Travel & Leisure

How to Get Free Tickets to Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Tickets to the 56th Inaugural Ceremonies will be provided free of charge and distributed through Members of the 111th Congress. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies does not provide tickets to the public. Members of the public interested in attending the Inaugural Ceremonies should contact their Member of Congress or U.S. Senators to request tickets.

The public should also be aware that no website or other ticket outlet actually has inaugural swearing-in tickets to sell, regardless of what they may claim. Tickets will not be distributed to Congressional offices until the week before the inauguration and will require in-person pick-up.

“Any website or ticket broker claiming that they have inaugural tickets is simply not telling the truth,” said Howard Gantman, Staff Director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “Tickets for the swearing-in of President-elect are all provided through members of Congress, and the President-elect and Vice President-elect through the Presidential Inaugural Committee. We urge the public to view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism.”

Note: When I called the office of my local Congresswoman, I was told the tickets were not yet allocated (i.e., they don’t know how many they are getting or how many tickets per person or household) and that they would not know or distribute them until some time next month. I was told I would be notified either way, based on my email request –BudgetMaven

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Couchsurfing connects travelers to free couches worldwide

Posted on October 24, 2008. Filed under: Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , , |

One of the best ways to learn about a different country or city, the culture, get the real flavor of a place and find out about the best things to see and do when you are traveling is to ask a local and/or hang where the locals do. You can’t get any closer to that local source or more personal than this… If you are traveling to or visiting somewhere and want to find a free place to sleep or if you’ve got a couch a traveler can crash on, read on about

The CouchSurfing 2.0 Mission

Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time

CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding.

As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal.

CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it’s about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!

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FREE NIGHT OF THEATER 2008 Launches in Over 100 Cities Across the Country on October 16!

Posted on September 27, 2008. Filed under: Entertainment, Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , , |


Launches in Over 100 Cities Across the Country on October 16!

As the Free Night program rolls out over an ever expanding national stage, we are thrilled to offer this unique opportunity to provide access to thousands of new audience members to experience the joy of theatre for the first time — absolutely free of charge!

“Since the campaign’s pilot year here three years ago, we have seen an extraordinary response from theatres, audiences and the whole community. The demand for live theatre–when it’s made accessible to all–is overwhelming. We’re bringing in new audiences–young people, people of color, people from all walks of life–and they are coming back for more. Free Night of Theater has thrown the doors of our theatres open wide.”

— Brad Erickson, executive director of Theatre Bay Area

Free Night of Theater is Theatre Communications Group’s exciting national audience development program designed to attract new audiences to America’s not-for-profit theatres. Since the pilot program, which debuted in three cities in 2005, Free Night has expanded across the country and will be presented in over 100 cities by more than 600 theatres in 2008.

The 2008 campaign debuts on October 16, 2008 and will once again be produced in Atlanta, Austin, Boise, Cincinnati, Cleveland, the state of Connecticut, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Lexington, Los Angeles, the state of New Jersey, the state of North Carolina, Oregon (in Ashland and Eugene), Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle/Greater Puget Sound, South Carolina/Charleston, states represented by Southeastern Theatre Conference (including Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia and West Virginia), Utah, Washington D.C. and the state of Wisconsin.

The 2008 program will also be presented in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas and New York City. Additional cities will be joining the program over the next few months, so be sure to check back often.

Free Night of Theater invites you to GET LIVE!

Tickets are being offered, in most areas, to performances from October 16th through October 30th and can be reserved beginning on October 1st, but every location is different so be sure to check the Find a Show Page for details on participating theatres and performances in your area.

For northern California shows and locations go to

Whether you never been to the theatre before, or just haven’t been in a long time, Free Night has something for you!

Free Night of Theater invites you to find yourself…on stage.

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Free tea tastings and education

Posted on September 11, 2008. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Entertainment, Health & Beauty, Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , , |

Yesterday, I wrote about going to the de Young museum in San Francisco with a friend of mine  last Sunday and how I received free general admission with my Bank of America card.  Kathryn and I were at the museum from about 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm. We weren’t ready to end our visit, so we decided to go get coffee. Kathryn suggested checking out Clement street which isn’t far from the museum or her apartment in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco.


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Free Museum Weekends for Bank of America card customers

Posted on September 10, 2008. Filed under: Entertainment, Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , , , |

I just went with a friend to the de Young museum in San Francisco last Sunday to see the amazing Chihuly art glass exhibit.  The Chihuly exhibit at the deYoung will only be there through September 28th.  Because I have a Bank of America card, I only had to pay the $5.00 special exhibit admission.  I was able to tour the rest of this fantastic museum for free instead of paying an additional $10.00 which is the regular general museum admission fee.  To get the free admission, I had to purchase my Chihuly ticket on site at the museum and show a photo I.D. and my BofA card.  I was not required to make the purchase with the BofA card.  At the de Young, only my general admission was free. I could not extend my benefit to the friend who came with me, who unfortunately did not have a BofA card.

Bank of America is currently offering this benefit to customers  – free general admission to over 70 museums across 18 states in the U.S. for the first weekend of every month if you have any kind of Bank of America card – check, ATM, or credit.  There are still months left to take advantage of this offer – click here to find out more!

More tips specific to a visit to the de Young so you can plan accordingly:

– The food at the museum cafe is overpriced and only fair.  $9.00 for a so-so ham or turkey and cheese sandwich and $6.00 for a pint of watermelon chunks is too much to pay.

– Weekday parking is $2.50 an hour at the deYoung and $3.00 an hour on the weekend, so you will save money if you are willing to park for free further away and walk a little.

– The museum also boarders the gorgeous, walkable Golden Gate Park which is closed to motor traffic on Sundays. It is very close to the section of the park where you can find the Japanese Tea Garden.  Some scenes from the film Memoirs of a Geisha were filmed here.  Admission to the tea garden is $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for children.

– General admission to the de Young also gets you in free to the Legion of Honor, the fine arts museum in San Francisco if you show your ticket and go the same day, also worth a visit. This is not part of the Bank of America promo, so this can be taken advantage of anytime you go.

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Three Options for FREE Directory Assistance: FREE 411, GOOG 411, FreeMobile411

Posted on August 31, 2008. Filed under: Business, Career & Work, Personal Finance, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

For those of you who are on the road, and on their cell phone, all the time, here is some great info.  Fees for directory assistance calls (including ones made from cellphones), are on the increase. On Feb. 1, Sprint increased its 411 fee from $1.49 to $1.79. Last fall, Verizon and Cingular boosted fees to $1.49 and $1.79, respectively.  Last month, I had to find a phone number to call a distant relative in another state. So silly me, when I couldn’t find it on the web, I called state area code-555-1212 for directory assistance from my land line.  When I got my AT&T phone bill, I was unpleasantly surprised to find I was charged $1.75.  The last time I had done that, it wasn’t more than 50 cents.  Bad BudgetMaven.

What I should have done and will do from now on when I need directory assistance from home or cell, without incurring any charges, is dial one of these:

1-800-FREE-411 which is also 1 (800) 373-3411
Thanks to a newly expanded service called 1-800-FREE-411, you can request the digits of individuals and businesses without paying a fee at all.  The start-up has been around since September 2005, but was propelled into the spotlight late last year after garnering $30 million in venture capital. The trade-off is minor: to keep the service free, you’ll listen to a short sponsor ad (on average 12 seconds) from a local business before your request is completed.

800-GOOG-411 which is also 1 (800) 466-4411

Google’s directory assistance 800-GOOG-411 is offered to the public free of charge and does not contain advertising

Users that call 1-800-466-4411 are told that the call is being recorded to improve results, and then asked to say the city and state of the sought business. Users may then search for the business by name or category, which generates a list of businesses matching the search. Users may then select a business on the list by saying “number” followed the number that corresponds to the business, or press the desired number on their phone. Once a business is selected, Google automatically connects the user to the business or sends an SMS/text message with the phone number. Alternatively, users can listen to the address and phone number by saying “details”.  U.S. users may narrow search results by zip code or street intersection.

Search can also be invoked by using the phone keys if the system misses the spoken query multiple times. This works in a similar manner to predictive text input on a cellular phone.

You can view a short video of how to here:

FreeMobile411 (available at both and

FreeMobile411™ by V-ENABLE gives fast and easy access to millions of US business (restaurants, shops, banks etc) and residential listings, detailed maps, nearby points of interests, driving directions and much more.

The downloadable version of FreeMobile411™ is a very easy to use VOICE-ENABLED search application. After downloading FreeMobile411™, just open the application on your mobile phone, PRESS and HOLD the “talk” key and say the “City and State” you need. Next, select either “Search by Business Name”, “Business Type” or “Person”. PRESS and HOLD the “talk” key and say either the business listing you are looking for (“Joe’s Pizza”), a business category (“Pizza”) or a Person (“John Smith”). Within a few seconds, the phone number, address, map, directions, nearby places and other great features will be displayed on you phone. You also have the option to make a search by typing in your request if you are in a very loud or quiet environment.

Where the product differs from others today, such as 1-800-Free-411 and Google’s Goog-411 is that FreeMobile411™ also allows you to type in the information you need and connect to a live operator if needed.  Using real people to assist with free 411 calls seems like a step back into the past, but it’s a point of differentiation that will appeal to some people, especially when automation fails.

To obtain FreeMobile411™, please fill in the information needed in the “Get Started” page of their site or click here.  You can also access FreeMobile411™ in your phone’s browser by typing

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Get a FREE Museum Day Admission Card for 2 to use on Saturday, September 27th

Posted on August 13, 2008. Filed under: Entertainment, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Thanks to Smithsonian and their sponsors – Enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums and cultural venues nationwide.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Search for participating museum venues by state here

Present the Museum Day admission card to receive free general admission at participating Museum Day locations. The admission card is available in the September 2008 issue of Smithsonian magazine or downloadable via the Smithsonian site. You will need to select a museum from the venue page list that you want FREE admission to on September 27th when you apply for the card.

Note: Smithsonian is promoting membership, but you don’t need to be a member or subscribe to the magazine to participate!

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.99 cent Frozen Yogurt Waffle Cone Wednesdays at TCBY!

Posted on August 5, 2008. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

TCBY is proud to announce Waffle Cone Wednesday!

Every humpday, now throughout the summer at participating locations, you can get a ginormous frozen yogurt waffle cone for only 99 cents, instead of the usual $3 or so. Try a different flavor every week chosen from their expansive menu. A few faves: White Chocolate Mousse, Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche, and they have a new Blueberry flavor.

TCBY yogurt is loaded with probiotics – live active cultures that enhance your immune system and help regulate digestion. So not only does it taste good, it’s good for you. Some flavors are fat-free and/or have no added sugar.

I just wish there were a TCBY closer than 20 miles to me!

Find a TCBY near you. Offer ends unknown.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far ) – free local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: Entertainment, Home & Garden, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

I didn’t make any entries in my blog over the weekend because I was busy with other things, socially as well as home improvement projects. One of the projects involved perusing in my area for free sod leftover from other landscaping projects. Craigslist provides free local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events. It was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark in the San Francisco Bay area, and given that and the population here, the SFBA Craigslist site is probably one of the largest. It’s been a fantastic resource for me.

I have found jobs and clients on Craig’s List, employees and interns, a seamstress to inexpensively recover some chair cushions ($20 and she even piped the edges), offered short term housing rentals, found garage sales, auctions, advice, and good stuff for cheap or free. Recently, my coffee grinder broke and I was able to get a good used replacement for $1. There is a fee for job posting if you’re an employer.

CraigsList has grown tremendously all over the world. As of September, 2007, Craigslist had established itself in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries. Recently, my sister in southern Maine very excitedly informed me that they finally have a CraigsList site for her area, previously the closest was metro Boston.

Back to the sod. I found two sources within 3 miles of my own home and was able to pick up about 100 square feet of free sod. Cut sod has a pretty short shelf life. My gardeners don’t come until Wednesday, and I am no green thumb, but I looked up “how to DIY” online. It was relatively easy. I worked up a little sweat breaking up the packed down soil to prepare it for the sod and a roll of sod can be rather heavy. I was able to install the 8 rolls on one side of my brick patio area in a little less than an hour, including giving it a good watering. One of the sources had leftover dwarf fescue, the other unknown, but they seem to match pretty well. It’s not as perfect as if I had gone through a professional landscaping service or a single supplier, but it looks so much better than before as you can see from the photos. To complete the job, I probably still need another 150 square feet for the other side of my brick patio. So I will continue to search Craigslist for FREE sod daily.

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Hypermiling and more gas saving tips

Posted on July 18, 2008. Filed under: Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , , |

From an article that appeared in the Dallas Morning News last week:

Hypermilers are an emerging subculture born of the ability to track gas mileage via a dashboard gauge. Hypermilers use a variety of techniques to maximize fuel efficiency: airing the tires up to or beyond the recommended pressure, forgoing air conditioning, coasting whenever possible (sometimes with the engine off), timing their arrivals at intersections to hit green lights and traveling around 50 mph on the highway.

One hypermiler quoted in the article, has been squeezing 85 to 90 mpg out of his hybrid Insight, a car rated at 53 mpg.

More Gas Saving Tips from the article:

Digital mileage gauge: This device hooks into the vehicle’s computer and gives instant feedback on fuel consumption, allowing drivers to see what practices burn excess fuel. It costs about $150.

Tires: Filling tires to the recommended or maximum pressure can have a big impact on fuel economy. While there is less friction in a highly pressurized tire, it also can make the ride bumpier.

Speed: Varying speeds can be ideal for gas mileage, but driving more than 60 mph always decreases fuel economy substantially. Every 5 mph over 60 mph reduces fuel economy by the equivalent of 30 cents per gallon.

Weight: Keep the car as light as possible. Every 100 pounds off the vehicle can increase fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent.

Gas and brake pedals: Only use the pedals when absolutely necessary, which means keeping an eye on the road ahead and planning your drives accordingly. Don’t accelerate toward a stop sign. Coming to a complete stop nets 0 miles per gallon, so setting a pace in a traffic crunch and timing green lights can go a long way toward helping gas mileage.

Sources: and hypermiling expert Wayne Gerdes has a great summary of more gas saving tips:
1. Drive at a moderate speed
2. Drive smoothly
3. Reduce unnecessary drag
4. Don’t use premium fuel if you don’t have to
5. Minimize drivng with a cold engine
6. Keep tires properly inflated
7. Buy tires with lower rolling resistance
8. Avoid idling for long periods

as well as some gas saving myth busters explained (i.e., doing these does not really help you save money or gas):
1. Fill up in the morning
2. Air conditioning vs. open windows
3. Replacing your air filter

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