Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Movies in Manhattan this Summer (2009)

The June '09 issue of Time Out New York Kids showed up the other day, and the issue is fantastic. Lots of great articles and lots of FREE stuff to do this summer. Below are a list of places to get your cine fix.

The last movie JC and I saw together in the theater was Wall-E (matinee, natch), so as former movie regulars, we're looking forward to some free entertainment this summer.

Summer 2009 Free Movie Schedule

Thursdays at
Clearview Cinemas
Kids' Club
Thursdays at 10:30 am July 2nd - August 20th

Sony Wonderlab 500 Madison Ave @ 56th Street
As there are only 73 seats in this hi-def theater, you'll want to call the Monday before to make a reservation (212) 833-7858.
Movies for Adults Saturdays at 2pm
May 30th - Paul Blart: Mall Cop
June 6th - Winged Migration
June 13th - Not Easily Broken
June 27th - GhostBusters

Movies for Kids Saturdays (plus one Thursday) starting at noon
May 30th - Sesame Street: Elmo Visits the Firehouse
June 6th - Elmo & Zoe's Scientific Exploration
June 13th - Dora the Explorer & Go, Diego Go! (Double Feature)
June 18th (Thursday) - Elmo's World: Wild Wild West
June 27th - Sesame Street: Zoe's Dance Moves

HBO Series at Bryant Park Not really family entertainment, but I used to love this series regardless of what's on the screen. Bring a blanket, a couple of bottles of wine, and bribe your slacker friend to get there and nab a spot at 5pm (when the lawn officially opens for the screenings). Bring a friend from out of town, and they'll remember it for life.
June 15th - The Sting
June 22nd - Breaking Away
June 29th - Gold Diggers of 1933
July 6th - Dog Day Afternoon
July 13th - How Green was My Valley
July 20th - Harold and Maude
July 27th - The Defiant Ones
August 3rd - Kramer vs. Kramer
August 10th - The Magnificent Seven
August 17th - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Hudson River Park - River flicks (for Kids and Grown-Ups) Even as partial as I am to Bryant Park, the films chosen for River Flicks are (IMHO) just more fun. :) I've never been, but I imagine watching a movie on the edge of the Hudson has to be incredibly peaceful. Movies begin at dusk. Seating is available (but we'd bring a blanket just in case). Free popcorn. Beverages and Snacks are for sale.

RiverFlicks for Kids (Fridays)
Pier 46 at Charles St.
July 10 - Wizard of Oz (G)
July 17 - Kung Fu Panda (PG)
July 24 - Ghostbusters (PG)
July 31 - Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG)
August 7 - Muppet Movie (G)
August 14 - Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG)
August 21 - Curious George (G)

RiverFlicks for Grown Ups (Wednesdays)
Pier 54 at 14th St.
July 8 - Iron Man (PG13)
July 15 - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (PG13)
July 22 - The Dark Knight (PG13)
July 29 - Hancock (PG13)
August 5 - Tropic Thunder (R)
August 12 - Sex and the City: The Movie (R)
August 19 - Pineapple Express (R)

Regal Entertainment Group's Free Family Film Festival

Every Tuesday and Wednesday select Regal Theaters offer free movies at 10am. There's only 1 location in Manhattan but several Regal Theaters in Brooklyn and Queens
are offering these free movies as well. It's so nice that the theaters offer a choice of movies... so nice you may have to go both days. =)

Battery Park Stadium 11
, 102 North End Ave. 212-945-4370
June 30th & July 1st - Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Veggie Tale Movie (G) & Inkheart (PG)
July 7 th & July 8th - Clifford (G) & Evan Almighty (PG)
July 14 th & July 15th - The Tale Of Despereaux (G) & Barnyard (PG)
July 21 st & July 22nd - Charlotte's Web (G) & Star Wars: Clone Wars (PG)
July 28 th & July 29th - Horton Hears A Who (G) & Spiderwick Chronicles (PG)
August 4 th & August 5th - Polar Express (G) & Kung Fu Panda (PG)
August 11 th & August 12th - Wallace And Gromit (G) & Surf's Up (PG)
August 18 th & August 19th - Mr. Bean's Holiday (G) & Firehouse Dog (PG)
August 25 th & August 26th - Space Chimps (G) & Nim's Island (PG)

Kid's flicks at Maclaren

According to TONY Kids, the Maclaren showroom in Soho (150 Wooster Street, 212-677-2700) will be showing kids movies (e.g. Kung Fu Panda, etc.) on Wednesdays 11-2. I can't find anything about it online, so I'd call for info if that's a desireable spot for you. It's worth noting that the space is quite intimate from what I recall.

So that's what we've got for Summer 2009 Free Movies. If you hear of any not listed here, please add it to the comments!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eating out for $2 IS Possible... who knew?

Columbia's burger - delicious and the fries were made right on the spot. Oh, so good!

Last month I saw a deal on dealhack that got me curious. I'd heard of restaurant.com before and how you could get a $25 gift certificate for $10, but dealhack had an 80% off code for the site. That meant a $25 gc for $2!?! I decided to take a look. There were tons of restaurants in our area that were offering gift cards, but there were SO many restrictions. Then I found one neighborhood restaurant without restrictions: Roth's Steakhouse. Columbia had taken me there once for a birthday dinner (pre-Pumpkin) and I remembered it being fantastic. I checked out their menu and we could easily eat lunch or brunch their for $25. I bit. And then I bit again. I ended up getting 4 gift cards. Then I felt buyers regret. What if it didn't work? What if I just wasted $8. Ugh.


We went for brunch. They were pleasantly not busy and we were able to sit outside where Pumpkin could be entertained by the passerby's. They were very kind about us having the gift certificate and were very familiar with it. We did end up spending a little more than $25 gc covered but we wouldn't have needed to. The portions were huge (Pumpkin could have shared with us rather than ordering her the side of grilled asparagus but it was delicious!) and the food was fantastic. We had such a fabulous time and are anxious to use a another of our gift certificates (because of course we still have 3 left).

One of the best ways to get the deals at restaurant.com is to sign up on their site. They send out a lot of emails but the I think the treat of eating out for cheap is worth it. Also, you print out the gift certificate at home so there's no waiting for them to send it to you. Quick, convenient, a guilty pleasure without the guilt... I think we might have to head to Roth's again this weekend. =)

Here's restaurant.com's latest deal:
This ends May 25th 30th (offer extended!), but there's sure to be another offer after that. They seem to restock gc's at the beginning of the month so the best deals can be found towards the end of each month.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Housing Update - meeting the loan counselor, more paperwork, and lessons learned

Did you all know? I feel like we should have known. We had to send in all of our recent financial paperwork, and we did. 6 weeks ago. Of course we'd have to give them all of our updated numbers. Why didn't we think of this ahead of time?

Besides our obvious omission, the meeting with ACORN Housing's loan counselor went well. She threw some numbers around (ones that we can work with), told Columbia what else we needed to bring in and gave us a lot of hope. The meeting also gave us some answers to those nagging questions. We will continue to work with ACORN, at least for now. The benefits they offer (no PMI, help with closing costs, etc) do seem to be worth the hassle. Also, the timing might be perfect. When we give them the newest papers (end of next week, I think) they send our packet to Citibank. Citi gets back to them in 2-3 days with the pre-authorization. That lasts for 90 days. Our lease is up in 4 months. We can always stay here a few extra months if we need to, but it would be nice if that didn't have to happen.

Here are a few things we learned from the meeting about looking good to lenders:
- Credit Cards are Important to Have: While many frugal bloggers sing the praises of cutting up your credit cards, it turns out having credit cards demonstrates responsibility to lenders. As Columbia only has 2 credit cards, we have to show proof of 'soft credit.' Thankfully our phone company and ConEd are willing to send out letters stating that we pay our bills on time.

- Credit Cards are Important to Use: While Columbia and I are longtime users of credit cards, it turns out we only use 1 now. The loan counselor knows this, as does anyone who looks at Columbia's credit report (i.e. the bank). The counselor said that not using a credit card could actually work against us. While having a card demonstrates a companies trust in us, lenders want to know we can use credit responsibly. We are going to purposefully charge on both cards each month from now on.

- Don't Cancel that Overdraft Protection, Just Make Sure You Don't Use It: Columbia and I were not on top of our finances a few months ago, and didn't transfer money to the checking account (from our high-yield savings) when we needed to. Overdraft kicked in. In the past it had not been a problem when this happened, but our bank charged us this time. Everyone's trying to earn as much as possible in this economy, I guess. We decided to cancel overdraft and be vigilant about watching our account balances (setting up reminders to do so on our Google calendar). If we could have turned back time... Overdraft protection is another form of credit and would have worked in our favor.

- It's Important to Check your Credit Reports: While Columbia has an awesome credit score (yea honey!) we didn't actually know the number until he went to the meeting. It would have been nice to be prepared. Also, there's an address on one of the reports that is inaccurate. Columbia needs to have that removed. There could have been other inaccurate information on the report that could have weighed against us. Periodically checking your credit report is not only wise, but free. Our goal will be to check every 6 months.

We have more work to do, but we also have a lot of hope. It seems like we are headed in the right direction to be home owners. The biggest challenge now seems to be not getting caught up in looking for apartments online - incase the bank's numbers are different from the loan counselor's. Oh, Street Easy, you do know how to tempt a person...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Housing Update - the big wait is over... at least for now

We'd told you that Columbia went to an informational seminar with ACORN Housing in February. Our union has an agreement with the non-profit that makes going through ACORN's house buying program financially beneficial if you qualify (which we do). However, the process has not been especially expedient.

- February 10th: Columbia attends ACORN's mandatory information session, which was very informative and allowed for Columbia to ask a lot of questions.
- April 2nd: We mailed ACORN a detailed history of every purchase we have ever thought of making since the day of conception. In all seriousness, it's a lot of paperwork. We waited so long because Columbia got another raise that showed up on March 16th's paycheck and because we wanted our tax return to be in our bank account. At the February meeting, Columbia was told to expect a phone call about 2 weeks after ACORN received the intake packet.
- April 4th: ACORN received our paperwork. We paid for tracking. We didn't want to risk all of that paperwork getting lost in the mail.
- Then began the phone calls. Columbia's. The poor guy kept calling, and calling and calling. He left a dozen messages and never got anywhere.
- April 30th: Columbia calls again and explains to the receptionist how long the paperwork has been there and that he can't get anyone to return his calls. The person responsible for processing paperwork then takes Columbia's call. She explains that they have been working on a grant proposal and apologizes for the inconvenience. She said that she hoped to process our paperwork and call us back tomorrow (which would have been May 1st).
- May 12th: Columbia calls ACORN again and explains our saga to the receptionist, including the fact that this agency has had all sorts of personal information for 6 weeks and has not contacted us to discuss it. We received a call back within an hour informing us that our paperwork had been processed and we had been assigned a loan counselor.
- May 13th: Columbia calls the loan counselor and leaves a message (I begin this post...).
- May 14th: Columbia finds the email address for our loan counselor - the man's a sleuth! He decides not to write on a Thursday night as we think they may not work on Fridays and he doesn't want the email to get lost in the cluster of weekend emails.
- May 18th: Columbia calls and emails the loan counselor, asking her to call him.
- May 19th: Columbia gets a call from the loan counselor at ACORN and sets up an appointment for... May 20th - TOMORROW!

He scheduled it for after work and mentioned he may bring his wife and daughter with him. The counselor didn't seem thrilled. I would love to be there, and Pumpkin is very well behaved for a 14 month old, but... We'll decide tonight.

We are hoping tomorrow will bring us big answers... especially the amount of the loan for which we are eligible. The bigger answers might be 1) Should we continue to try to work with ACORN? and 2) Are the benefits from going through their process worth the hassle? I would also be happy to know if I can finally start making plans for this summer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thank You ConEd Solutions, we will GLADLY pay you less for green energy

While Columbia has posted on our decision to choose green energy, and last years rise in cost, I am THRILLED to report that even ConEd's green users are now paying less! While there have been numerous reports that ConEd customers will actually be paying less this summer, we weren't sure how that would effect those who chose one of their green options for fuel. Then came the glorious letter:

"ConEdison Solutions is offering you GREEN Power at a fixed price of 11.90 cents per kilowatt-hour, excluding sales tax. This price will be in effect for a 12-month period beginning on your meter rea date for June 2009..."


We have currently been paying 18.000000000000002¢/kWh and we can't wait for the break in our electric bill. We'll let you know what the actual difference is - while not the 60% from kWh price once all of the other add-ons are tallied it will hopefully be a significant change.