• Posts Tagged ‘chicago’

    Real Money, Real Investments – Giving $20,000 to First Graders

    by  • March 31, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    When I was 6 years old, I had many things to worry about. How would I avoid being picked last in kickball? How would I avoid being caught in a game of “tag”? What did I bring to lunch that would be an attractive item to swap for something better? Ah, the trials and tribulations of being a 1st grader.

    But what about worrying about what’s happening with your $20,000 portfolio? A lucky group of first graders at a Chicago high school now get to add “I” – investing – to the 3 R’s.

    Ariel Community Academy was established in 1996 by Ariel Capital Management, a Chicago money-management firm. Each 1st grade class at the school is given $20,000; the money at that point is mostly managed by employees of Ariel Capital Management, but the kids are briefed about what’s happening with the portfolio along the way. When the kids reach 6th grade the decisions are eventually turned over to them. Upon graduation from 8th grade, the initial $20,000 go back to the incoming 1st grade class; the profits can either be donated, invested, or pocketed, depending on the kids’ decision.

    These kids are extremely lucky to get this kind of experience. I shudder to think what I would have invested in when I was in 1st grade! $20,000 sure does buy a LOT of ring pops….

    (via Gapers Block)

    Unbelievable Rent Increase

    by  • January 25, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    When Her and I first most to Chicago, it took us a little while to find an apartment that would accommodate us and not have any weird holes in strange locations. We didn’t enlist the services of any of the apartment finding services here, but instead we took a multi-pronged approach of checking out Craigslist and the Chicago Reader.

    After seeing many apartments that were too small for the rent asked, had too many holes in weird places (seriously, this was a weird theme in our hunt), or were not in a location near to public transportation, we finally saw one we liked. Thus, a little over three years ago, we signed a 3-year lease for a 3 bedroom apartment in a great Chicago neighborhood a few miles north of downtown. Not only that, but we somehow found a place for only $900/month, with a 5% increase each year thereafter. Sure there was no dishwasher; we’re fully capable of doing dishes ourselves. It didn’t have a washer/dryer in the unit, or even in the building, but that wasn’t a problem since there is a laundromat a steps away from our apartment.

    In the time in which we’ve been in our apartment, we’ve seen many buildings get torn down, and others rise up to take their place. To our delight a brunch place and a coffee shop opened up two years ago, just steps away from our apartment. A CVS opened up shortly after we moved just a block and a half away. All of this has resulted in more foot traffic on our block, meaning safer commutes and more of a community feel.

    Alas, this March our lease to rent our current apartment was set to expire. Because of the 5% rent increases over the last few years, our rent has increases but has managed to stay a hair under $1,000.

    As Her and I have a wedding this year and much uncertainly of where we even want to be in a few years, we mulled over the decision to ask our landlord to extend our lease. We didn’t have much time to mull it over when we came up to speak with us about that very topic.

    He offered us this proposal: An even $1,000 per month, for the next two years. No increase…and if we wanted to stay longer, he wouldn’t increase the rent.

    Our landlord was proposing to raise our rent by less than $8 per month for the next two years. With an option to renew at that rate.

    Unbelievable. The fact that he was going to offer it to us for so cheap was unbelievable.

    Needless to say, we have a place to live for the next two years.

    Midwest Conference Center and Wedding Receptions

    by  • May 24, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    We recently toured the Skyline Ballroom at the Midwest Conference Center to see if it would work for our wedding reception. Their website has very little information so I thought it would be helpful to our readers to post what we learned.

    According to theknot.com, the Midwest Conference Center is one of the least expensive reception locations in the Chicago area. The MCC website says their wedding packages start at $18.95 per person. This is not exactly true. This package exists, but includes only 1 entree selection (a Mexican entree) and no alcohol or cake. Their traditional wedding packages start at $33.95 per person (for a chicken entree and open bar) and go as high as $55.95 per person (for a beef entree and premium bar, as well as other upgrades). In any case there is a $5,000 minimum. You are not allowed to bring in outside food, although you may provide the cake. There are no price deductions for anything you reduce or substitute from the packages, including the cake.

    The Conference Center is located at 400 West Lake Street in Northlake, IL. Although they are located just off the highway, it is a difficult place to find. You actually need to do a U-turn at one point because Lake Street is a divided boulevard and you cannot enter it and turn left. We were worried our out-of-town guests would have too much trouble with the directions. They do offer plenty of free parking though.

    The “Skyline Ballroom” is advertised as having great views of the Chicago skyline. This is true…sort of. The ballroom has floor to ceiling glass on three sides, and it is possible to see the skyline way off in the distance. The immediate views, however, leave much to be desired. One side has a view of the highway interchange, with highways as far as the eye can see. The sound of highway traffic is quite audible, even up on the 16th floor. The far end has a view of the American manufacturing industry, with the factory rooftops and parking lots as far as the eye can see. The last side has a view of an industrial train yard. Tracks criss-cross the landscape in all directions and there are red and blue trian cars piled high and far. There are so many you could not ever count them all. The views are certainly interesting and my dad would probably enjoy seeing this view of America. It just isn’t very romantic or wedding-y. There is also no place to take wedding photos outside, so this would have to be done elsewhere.

    The ballroom is reasonably nicely decorated. The room seemed small (the dimensions are about 72 feet by 48 feet) but was pleasant. Six large columns that interrupted the space, but the hostess assured me they take care not to seat guests behind the columns. The room accommodates between 100 and 185 guests. The room is done in wood paneling and a green and gold carpet. A 18′x18′ dance floor is available. The tables and chairs were sturdy and in good condition, although the bright green chairs would probably need to be covered with chair covers.

    Overall Impression
    We both felt the space was workable, but not ideal. We’d like something with more aesthetic appeal.

    Tre Kroner (Good Eats In Chicago)

    by  • February 23, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    One of our favorite restaurants, Tre Kroner, was recommended in today’s Red Eye. According to the author,

    Tre Kroner, a 20-table storefront owned by Patty Rasmussen (a Norweigan-American) and her husband, Larry Anderson (a Swedish-American), blends the traditional dishes of its owners heritage and updates them for American palates. It also does a brisk brunch business, thanks – at least in part – to the delicious lingonberries, which make several appearances on the menu.

    We first discovered Tre Kroner on the way to a dentist appointment. There was a huge brunch crowd gathered in front. Anyplace with a line like that has to be good! So we checked it out a few weeks later and fell in love with the place. For one thing, the food is heavenly. They offer a brief menu of perfectly-prepared dishes. Their omelets are the lightest we’ve ever had. We also really like their salmon eggs benedict and their rotating assortment of fresh-baked pastries, which are filled with lemon, apple, raspberry or hazelnut.

    The atmosphere is very pleasant. The restaurant is staffed by attentive, cheerful Swedish-looking waitresses. The setting is unique in that it occupies two floors of an old home. The downstairs dining room is bustling with activity while upstairs it is quaint and peaceful. Even the upstairs bathroom is charming, with its lace curtains and antique claw foot bathtub.

    The prices are so reasonable they almost seem antique too. We’ve never spent more than $25 including tip on breakfast for both of us. It’s a charming little place where you can enjoy a great meal at a great price.

    We recommend: Tre Kroner!