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Today was by far one of our best days if not the best day in NYC so far. We started off kind of late, choosing to sleep in since we knew we’d have a relative late night. We did the most quintessential thing you can do in New York… Broadway! Then we went to our favorite part of Manhattan… Harlem and at the famous soul food restaurant Sylvia’s. Finally, we ended the evening at the Apollo, which was an amazing experience. But the best part of it all was doing it all without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for plays and performances in NYC:

1) Broadway on a Budget. Finding reasonably priced Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets really isn’t that difficult, even if you are not military. First, let me define “Broadway” v. “Off-Broadway.” I heard a woman say she didn’t want and off-Broadway show because they’re amateurs. Not true! Broadway v. Off- Broadway has very little to do with the caliber of the performance or its location (there are off-Broadway shows on the street known as “Broadway”). In practical terms the difference between the two is the seat capacity of the theater in which the performance takes place. Broadway theaters all have at least 500 seats, while Off-Broadway theaters have 100 to 499 seats. Theaters with 99 and below are considered Off Off- Broadway. There are few exceptions to this rule and only Broadway shows are eligible for Tony Awards, but that’s the most important difference for the lay person.

With that said there are a few great resources for cheap tickets to live shows. First the USO for military travelers. They often have tickets to free shows and/ or access to discount codes you can use for tickets. While we were in NYC we watched the musical Trip of Love courtesy of the USO.  The tickets range from $45-107. We were in the $107 section which is Front Orchestra and our tickets were FREE! We also received free tickets to a sketch comedy show free, but the theater had a 2 drink minimum. Still, both great deals and greatly appreciated.

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Next, is the TKTS booth run by the Theater Development Fund. Same day and next-day matinee tickets are made available at a 40-50% off discount. The website is a live-action website so you always know exactly which tickets are available.  

I was told to prepare to stand in line for an hour to 2 hours, but the trick is to go to one of the two booths outside Time Square. I went to the one near Battery Park and spent maybe 15 minutes in line and received my first choice of tickets. We chose the matinee so we wouldn’t have to change plans for that day. We saw The Color Purple and it was truly transformative. I’ve read the book, watched the movie, and seen the musical. But this particular Broadway performance was amazing!

    

Finally, a little know tip about theaters is that they like to fill there seats. Artists hate performing to empty chairs. So if you know what you want to see, check the TKTS website, because if they are selling tickets, that means there are empty seats. Then wait until about 15 minutes before the performance walk up to the ticket counter. They will often sell the tickets for even steeper discounts that the TKTS booth and you avoid the fees. If you have a student ID they have $25 last minute tickets at some theaters and some even do military discount, but the TKTS rate is usually better than the military discount.

2) Beyond Broadway.  There are also other performance beyond Broadway. I already mentioned the sketch comedy. But go outside the traditional tourist activities. We went to the Apollo for Amateur Night.
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The historic theater goes out of its way to make sure you get your money’s worth. Regular priced tickets range from $20-33 dollars, so its a good deal no matter what. However their student and military discount tickets are probably the best deal I saw in NYC. $12 dollars gets you the best seats they have open with ID. We sat in the second row, so seats that should have costs us $66 total, for two people, were $24. For that price we got a lively pre-show with great music, a hilarious DJ and MC, and interactive dancing and fun. Then they always have a musical guest who is a great profession and often a recognizable face. The night we went Deborah Cox was the performer and as lover of 90’s music that was a big deal for me. We were even able to meet her and get autographs during the intermission. IMG_0383 It was nice knowing you could be viewing the next big artist with the amateur performers. Let me tell you, most performers may not have made it big yet, but they are anything but second rate. The performances were amazing and even when they weren’t we had the fun of “booing” people of stage in the tradition of the Apollo As they say, “Be good or be gone!”

Movies and more. If movies are more your style, then the New York Parks offers free movie night just about every day of the week and at several different parks. The one I was interested in was the HBO movie series at Byrant Park every Monday, but they have just about every genre and kid-friendly nights as well. Pack food and a blanket and have fun.

We didn’t attend, but there is also a free concert series and theater series through New York Parks.

3. Other Discount Venders. There are also websites that have tickets allotted specifically for military and vets, such as: VetTix; GovX; and Veterans Advantage

We signed up for one before our trip but they didn’t seem to have tickets to any major attractions, rather minor league baseball and small venue rock concerts, but it’s always worth a shot.

All in all, we had a great time and there’s even more tips to come…

 

 



We are on our 30 day leave in between South Korea and our next base. Yay!!! These next thirty days are going to be whirlwind. We plan to visit my family, his family, New York for our anniversary, and finally road trip to the next duty station. Yep, we’re crazy. LOL

  1. Airplane Tickets. Anyways the first big stop on our tour is New York. We found cheap seats to NY on travelocity.com and booked to red eyes to NY for less than $650. We were pretty flexible with our dates and times so that helped. From the airport we took the subway to our hotel. A little note about the subway. I read online that Military ID holders can receive 25% of off passes if you buy them from an MTA office. But the clerk there said there was no such thing, but did say showing ID would let you on buses and subways free. This seems like a big hassle because we would have to stand in a long line in front of the MTA counter, then show our ID and then the clerk would push a button to let us in free. I’ll probably ask a couple more people to make sure this guy knows what he’s talking about.
  2.  Accommodations. Then because we are military we booked rooms at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines, & Airmen’s Club. It’s an old hostel for service members turned hostel for service members and dependents. The accommodations are spectacular but the draw is that they are located on Lexington Ave. and within walking distance of midtown Manhattan. The price is also a draw $130-$165 for a room. Just don’t expect a smiling staff or warm and fuzzy feelings. But considering the next closest hotel runs about$400 a night and we don’t plan to spend much time in the room anyways, it’s a good deal for us.
  3. Manhattan USO. We flew in to the JFK airport and attempted to visit their USO, but it was locked and no one seemed to be scheduled to man the facility. It’s a shame because a few people came by looking for assistance. However, I did find the best help at the Manhatten USO which is located a couple blocks from time square in the Port Authority Building on the second floor (43 Street & 8th Ave.). They have free tickets to shows, discounts on tours, helpful tips from New Yorkers. We met the sweetest woman named Emma and she was amazing, telling us how to get places free, and where the best discounts were. It’s almost too much to describe. So here is a link to them and they have an entire booklet of discounts offered for Active Duty ID holders. Here is a link to the discount booklet.

 

 

 



{June 13, 2016}   Military Spouse: PCS Packing

It seems like just yesterday, I was moving 6,000 miles from home to with my hubby in a foreign land. And now here we go again… Tis the military wife life. The first time, hubby and I were moving from two separate locations, so this is our first office PCS together. I’m excited yet daunted. Per everything military nothing is happening on time and yet our deadlines are quickly approaching. We are a month out and no official orders, what this means in terms of moving is that no movers can be scheduled, no housing can be arranged, no plane tickets can be secured, no storage drop of dates can be planned. So in the mean time, I will organize my house so that no junk is moved back across the world. Welcome to my PCS packing….

Packing System

  1. Massive Shredding Project – I am working my way through all of my files to shred repetitive and unnecessary documents. I’m throwing out old bills, junk mail, and anything that I won’t need for taxes in the future. This graphic from H&R Block is my guide right now.
  2. Military Files – My husband has nearly two decades of documents. I quickly learned that me asking him to pare it down was not working (he’s been planning on doing it since September). Instead I went through them in sessions and left piles labeled by topics across the living room floor. One, my husband doesn’t like a mess so piles of paper across the floor had to be dealt with. Second, my husband doesn’t like his military documents out in the open, much less on the floor. For about three evenings he came home and sorted and shredded his papers. Each evening he came home a new set of piles was waiting. It was tedious on my part, but I am determined not to move back to the states with the same cluttered boxes of paper he came with.
  3. Filing System – In the midst of the shredding project and any paperwork save by my husband I revamped our filing system by buying portable filing cabinets, colored files and using a filing system designed just for us.
  4. Memories & Art – While I’m at it I am organizing postcards, stickers, magazine cutouts, and digital pictures that represent our time here. I am trying to make a memory book for each year to journal our life together. I also am keeping memory boxes for those sentimental things that just can’t be scanned and uploaded.
  5. Small electronics – Items such as our roku, apple tv, gps, etc. we will need before our home goods shipment arrives so I didn’t want the movers to pack them. I used an old box to store them until I packed them our suitcases, so they were in one spot. Then I used quart and gallon size plastic sandwich bags to keep all cords, remotes, and gadgets together. I labeled each bag. If we still had the box I put them inside the boxes. I also labeled all the remotes and cords so that if they were separated I knew instantly which gadget the item belonged to.
  6. Clothes-  Today I removed all of the clothes from my side of the closet. I separated them into summer, winter, workout, and other. Then I divide my summer and winter clothes into casual and professional. From there I reviewed each item for holes, wear and tear, and general unpresentable features. I then made a pile on the floor of everything that was going to good will. Everything else I organized and put back in my closet. Summer clothes in one section to be pack in the carry on (it will take home goods about 2 months to get to us so I need all my clothes for the season). Winter clothes were place in another section to be bagged and prepared for TMO to pick up.  I then marked on a Goodwill tax form everything I was donating. Now my tax form is already prepared and my closet is cleaned out. And I have an accurate record of what I donated.  I did the same with workout clothes and later hubby’s clothes.
  1. Shoes –  Anything worn or damaged went into the donate pile and then was recorded on the Goodwill tax form. Anything with a shoe that was a duplicate or too similar in style and color also went into the donate pile.
  2. Kitchen- I separated unopened or gently used dry goods and spices to be donated to a local ministry that feeds a large number of people regularly. I also developed my dinner menus to reflect the perishable goods in my fridge and freezer about a month ahead of time. Anything leftover I also set aside to be donated. Then I decided on a few pots, pans, and dinnerware to keep aside, just in case our household goods weren’t delivered for a few weeks. I don’t want to be in a position where I have to buy everything because we are without kitchen supplies for several weeks. Also when we packed our suitcases I designated one just for household supplies we would need such as: kitchen supplies, a bathroom supplies, two sets of towels for each of us, computers and electronics we would want right away (roku, dvd player, extension cords).
  3. Bathroom- About a month in advance I stopped buying large amounts of my favorite items. Then we switched to the large supply of hotel shampoos, lotions, and soaps, I have collected over time. I also put them in our travel toiletry bags and made an airport toiletry bag since we spend about 15 hours in route from South Korea. In the checked household suitcase I put anything I thought we would need for a few weeks. I only added it if we already had it, this was to avoid throwing it out. Things like toilet paper I didn’t pack, its easy to get that. But special hair products (since we are moving to a rural area), skin care products, towels, sheets, a blanket, and a couple pillows.
  4. Vacation- Because we are taking our vacation on our way to our new base (this is called leave-in-route) we packed a separate bag just for the trip so the other larger bags don’t have to be riffled through while we are traveling. We are landing in Seattle and then leaving most of our bags with my parents. Then we are traveling to New York for our vacation. We will return to spend sometime with family, reusing our vacation clothes and the collect our car which my parents have graciously stored for us and finish our move to our new base.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of how to do a OCONUS to CONUS move, but these are the specific highlights of what we did in the packing process to make it easier for ourselves. I hope it helps.I have all of the resources I used for this move here: https://www.pinterest.com/carynragin/pcs-to-conus/

 

 

 



et cetera