A Tightwad's Guide to Saving Money in Seattle, Washington
You Don't Have to Have Bill Gates Money to Live in Seattle, Really!
by Paul Diamond Blow
I have been living in Seattle, WA for most of my life now. For most of that time I got by on less than $20,000 a year, and I've learned to get by by becoming a professional tightwad. You see, I don't like spending money. I like to save it, watch it grow, lay it out on my bed and roll around in it naked. You get the point... Even now that I've "moved on up" I still stick with my tight wad ways, because I like it, baby! Seattle is indeed an expensive city to live in these days, heck, we have the highest gas prices in the nation and housing costs are out of this world! But here's how to save a few bucks and get by:
1) Cheap Housing: I don't have many tips in this area, you really have to get lucky these days to find a nice affordable place to live in Seattle. You can forget about buying a house in Seattle these days unless you're making the mega bucks. Rental prices are pretty dang high also, but if you're looking for the least expensive neighborhoods for renting a pad I suggest the Ballard neighborhood, which still has semi-affordable prices on apartments and has everything you need within walking distance (restaurants, shops, grocery stores, movie theatre, bars, etc., etc.). Stay away from Capital Hill, rents there are sky high!
2) Free internet access: If you live in Seattle you can take advantage of Nocharge.com, which is a FREE internet access service. It is a dial-up service which connects at average speeds of 45-50 Kbps, has no limits on usage, and BEST of all has NO pop-up ads or advertisements of any kind! How do they make money?? I have no idea, except that they do charge a $10.00 fee if you ever need tech support, but I've never had to do that myself. I've been using Nocharge for years now, and it's been very reliable. I recommend it highly.
3) Free Movies at the library: I myself do not have cable TV and I use my television set only for watching movies. I don't rent or buy movies either, I go to the public library for my DVD and VHS movies which you can check out for two weeks at a time for FREE (with library card of course) and the Seattle public library system has a much better selection of movies than you would think. I go to the library once a week and usually find three or four flicks that I haven't seen before, many of them very recent releases. If you live in Seattle and enjoy watching movies at home, you can now burn your Blockbuster card -- take advantage of the library instead!
4) Three dollar movie theatre: If you prefer to watch your movies in a real theatre, but hate spending ten bucks for a ticket, the Crest Theatre located in Shoreline (165th and 5th N.E.) just outside of the Seattle city limits is a great bargain. The Crest is a mulitplex theatre with four screens and tickets are just three bucks a piece! True, the movies are NOT first run flicks, and the popcorn and soda is the same price as in regular theatres, but if you can wait a month to see a new movie the Crest is the place to go see it on the cheap.
5) Grocery shopping: Safeway grocery stores seem to have the best prices in Seattle (with a Safeway club card) but there is also a unique grocery store called the Grocery Outlet on 130th and Aurora Avenue N. in north Seattle which has discount prices on groceries and other products, many of them off-brand names and discontinued products you'll probably never see in any mainstream grocery store. The prices here are on average 50% lower than what you'd pay any where else. Some of the off-brand products are truly awful (I recommend you stay away from the off-brand name smoked oysters), but there are some very good deals at the Grocery Outlet and the selection of products changes all the time. Here's a few things I recently bought at the Grocery Outlet: a bag of ten crisp and delicious California nectarines for only $1.50; a six-pack of Coca-cola for $1.99; a one pound chub of frozen turkey meat for only 99 cents; a box of six Kellogs Pop-tarts for only $1.49... you get the picture, this place is worth checking out!
6) Save on your cell phone: I personally do not want to pay $40 and up a month (plus tax) on a cell phone, so I've been using T-mobile's prepaid plan which is great for people such as myself who do not spend more than a few minutes a day on their cell-phone. The best way to utilize this prepaid plan is to first buy one of their prepaid phones from the T-mobile website (which very often come with a free $25.00 card) and then purchase the T-mobile $100.00 refill card which gives you 1000 minutes of time and does not expire for a full year. You can of course purchase cheaper cards ($25.00 or $50.00 cards) but once you've spent $100 on refills you achieve "gold" status, which means your minutes do not expire for a full year plus you get an additional 15% bonus minutes on all refills after you've achieved "gold" status. My first year with T-mobile I bought the $100 card which lasted me the entire year with minutes left over; the second year I purchased a $50.00 card which lasted me the entire year; and now in my third year I just bought a $25.00 card which with the minutes that have rolled over should last me most of this year. That's right -- my average cell phone bill is about five dollars a month -- with no added taxes or contracts to sign! Plus the service is great.
7) Community centers: Seattle has many community centers where there are tons of activities and classes for all ages one can take part in for a very nominal fee -- sometimes even free! Classes offered at Seattle's community centers include martial arts, yoga, arts and crafts classes, swimming classes, music classes, dance classes, fencing, gymnastics, aerobics, tai chi, first aid and safety, and many, many more. I personally have taken tae kwon doe, karate, kung fu and tai chi classes at several different community centers in Seattle and the average fee for a twice a week class is around $40-$60 for a ten week quarter.
There you go -- secret money saving tips that can indeed help you save money when living in beautiful Seattle, WA. Feel free to pass them on to other tightwads as you wish!Enjoy this article? Buy Paul Diamond Blow's new book Tales From Outer Space