• Posts Tagged ‘fun’

    Can Teenagers Afford to Go Crusin’ For Fun Anymore?

    by  • October 28, 2011 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Probably doesn't get very good gas mileage.

    Probably doesn't get very good gas mileage.

    image: mikebaird 

    I remember going to the gas station with my mom when I was a little wee lad. She’d give me $5 and I’d go tell the cashier, “Five bucks on pump three.” (on occasion she’d give me $10 and would also tell me to get $5 of lotto tickets, but that’s another post…) And that $5 of gas would last the week. Oh the days of yore.

    When I was a teenager one of the activities that I loved to do the most was to get in my (or my friends’) car, pick a direction, and drive. However, back when I was teenager I could fill up my crappy 80′s Japanese sports car’s gas tank for $10. Since I had a decent job, filling up the tank was no problem – friends usually pitched in as well. We had some epic drives, all starting from Chicagoland area, and ending up in Wisconsin, Indiana, or some very rural part of Illinois.

    A few days ago I filled up my early 2000′s Japanese compact car’s gas tank for $44.27. (Yay Chicago for having the highest gas prices in the nation.) There’s no way that the teenage me would be able to afford $45 of gas every week, or even every 2 weeks. Well, I probably could have afforded it but I wouldn’t have any money left over for other recreational activities. I got to wondering, do teenagers go out and just drive anymore? If not, that really sucks because it was such an enjoyable part of my teenage life.

    Do you have teenager kids or know of any? What are they doing if not driving around aimlessly?


    Follow Us, Win Money

    by  • May 20, 2010 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments


    We at Make Love, Not Debt have distrusted social media for a little while now. We’ve only personally embraced it in the last year or so and finally have wrapped our brains around the whole thing.

    And now we love it.

    Over the past few weeks I’ve added the oh-so-ubiquitous sharing buttons found on everyone’s and their mother’s blogs to each of our blog posts. I hope that in doing so I’ve made it easier for you to share our pearls of wisdom to the interwebs. We urge you to use them, at least for the fact that I worked really hard to get everything just right.

    We’d like for you to help welcome us to 2008 and help us be more 2010. We ask you, our awesome readers, to help us establish a presence on Twitter and Facebook. And as a reward, each week for the next four weeks we’ll be giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon.com. 

    As you may have guessed by the presence of a big blue bird for this entry, this week we ask that you follow us, @lovenotdebt, on Twitter. Each person who follows us will be eligible to win 25 smackaroos good at Amazon. The deadline for following us will be next Thursday, May 27, at 11:59 PM CST.

    Good luck, we look forward to communicating with you in 140 characters or less fewer!

    Thanks, James Harrison

    by  • February 2, 2009 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Because of your tide-turning, record-breaking, 100-yard-interception-touchdown-run, I am $20 richer.

    You see, the party I was at had game of football squares going. With extreme foresight luck, I picked the square that won me the halftime prize.

    Congrats, Steelers. That was one hell of a game.

    Out With the Old, In With The New (Year)

    by  • December 31, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    We at Make Love, Not Debt, wish you a safe and Happy New Year!

    Like every new year, we have a bunch of ideas and posts we’d like you to see in the upcoming weeks.

    Oh yeah, and we’re even going to update our net worth. It’s coming next Monday, so hold on to your socks.

    Peace out, see you in 2009!

    Bye Bye, Money, Time

    by  • December 30, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments



    That’s how I would describe one of the gifts that Her gave me for Christmas.

    It was a Nintendo DS Lite.

    I have already spent $20 at a local GameStop to buy myself a game. At least I bought used. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new game. Only used for me. In doing so, I’ll end up “saving” much of my money.

    But I want more.

    I crave more.

    But for now, back to playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.

    (Hey, look at that! I saved 50% buy buying used!)


    Chocolate Chip Cookies Are Hazardous To Your Budget

    by  • January 16, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    It’s again cold as hell here in Chicago, so we’ve decided that baking would be a good way to warm up both our bellies and the house. We better check out our bank account balance if we bake chocolate chip cookies, though.

    According to a recent study, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies can prompt women on a tight budget to splurge on a new item of clothing.

    From the study:

    …an appetitive stimulus not only affects behavior in a specific behavior domain, but also induces a shared state that propels a consumer to choose smaller–sooner options in unrelated domains…(emphasis mine)

    Thus, the researchers also surmise that male investors have something to watch for as well: the presence of an attractive woman in the trading room might propel an investor to choose the investment option providing smaller but sooner rewards. I guess with Her around so much I can’t help but make stupid, short-term, impulsive purchases.

    I guess this is another reason why you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach; having an appetite will influence your decisions to put everything in your cart in anticipation of feeding your hunger in the quickest way possible.

    If retail stores start pumping chocolate chip cookie smells into their departments and plastering pictures of attractive women all around, our budgets will be doomed!

    (via BoingBoing)

    Economic Incentive NOT To Hit Snooze

    by  • January 7, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    photo: DHDesign

    There was a time in my life when I NEVER hit the snooze button. It was always alarm, get up.

    Then I met Her. The snooze button suddenly became a viable option when there is a lovely, warm, and soft body next to mine every morning.

    I’m thinking that if I had a different alarm clock, though, it might be a different story. Especially an alarm clock that donated to a charity that I hated every time I hit the snooze button.

    Wake up to the smell of…Animosity…

    The SnūzNLūz(TM) alarm clock connects to your network via ethernet or even WiFi, and from there you interface with it though a web based configuration utility. You enter in your hated charity, your bank account information, and viola! Every time you hit the snooze button, you make a donation!

    Here are some of the “suggested uses”:

    Are you a butcher? Set your SnūzNLūz to donate to PETA
    Are you a hippie? Set your SnūzNLūz to donate to the American Coal Foundation.
    Are you a Ninja? Set your SnūzNLūz to donate to, hrrrm, we can’t find a Pirate Charity at the moment. But there must be one…somewhere…anyways, the point is it’s easy to setup once you identify your enemy!

    If your resolution for 2008 is to get to work early, or even on time, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.

    (via Chicagoist)

    Our 2007 Goals Status, Part 5: Have More Fun With Our Money

    by  • December 28, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    This is part 5 of our retrospective look at our 2007 goals. Here’s part 1 (Roth IRAs), part 2 (Student Loans), part 3 (credit cards), and part 4 (joint retirement portfolio).

    Looking back at our goals, it seems like we’ve managed to (mostly) successfully achieve most of them. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have some fun along the way! Without further ado, here are some of the fun things we’ve posted about that we’ve done with our money:

    Looking back, this year was pretty incredible. We’re definitely looking forward to 2008!

    Status: Hell yeah!

    Hotel Concierge Service: Above And Beyond

    by  • December 27, 2007 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    About 10 times a year I travel for my job. Sometimes the work that I do is quite easy, and I have more time to relax and do some sightseeing, or even make a vacation out of it. Other times the job can be quite stressful as we have to cater to our clients and make sure things go smoothly. When I need things to go especially well, I often enlist the services of the hotel concierge. Their advice is often invaluable in finding out the perfect restaurant in an unfamiliar city, for getting access to rooms at their hotel or another venue for impromptu meetings, or even getting umbrellas when an unexpected rain occurs. Of course, their work is rewarded with a generous tip.

    However, the requests that my coworkers and I ask from the concierge pale in comparison to others. A Chicago Sun-Times article reports the unusual requests that Jon Winke, a concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago since 1975, has had to fufill for guests. Some of them include:

    • A guest wanted to see the premier of the movie “Disclosure” but he didn’t want anyone sitting within three rows of him. Winke rallied staff members to go to the theater and buy enough tickets to block off several rows.
    • A mother of the bride left her contact lenses in a taxi and was upset about having to wear glasses to her daughter’s wedding. Concierge staff tracked down her California optician, got her prescription and had new contacts delivered to the hotel within two hours.

    Have you ever used the hotel concierge to make your life easier? What was the strangest request that you have asked from one?

    (via Chicagoist)

    Procrastination Saved Us Money This Halloween?

    by  • October 31, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    photo: patterened

    For at least a few weeks now, Her and I have known about a Halloween event that we’re going to. For weeks now, Her and I have known that wearing a costume to a party on Halloween is not only customary, but potentially event enhancing. For weeks now, Her and I did nothing to obtain a costume.

    So last night we thought it maybe a good idea to get costumes. The first place we went was a seasonal little Halloween shop not too far from our place. As expected, their selection was left wanting, but worst of all their prices were outrageous. At that point in the night it was getting late; despite that we decided to try our luck at another place.

    The second place we found by accident. We were driving around and noticed a sign in the window of a shop: “HALLOWEEN BLOWOUT!!!!” I miraculously found a parking meter in front of the store and we ran in to browse. Her found a great costume that was 50% off; we ended up paying a total ~$20 for her costume and accessories. Nice.

    Unfortunately, since it was already late that night, I couldn’t find a costume before the store closed. I had a costume in mind and thought it would be pretty easy to get. We ended up driving to the suburbs (a Halloween fright fest itself, lemme tell you) and checked out some Big Box stores, only to learn that their selection was crappier than the city stores, and to reaffirm that we’re never moving to the suburbs. While Her was quite pleased with, uh, her purchase, I went home without a costume.

    Before I went to bed, I looked up some costume shops that would be around my work. As luck would have it, there were more than a few. After a few meetings this morning I called just about all of them to ask if any of them had the costume I wanted in stock. Once place did, but was a little farther from my work than I was originally looking for.

    I bit the bullet and took the train over to the costume place on my lunch break. They had the costume I wanted, and when I went to pay for it the guy told me that it was 30% off, so I ended up paying ~$20 for my costume as well. And I got back to work before the hour was up.

    It’s too bad that we’re too old to Trick-or-Treat — I would have loved to recoup the costume costs with candy.

    How to Get a $1,600 Hotel Room for $10

    by  • October 30, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    photo: Goldwin Guenther

    1. Research and develop time machine

    2. Go back in time to Chicago in 1947

    3. Stay in the penthouse suite of the Palmer House Hilton for $10 and SAVE THE RECEIPT

    4. Get back in time machine to Chicago 2007

    5. Present $10 receipt from your 1947 stay at the Palmer House Hilton and request to stay in the penthouse suite

    6. Laugh all the way up to your room as you just saved $1,590

    7. ?????

    8. Profit!!!

    The above is exactly what an elderly couple did, except without a time machine. For their honeymoon in 1947, they stayed at the Palmer House Hilton penthouse suite for $10. Sixty years later, they went back to stay in the same room and paid the exact same amount.

    The Palmer House has an unusual policy that allows one-time guests who visited more than 50 years ago to stay at the historic hotel for the price of their original stay — provided guests can submit an original receipt. This policy has been offered since 1925, so you’re possibly out of luck if you stayed at the 136-year old hotel before that time.

    The coolest thing about this story? The couple didn’t even have to pay for their room; their 12-year old grandson footed the $10 hotel bill as a present to them.

    (the photograph above is the lobby of the hotel – not a Motel 8 by any means)

    (via Gapers Block, twice apparently)

    Reimbursed Vacation

    by  • October 25, 2007 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    photo: Davide Schiano

    Since Her and I graduated from college, we’ve never taken a “real” vacation together…something about paying off debt got in the way. We could never justify spending a lot of money to take a nice real vacation together.

    I’ve mentioned a few times that I get to travel for my job, and that I usually get put up at nice hotels. This past summer, I was offered the chance to go to a pretty nice location for work to attend a conference. I was going to be there for a few days and would have a lot of downtime. I thought it would be perfect opportunity to have Her come along and have a fun vacation on the cheap. Here’s how we did it.

    When I signed up for the Citibank AAdvantage card, I was entitled to received a free companion ticket. I made the reservation for both of our tickets with American Airlines; my ticket would get reimbursed, and Her’s was free with the exception of taxes (which amounted to about $20).

    Our company generally reserves hotel rooms only a few weeks in advance of travel. Because of this, many of the hotels near the convention center were already booked. We ended up booking a room at a hotel that was a little farther than walking distance, but happened to be the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. It might as well be the nicest hotel I will EVER stay in. We arranged a 4 night stay, but since I was doing work on only 3 of the days, we had to pay 1 night out of our own pocket. Since I was there for a conference we got a reduced rate on the room for all of our stay. We could have probably stayed somewhere cheaper for that 1 night, but all we could find were hotels that were far away from the convention center and hotel we were arranged to stay at. We decided the hassle wasn’t worth the $50 we’d save.

    Since we were more than walking distance to the convention center, we needed the use of a car. We rented a car for the full 4 days we stayed there, but paid for 1 day out of our pocket. We got a phenomenal deal on the rental through the travel agency that my work goes through, so we ended up paying $15 plus gas for the rental car.

    Whenever I travel, all of my meals are reimbursed as well. On the non-business day we were there, we ate pretty frugally – living in Chicago has given us an astute sense of where the cheap, but good eats are. Some of the days we ordered room service for 1 – the portions were so large that it easily fed both of us. Other meals weren’t extravagant, but weren’t all at at Subway, either. We saved a ton on food – so much that I didn’t mind the incredible pain in the ass it was to file the expense reports, separating our meals.

    A lot of the stuff we did for fun was free or cheap. We’re not really into touristy stuff, and much rather prefer to go on self-guided tours and get a feel for the culture of the place we’re visiting. We did do 1 touristy activity and got tickets from the hotel since they offered discounts. I guess that is one of the perks of staying at a super-nice hotel.

    After I was reimbursed for everything, our total out of pocket costs for the vacation was approximately $400. Not bad for 2 roundtrip flights, 4 nights hotel, 4 days of rental car, 4 days of meals, and entertainment. Oh yeah, and we got rewards for ALL of the vacation. The only downside is that I actually had to work on two of those days; although if it weren’t for my job, we wouldn’t have been able to have our first “real” vacation together.

    The Cost of Playing Soccer

    by  • October 22, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    photo: Albirecks

    I first played soccer when I was just 6 years old; I continued to play regularly until high school, when the lure of girls and money from my part-time job seemed more important. I didn’t start playing regularly again until a few years ago when Her and I moved to Chicago. Except for recovering from some surgery, I’ve been playing regularly for the last 3 years. Here’s what I’ve had to spend to get back into soccer as an adult:

    Shin Guards -$10
    I see people who play without shin guards and it makes me cringe. I’ve seen these things costing as little as $5, and they generally last forever. I personally don’t feel as if there’s much difference between brands or models.

    Knee Brace – $30
    Since I got knee surgery, I thought I’d get a little insurance in the form of a knee brace. After reading the scientific literature though, the effectiveness of a knee brace in preventing injury is questionable. Even if there is no benefit to wearing one, psychologically I like having it on. I do suffer from a minor loss in flexibility, but it is a small price to pay for (supposed) injury prevention.

    Goalie gloves – $30
    I don’t play goalie every week, but there are times when I’m needed at this position. Gloves often come with a multitude of features, from padded knuckles for punching the ball to gecko-like gripping for catching. Regardless of features, just having gloves is an improvement versus playing bare-handed.

    Shoes – $40
    Just like with running, a good pair of shoes can go a long way in preventing injury and even enhancing performance. As with gloves, shoes can also come with a variety of features, from special cleats to additions that can help you “bend it like Beckham” (who will not be in the playoffs because of the L.A. Galaxy’s loss to the CHICAGO FIRE hahaha).

    Clothing – $60
    This includes socks and a goalie jersey. Both of those have very useful functions of providing comfort and preventing cuts and scrapes from falls or slides. I didn’t include shorts because I wear the ones I bought for running.

    League fees – $280/year
    This is by far the most expensive – actually being able to play. I play four seasons with my team – spring, early summer, late summer, and fall. The cost to enter a team per season is usually around $1200, so I end up paying around $70/season.

    Getting back into soccer is one of the best things that I have done in my current post-college days. I’ve met new friends, have a lot of competitive fun, and have another reason to stay in shape. All of the equipment costs of the are one time costs, so playing more helps me get the most out of it.

    Frugal Festival Weekend

    by  • July 16, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    This past weekend we were at a pretty rockin’ music festival, and we managed to do everything on the cheap. Our total net spending on for the festival, food, and drinks totaled $50 for the two of us. Considering that tickets for the whole festival were selling for $45, I think we did pretty well. Here’s the breakdown.

    Tickets – We bought a few extra pairs of tickets and ended up selling them for the cost of the tickets plus the value of our tickets. Total cost: $0.

    Drinks – We were allowed to bring sealed water bottles into the festival so we picked up some water on the way at CVS, and refilled them as the day went on. I also bought a few beers at $4 each. Total cost: $14.

    Food – This is where our spending took a hit. We managed to sneak in a bag of trail mix that staved off the hunger for a little while, but our hungers were no match for the sun, the dancing, and the rock. Food at these festivals are expensive, and there’s no getting around that. Total cost: $36.

    The festival was well worth the total cost of $50. I wonder what the long-term costs of the hearing damage will be! Does anyone else hear that ringing…?

    The Summer Concert Festival Circuit, For Free or Profit

    by  • July 9, 2007 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Last year, we gleefully paid about $500 for tickets to three summer music festivals in Chicago. Fortunately for us, we struck early this year and purchased the early release tickets to all of the festivals, limiting our total to just about $200 for both of us.

    I guess that’s not totally honest. We did think ahead this year and bought extra tickets to each event, in hopes that we can sell them for at least the amount that we purchased them for. A search on Craigslist reveals that there is quite the market for tickets to the events that we have extra tickets for.

    A little capitalism goes a long way for providing cheap, free, even profitable summer fun.

    The VIP Drinks at Da Club

    by  • June 19, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    A few weeks ago a friend of ours had a birthday celebration at a club in downtown Chicago. Neither Her or I are of the clubbing type (and that includes baby seals) so we begrudgingly went. Lucky for us, there was no cover to get in before 9PM, so we were there nice and early. I do have to admit that clubs suck when they’re empty.

    The club itself was pretty nice, but again, not our style. After I had a few overpriced Miller Lites (still the cheapest beer there), I wandered into an empty VIP lounge. Scattered among the tables of the lounge space were champaign buckets that had menus of the VIP drinks. I was just un-inebriated enough to take this picture of it…

    The top bottle, the ‘L’ Exclusive de Ruinart, would run you just about $3,000! If I bought that, I sure as hell would expect to take every woman home (if I were single, and a pimp, of course) after we imbibed that sort of liquid gold.

    I also had no idea how much Cristal cost, and that there were even different varieties and sizes. I guess that’s why I’m not a rapper. Well, that and I have no flow.

    March Madness Rate of Return

    by  • April 4, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    With the Florida Gator’s win over the Ohio State Buckeyes last Monday, I managed to claim a share of the third place prize of my office pool.

    That amounted to $15 – a 3-fold return of my original investment of $5. Not bad.

    In years past I’ve had varying luck with March Madness pools. My worst performance was in college, when I put in $30 and got exactly nothing in return. My best performance was in grad school, where a measly $4 bet resulted in an $80 windfall (hey, it IS a windfall when you’re a poor grad student).

    How did you do this year in your March Madness pools? How have you done in years past?

    Free Summer Festivals Rock

    by  • July 21, 2006 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    The Wicker Park/Bucktown Summerfest this weekend pretty much snuck up on me. If it weren’t for the fine folks at Chicagoist who posted some of the lineup, I would have never have heard of it. Acts that I’m going to definitely see:

    Starlight Mints
    The Living Blue (formerly known as the Blackouts)
    Youngblood Brass Band

    Best of all, it all FREE. Well, almost free. Fine, there is a $5 suggested donation. *snicker*

    We’ll probably take public transportation there end up bringing our own beer and food and end up rockin’ out cheap. And if there weren’t this one, there are only a gajillion others this weekend.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    Almost Seven Months of Making Love, Not Debt – A Retrosepective

    by  • June 26, 2006 • Tagged: , , , ,  • Comments

    It took a lot of badgering to get Her to buy my idea about starting a personal finance blog that deals with money and relationships. Her finally bought it, and on the first day of 2006, we wrote our first post. Ironically, the current majority of posts on this blog are written by Her.

    Back then, we were merely beginners in the game of personal finance. We erroneously included our non-wealth building life insurance as a part of our net worth, putting our net worth in the positive. When we realized the error, we truly realized how much work we have to do, not to mention how much we are in the negative.

    Since then, about seven months have passed. We’ve been steadily making our way into the positive net worth, but more importantly, we’re steadily getting out of debt. It is easy to see that from the numbers, though. Here’s a smattering of things we have also improved upon since we’ve started this blog:

    – The interest on my credit card debt now ranges from 0% (until April 2007, and will be paid off in September 2006) to 2.99%; a far cry from the 12.99% to 20.99% that I had. For all of our credit card debt, we’re paying 5% interest or below.
    – Her dropped the interest rates on her variable interest rate student loans by a few percentage points.
    – We’ve maximized the use of coupons.
    – We haven’t accrued any new debt. Anything that we put on a zero balance credit card is paid off ASAP, and only put on that credit card to reap the rewards. We’re still committed to not going into more debt for the wedding.
    – We have both received raises. (hmm, I realized that our income isn’t up on the site anymore…we’ll have to look into changing that)
    – We’ve planned to get out of all credit card debt by the time we get married.
    – I sold my car a few months before I started this blog. Now we only have one car that we seldom drive, saving us tons of money of insurance, maintenance, gas, and other automobile related expenses.
    – Most importantly, we’ve been able to manage our debt so that it is not a barrier to the things we like to do everyday. This past weekend we’ve enjoyed the first of three summer music festivals, Intonation Music Fest. We’re headed to Cirque Shanghai, Ravinia twice, and other Chicago Festivals this summer. By squeezing our budget on most days, we’ve figured out how to enjoy life and pay off debt. We’re only in our 20′s once, so we figure we’ll enjoy it while we’re living in a big city such as Chicago and can physically and mentally tackle everything. We figure that we’ll be out of debt by the time we have kids, and then we’ll have no time for all of the things that we’re doing today.

    We’ve been at this for seven months, and we’re exited to see our progress. We can’t wait to see what’s coming up.