? Is it who you know? How many roomies you can conjure?
Spill the dirt in the comments!
Every now and then, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (a subsidiary of the Unilever soap company) gives away sundaes at their scoop shops (There's apparently more of them in SF than I thought, according to their Store Locator. I only knew about the one in the Upper Haight.). The trick is finding out when they do this.
Follow this link to the Free Cone Day web page to hopefully find out when! I usually get an email from a friend two days after I miss the chance….
As you may know, the SF Bay Guardian is the leading & original weekly “alternative” newspaper here in San Francisco. They're feisty & venerable, bringing a real local perspective on the issues that matter (or should matter!) to San Franciscisans.
What matters this week? Free stuff! Here in SF! (and, as you Cheap Bastards know, free trumps cheap in the great card game of stinginess.) The Guardian has published a very useful guide to getting all kinds of free stuff: food, drinks, parties, haircuts, sex events, and even weed. Check out the guide on the Guaridan's Web site, it's truly an amazingly useful resource.
Some of our favorite highlights?
- Free beer at Lazlo on the first Friday of the month from 6pm to 7pm, hosted by Upper Playground.
- Free sex-related classes, events, and parties at Good Vibrations
- Free cooking demos (with free food, of course!) in the basement of Macy's department store at Union Square — be careful not to buy anything, though. The stuff is definitely not free!
The full, amazinly useful list is at the Guardian's site.
In addition to being absolutely free, walking is the best way to see San Francisco. (Sure, the cable cars are fun, but $5 a ride with no transfers is too rich for our blood!) Really, you have to put on your comfy shoes, pick a neighborhood, and hoof it to get the real feel of the City.
The Sunday Streets program takes this already superb way to travel the blocks of Baghdad by the Bay, removes the cars, and amplifies the fun! When Sunday Streets goes down, you can traverse not just the sidewalks, but the entire block of the town (in designated areas only — check their website).
The next Sunday Streets is this coming Sunday, July 19th, in the Mission from 10am – 2pm. Check out the events (performances, games, etc.) and the route map on the Sunday Streets webiste.
See you in the street!
In the middle of June, Japanese Buddhists celebrate Obon, a festival in which the dead are remembered, appreciated, and celebrated. A part of this celebration is the Bon Odori, a joyful dance to remember our ancestors.
Here in San Francisco, one of the oldest Buddhist groups outside of Asia, the Buddhist Churches of America, celebrate Bon Odori on July 25th and 26th, at their church in Japantown at 1881 Octavia Street at Pine. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the festival, play some games, listen to some music, and, of course, eat home-cooked Japanese food. There are also many Japanese-American items for sale at their “Ginza Bazaar.”
It's a fun day, great for families, and features a Bon Odori dance on the Sunday at 1:00pm.
A donkey's age ago, way back in 1993, Snoop Dogg released the song Gin and Juice, which instantly became a West Coast G-funk hip hop classic (much to the delight of frat boys everywhere). But with the seemingly materialistic chorus “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind,” was Snoop actually offering advice to the Cheap Bastard in all of us?
Being a lazy bastard as well, I promptly ignored the advice until recently. In the wake of the economic meltdown, I decided the time had indeed come to get my money on my mind. I'm not talking just about figuring out how to get cheap rent or finding free wine in San Francisco, not that that's not important, but actually starting to track all income and expenses in my budget. As a reader of both the Get Rich Slowly blog as well as the more ascetic Your Money or Your Life, this is something I claimed I'd get around to doing for a long time.
Finally, though, at long last, I'm happy to say that I've created a budget! How? Mint.com. I highly recommend them, as they offer an easy-to-use, almost fun, site that helps you get your financial life together. Or at least more together than the current mess you may find yourself in. Mint's easy to use and free (of course, this ranked very high on my approval meter!). But best of all, I've saved Cash Money already. Thanks to it's ability to track all my expenses across multiple accounts & categories, I've stopped missing payments on bills (saved on late fees), eliminated bank “account maintenance” fees (we're supposed to pay the banks for the privelege?), lowered my long-distance fees, etc.
Definitely check it out! Of course, any budgeting software, or even a paper adn pencil, can help you draw up a budget. The idea is to, well, get your mind on your money, and stop spending a couple extra bucks here and a couple extra ducats there. It adds up!
And as to whether's Snoop's real message of the song was that it's fun to drink gin and smoke Indo, well, that's still up for debate.
Ah, the Randall Museum… that glorious savior of parents with bored kids on a rainy day! Or not so rainy a day.
If you’ve got some sprogs in the Bay Area and aren’t familiar with this valuable institution, you owe it to yourself to learn more. The Randall Museum is a free museum, located on a hill overlooking the Upper Haight and the Castro districts that offers educational programs and exhibits, a small collection of local wildlife (my kid loves the visible bee hive!), and various programs and events. It’s a great alternative to the crowds and the expense of hauling ourselves out to the California Academy of Sciences or the Exploratorium (not that those aren’t excellent resources – they are, in fact, excellent…. just not so cheap).
Perhaps my kid’s favorite part is the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club’s basement model train room. Multiple tracks are set up in the basement running beautiful trains through tiny cities and mountains. They operate on Saturdays only, but it’s a worthwhile way to while away an afternoon.
San Francisco, one of the great food cities of the world has a highly developed restaurant scene. A lot of these places are very expensive, but even in these recessionary times, we can get some good grub at a Cheap Bastard price! What are your recommendations for the best Cheap Restaurants in San Francisco?
Open mic nights are a great way to get in some free entertainment, and this one, a singer-songwriter night at one of my favorite bars, The Hotel Utah, is a great way to spend a Monday night! Admission's free, songs are free, beer's a bit higher-priced (but you still may have enough change in the cushions of your couch to afford some brew).
Cheap Bastard says Check it out!
Jun 22, 2009: Ruben Diaz (feature performer) @The Hotel Utah Open Mic at Hotel Utah –
THE HOTEL UTAH WEEKLY OPEN MIC with host JJ Schultz http://theutah.org The Hotel Utah open mic is the epicenter of San Francisco's singer-songwriter community. Its stage attracts performers at all stages of their careers: from seasoned veterans to first-timers. It attracts music fans who know a good thing when they see it. The musicians who come regularly don't come just to get a little “stage time” – they come because of the community that calls Monday at The Utah home – and the musicians that come in for the first time eventually start to come regularly… So come on down this monday, have a beer, bring your guitar if that's your thing, and sit back and enjoy. This week's feature performer – RUBEN DIAZ
While we'd hate to think that buzz-killing chemicals would ruin the fun of Lead-Filled Barbie or Thomas the Toxic Tank Engine, I guess it's better to know, right? Well, SF's Department of the Environment agrees with you. And to sate the curiosity of the public, they are offering free toy testing on Thursday, January 22, 11am to 1pm, at their offices on 11 Grove Street.
Best of all…they are offering up to $25 per toxic toy to put toward the purchase of a new “toy” (limit two toys tested). Uh huh. Anyone else want to join me scouring the kid's sedtion of Thrift Town? Look for the playthings with the lead paint. Remember not to chew them.
Read their awesome info on toxic toys. Or call 415 355 3755 for more info.