Seems like this Great Recession thing is dragging on forever, doesn't it? Just this week, the New York Times ran a story about herds of 30-year-olds with full-time jobs having to move back in with their parents (shudder). Take a deep breath and relax. We here at The Stranger are used to working in a dying industry, and we've pooled our collective cheapskate wisdom on living with little or no cash: How to Get By (full of tips on making extra money), How to Have Fun for Free or Nearly Free (here), How to Eat if You Have No Money (here), and How to Calm Down (here). You're gonna be just fine.
How to Get a Job with the Census
Need work? Desperately? How does $17 an hour sound? The Constitution demands that the U.S. government has to count every citizen every 10 years, which means that every 10 years the government is looking for a bunch of people to give $17-an-hour jobs to for a little while. The first thing you have to do is call the Census Jobs Line: 866-861-2010. They'll give you information about how to apply and where to go to take a test to determine your worthiness for census work. Former census workers generally give three pieces of advice: (1) Take the practice Census test online before you do the real thing (www.2010.census.gov), (2) remember to bring your ID and a couple of pencils to the test, and (3) when they call after you ace the test, always say "yes" to assignments (the U.S. government doesn't like to hear "maybe" from people they're trying to give $17-an-hour jobs to).
How to Make Money off Marrying an Immigrant
A green card is one way to make some easy money. The black market value for American citizenship is $15,000 to $25,000 (usually $15,000), and the marriage takes two to three years (usually three). The payment can be handled in two ways: (1) You can get half up front and the rest when the green card is obtained, or (2) you can get monthly payments during the course of the marriage (this is preferable—a constant, steady reminder of why you made this decision). Though easy, this way of making money is not entirely hassle-free. You and your platonic (business) partner have to jointly file taxes, open a joint banking account, and share a lease to prove that you are living together (something that married couples usually do). Another difficulty: You can't use Craigslist or some other website to find or make an offer. Everything except the marriage itself has to be done off the records and on the streets. Go to restaurants and bars where immigrants hang out. Ask your cab driver about his family and whether anyone he knows needs any help. Go to soccer games—immigrants love soccer. And remember: shhhh! If you get caught in a sham marriage, the penalty is very high (up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine for you, deportation for your business partner).
How to Sell Your Hair
Do you possess tens of inches of lustrous, unadulterated human hair? How would you like to turn that into tens of hundreds of lustrous, unadulterated human BUCKS? Wigmakers, artists, and dirty, filthy perverts are totally dying to buy your hair (which your head produces for free—so ka-chinggg!). Here's what you have to do: Don't cut your hair for as long as possible. You need at least 10 inches. Don't dye your hair, or perm or bleach or treat it in any way. Try not to smoke or do drugs, because those can make your hair janky. When your hair is long enough, take some pics of it lookin' all shiny and thick and post them at www.thehairtrader.com, which is like the eBay of hair (featuring such creepy descriptors as "14 yr olds Virgin Golden Hair"). Depending on the length, color, and awesomeness of your offering, you can make anywhere between $100 and $3,000. Plus, you get to sleep tight with the knowledge that somewhere some dude is rubbing your hair on his genitals.
How to Sell Other Parts of Your Body (Without Selling Yourself for Sex)
We have it on good authority—well, the authority of a performance artist—that while selling your body temporarily to medical researchers sounds terrifying, it is mostly "boring and just involves a lot of blood draws." Charles River Clinical Services Northwest in Tacoma (3615 Pacific Ave, 877-NW-STUDY) is the local epicenter, with several tests going on at all times. Right now, a healthy male can earn $900 for committing to a five-night stay—during which time you can rent out your apartment! (Single blood draws bring you $50.) Other parts? Blood plasma ($20 to $50 each time, Biomat USA, 7726 15th Ave NW, 782-6675; don't bother if you're a sexually active man who has sex with men), sperm ($60 to $100 per shot, Seattle Sperm Bank, 4915 25th Ave NE, Suite 204, 588-1484), eggs (up to $5,500, www.overlakereproductivehealth .com). And just watch the classifieds. Every disease/condition/habit you've ever had or not had (yet) might be your ticket to at least a few free meals.
How to Sell Yourself for Sex
If you are not so ugly that you frighten children, and you have a few brain cells to bang together, you can make a quick buck renting out your body. A few tips: Stay off Craigslist, unless you're a homeless junkie and arrest and assault are already everyday risks. Post ads on escort-review boards that cater to your niche. If someone scares you, don't take the date. If you're already there and they scare you, drop the money and run. (If you keep the cash, you will probably be chased.) If you're too precious to swap your ass for cash, then don't. But forget any clever notions about how you'll get the money without actually giving up the goods. Bend over, open your mouth, get it up—whatever the job description is, just do it (safely). If you're only turning the occasional trick, the odds of being arrested are extremely small. Don't blab it all over bars and don't piss off your neighbors, and you'll never see the inside of a cell. However, if you're afraid you're in the room with a cop, don't speak of or accept money. It's better to give one away for free than get stuck with a charge.
How to Become a Peep Show Dancer
Young? Pretty? Lithe? Not too shy to disrobe in front of strangers? You could find work at a peep show. "Gypsy," who has been dancing at the Lusty Lady for an undisclosed number of years, explained the process to us: (1) Be at least 18 and comfortable with your body. Take a few dance classes if you need to. (Just your luck: Velocity Dance Center on Capitol Hill is offering free classes from March 28 to April 3, including hiphop and "bottom-heavy funk.") (2) Be prepared to fill out the lengthy application that is the peep show's first line of defense against flakes, crazies, and troublemakers. (3) Familiarize yourself with the venue so you'll be more comfortable during the interview and the audition. (4) Wear heels to your audition, make lots of eye contact, and smile, smile, smile. Don't roll around on the floor too much. Once you get the job: Always be 20 minutes early for your shift, stay healthy, maintain a happy demeanor, don't steal, keep your vices off-site, and always be honest. "If you oversleep for your shift, for example, it's better to cop to it," Gypsy says. "If you make up some grandiose story, you'll be fired on the spot. My manager has seen it all and done it all, and she can read bullshit from the next state over."
How to Sell Your Used Underwear
You can still take advantage of the lucrative sex industry, even if you're too shy for stripping, porn, or prostitution—by selling your dirty underwear! What's the harm? Websites like www.pantylocker.com and www.naughty bids.com allow you to set up eBay-style auctions for your worn unmentionables, some earning up to $30 a pop.
How to Make Money off YouTube
Do you have a kid whom you could take to the dentist and get jacked up on drugs, then videotape in a narcotic stupor in the backseat of your car? Or maybe a cat you could plop down in front of a keyboard? If you had videos of either, you'd be about $40,000 and $25,000 dollars richer, respectively. Not just from your T-shirt sales, licensing agreements, and iPhone apps, but from YouTube Inc. See, if you post a viral video, you'll get a cheery e-mail from YouTube HQ that says "Congratulations on the success of your video! It's popular! You're eligible for the YouTube Partnership Program!" If your video meets YT's guidelines and doesn't have copyright issues, YouTube will start running advertisements with it and give you a cut of the revenue. So c'mon! You MUST have a minor or a pet you can exploit.
How to Grow (and Sell) Pot
"People call it 'weed,' you see, because it grows like a weed." Bull-fucking-shit. Marijuana grows in warm climates that cannot—by any organism with a nervous system—be confused with the Pacific Northwest. Our pot must be grown inside, laboriously tended to like a cancerous baby. If you want to try it, go right ahead (not that we're telling you to grow pot because that would be illegal). Anyone with an internet connection can get ample advice on YouTube and tons of websites. Three tenets: Get real grow lights (not a dim fluorescent tube or heat lamp), make sure your exhaust doesn't stink up your neighbors (they hate the smell and you hate jail), and don't grow more than 99 plants (or your prosecution could be federal). If you want to sell someone else's pot and make some money (not that we'd advise it): Find someone who sells good pot in large quantities, break it up into eighths of an ounce, and sell only to your friends. Give people good deals and don't run your fucking mouth.
How to Make Money off Getting Hit by a Car
Getting hit by a car doesn't take much planning. Get on a bike, strap on a helmet, obey all traffic laws, and eventually you will be hit by a car. Here's what you do next: bleed. A lot. While you wait for the ambulance, try to gather contact info from witnesses or invite them to throw their business cards on your broke and bleeding body. Get the driver's insurance information. Make sure there is a police report. Keep bleeding. Accept the ambulance ride. (Don't ever say "no" to a free ambulance ride, even if you think you're fine. Tomorrow you will not feel fine, so let a doctor examine you. She'll be able to give you a recovery time line and inform you of potential lasting health problems. It'll increase your settlement.) Document everything—broken bones, broken bike, broken cell phone, broken teeth, lost time at work, etc. Get a lawyer if you want, but you don't need one—the driver's insurance company should offer you a settlement once your recovery is complete.
Where to Get Medical Care
If you're broke, have no health insurance, and feel that things are going seriously wrong with your body, the place to go is Country Doctor. Sure, you can try showing up at an emergency room (potentially costly to you or, in the end, taxpayers) or you can head to some other low-cost clinic, but the truth is that Country Doctor (www.countrydoctor .org, 299-1600), with offices on Capitol Hill and in the Central District, is the best, most decent, and most nonterrifying place to show up. As long as you can make the $15 up-front payment—and, if you're suuuper broke, you might not even have to pay that—you can be seen by a caring medical professional whose pay is funded entirely by grants and private donations. But if your problem is simply that you're poor and bored and following our "Just have more sex!" advice and you've wound up with some trouble on (or in) your sexy bits, there's another good option: Harborview, where King County runs a public STD clinic that will test and treat you for free if you qualify. Call 744-3590 to make an appointment.
Where to Get Dental Care
Need work done on your teeth but got next to nothing in the bank? The best place to go is the UW School of Dentistry (Magnuson Health Sciences Building, UW Campus, 616-6996). Granted, the dentists are practically kids—boys and girls who have not yet completed their education. But at least they are enthusiastic, friendly, and eager to pass the course, get a degree, and make a killing from the expensive art of fixing broken teeth. And besides, if the students are so inexperienced, why is there such a long fucking waiting line to get into the clinic? Really, there is no opening there until June! We are in March! And the clinic won't put a new name on the list until May! This is the real deal, for real. Though the fillings go for cheap, $120, the best bargain at the clinic are the root canals—$300 for a front tooth, $500 for a molar (at a regular place, it's $750 for a front tooth and $1,000 for a molar). If you can't afford that, you can get a bad tooth pulled out for $90. If that is too expensive, well, the UW School of Dentistry can do nothing for you, man.
How to Keep the Lights On If They Shut Off Your Power
A couple of years ago, Annex Theatre staged a play called Keep the Light On, which used human power to generate all the lighting. Local guy Max Reichlin designed and built electricity-generating bikes—well, not really bikes, but bikelike things using bike parts—and he's not even an engineer. "I just have a BA in theater, that's all," he says. "I didn't know anything about making electricity when I started. If I can do it, most folks can do it. There's totally enough information on the internet—just Google 'pedal-powered prime mover.'" The parts for each bikelike thing ran him $100 to $150, and average riders made about 100 watts, enough to power household lighting while riding. "The money you save on electricity is really about efficiencies it forces you to endure." Plus, exercise.
How to Keep the Lights On If You Can't Figure Out the Bike-Powered Lights Thing
If you can't pay your bills and your household is at or below 70 percent of the state's median income (i.e., if you make less than $2,380 per month for a one-person household or $3,112 for two people), call the Seattle Human Services Department at 684-0268 to save 50 percent on your electric, water, sewer, and garbage bills. (Residents of federally subsidized public housing and Section 8 housing are not eligible.) Go here for more information: www.seattle.gov/light/accounts/assistance. And if you're a poor homeowner or own an apartment building full of poor tenants, you might qualify to receive free weatherization services—such as attic and wall insulation, window caulking, furnace repair, and pipe wrapping to prevent freezing—from the Office of Housing's Weatherization Program. These services help you conserve energy and save money on utility bills. To find out if you're eligible, go here: www .seattle.gov/housing/HomeWise/limits.htm
How to Get Extended Unemployment
If you've just been shit-canned or are worried you might be soon, you can learn everything you need to know about how to sign up for unemployment benefits by reading our last Economic Survival Guide (thestranger .com/yourmoney09). For this here Economic Survival Guide II, for the still-shit-canned and the future-shit-canned-for-a-long-time among our readers, here are a few facts about extended unemployment benefits. Basically, if you successfully sign up for normal unemployment benefits, which are paid by the State of Washington and usually last you about 26 weeks, you'll be rolled straight into the federal government's "emergency unemployment compensation" program (53 more weeks) and then "extended benefits" from the feds (20 more weeks) as needed. "It essentially just happens," said Jamie Swift, spokesman for the Employment Security Department. "Once they use up their regular benefits, they move on to the next layer." So make sure everything is straight with your regular benefits, and then, when you're not frantically searching for a job, call your Democratic representatives in Congress and thank them for the extensions—they didn't just magically appear, and there are plenty of conservatives out there who didn't want you to have them.
How to Save Money on Transportation—Get the Free Bus App OneBusAway
Seattle has its very own native bus app—which is totally free—that you can put on your iPhone to tell you when the next bus is coming. (You can also use this service with a normal phone by calling this number: 456-0609.) This solves the primary problem riders face when waiting for our anemic, inadequate, maybe-it-will-arrive-and-maybe-it-won't bus service. Oh, the horror stories. But not with OneBusAway. Users rave about it. It knows where you are—or you can bookmark your regular stop—so it tells you which buses are heading your way, how many minutes until they arrive, and more. Don't take the cab (too expensive), don't drive the car (ditto), don't stay home and cry. Get OneBusAway. (Similar apps that claim to help navigate Metro get shitty reviews.)
How to Make Money off Your Used Vinyl and CDs
You're hungry, and those CDs and LPs aren't providing the sustenance they once did. Seattle has several shops where you can convert your musical artifacts into currency, but as noted in last year's guide, rates paid for said goods are declining. Nevertheless, if you have quality music, you can dine well for a while on your discarded discs and wax. Take your best unwanted vinyl to Jive Time (3506 Fremont Ave N, 632-5483), Wall of Sound (315 E Pine St, 441-9880), or Bop Street (5219 Ballard Ave NW, 297-2232); they will give you relatively high prices. Slightly lower yield can be found at Sonic Boom (Capitol Hill, Ballard), Silver Platters (Queen Anne, Northgate, Bellevue), Everyday Music (1523 10th Ave, 568-3321), and Easy Street (Queen Anne, West Seattle), the last two of which will accept nearly every LP and CD you bring 'em. For the biggest potential haul, you can unload your music at www.discogs .com, www.half.com, and www.ebay.com—but you'll need patience and packing skills.
How to Find Cheap Housewares
Admittedly, the corner of Third Avenue and Pike Street, in the middle of the retail core, is an unexpected place to find a subterranean wonderland of savings. But sure as shit, there in the basement of Ross Dress for Less, you can find every classy thing you need to appoint your kitchen at shockingly low prices. Want two ceramic platters large enough to serve a turkey? Bam: eight bucks. How about 24 highball glasses? Seventeen bucks. And don't get us started on pasta machines ($16), big square Portuguese serving bowls ($6), or heavy, stainless steel, nontacky silverware for 12 that matches ($50). Stock and prices are always changing, but it's only slightly more expensive than the grimy crap from Value Village—and it's new and elegant. More Ross stores are at Northgate, on Aurora, and in Rainier Valley. (Don't think of slave laborers while you shop.)
How to Squat in a Tent on Some Land somewhere if Everything Else Goes to Shit
If you're a panicky sort, you can assuage your fears with some extreme-case preparation. Stock up on those canned beans and bags of rice. Maybe get yourself a fishing pole, a big net (for fish, for birds), and some vegetable seeds. We're not suggesting that you buy a gun because that feels irresponsible (we don't even know you), but if the world really falls apart, it might come in handy. Tents, sleeping bags, and a passing familiarity with our state's national forests might also come in handy. Get to know your local yacht clubs and learn how to hot-wire boats—highways can be closed or severed, but you can always flee on the open sea.
Play Nighttime Dodgeball
Wish you played a sport, but don't have the money for soccer cleats, Rollerblades, or (heaven fucking forbid) snowboarding equipment? The best way to finally get some exercise and work out all that competitive, angsty aggression is to show up at Capitol Hill's Cal Anderson Park on a Tuesday or Friday night. Every week on those nights, from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m., two opposing teams form in the tennis court and proceed to beat the living hell out of each other with a dodgeball. It's free, scrappy, and sexy. Well, sexy until you get hit in the head and 75 or so people point and laugh at you.
Get 100 Percent Free Laughs (Hopefully)
Comedy is great. Jokes are the best. Why not take your mind off your money troubles with some free jokes? For free? The newly renovated People's Republic of Koffee (1718 12th Ave) hosts a weekly open mic every Friday at 8:00 p.m., where Seattle's funniest comics work out their new material in front of a comedy-savvy crowd. And the first Sunday of every month at Capitol Club (414 E Pine St, 325-2149), hilarious gay person Solomon Georgio puts on The Cracked Up!, a casual, drinky showcase of Northwest comics. Cover is zero dollars at the door.
Create Romance at the Library
You have a lot of free time on your hands, as do all the other attractive, unemployed people. What better way to spend your time than exploring Seattle's greatest free resource—the Central Library—where you can check out stacks on your favorite subjects and discreetly cruise for like-minded company? For example, hang out in the 613.96 shelves if you're trolling for sex, 391.65 if you're into tattoos, 741.59 if you're a graphic-book geek, and the 142 area if you'd like to spend your unemployed time staring at the honeydew ass cheeks of college freshmen as they study how to be better existentialists.
Look with Your Eyeballs at Art
Art is cheap. It's the cheapest of the arts. There's a forest of art in this city just waiting for you to look at it—and it does not want your money, just your eyeballs. (Eyeballs: free from the evils of the economy!) To wit: Commercial galleries are always free and open to anyone. Pioneer Square is full of them, and they're scattered around the rest of the city, too (Lawrimore Project in the International District, Francine Seders in Phinney Ridge, Ambach & Rice in Ballard, Ouch My Eye in Sodo). Plus, Seattle's largest art museum—Seattle Art Museum (and its sister, Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park)—has only suggested admission, meaning if you are poor, DON'T PAY and don't feel bad about it. Then there's the Frye Art Museum, which is eternally free, and where parking is also eternally free and abundant. University of Washington's contemporary art museum, Henry Art Gallery, is free on the first Thursday of every month. In art, there is never a need to buy.
Window-Shop (An Activity unto Itself)
During those cash-flush years, shoppers were bound for dressing rooms and cash registers. Everybody beelined past the lovely labors of the window dressers. Now window dressers are getting their due. Have you noticed more people standing at windows just checking things out? It's downright quaint. And it's fun, too. There is never any remorse involved in admiring a display, and displays are everywhere, from the colored glass dildos at Toys in Babeland to the festive tableaux at Nordstrom to the parades of sparkly pedestals at jewelry stores. Window-shopping is not only a perfectly valid thing to do, it is absolutely charming.
Read at the Silent Reading Party
The Sorrento Hotel hosts a free silent-sustained-reading party every other Wednesday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Fireplace Room, known for its wingback chairs and cozy couches and roaring fire, for people who get lonely reading at home. Unlike every other reading-related event, there is no one reading aloud into a microphone at you. You can pass notes to other people if you feel the need to communicate with the sexy person reading a great book nearby; talking very quietly is also fine. In honor of all the sexy people sitting around silently reading (why is that so sexy?), the hotel extends happy hour all night: $4 wells and house wine, snacks from 50¢ to $5. If you want something free and good to read, The Stranger conveniently comes out on Wednesday afternoons. Upcoming reading parties: March 24, April 7, and April 21.
Read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Out Loud at Home
Why pay dozens of bucks to see professional actors when you can make theater at home for free? Scripts of Edward Albee's 1962 masterwork Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are readily available at the Seattle Public Library, and with four copies, four friends, and four bottles of the cheapest gin you can find, you're guaranteed an evening of high drama you'll never forget.
Just Stay In and Have Sex
What's that one thing you've always wanted to do with your sweetheart's body or with your own? Now that you have no job and a limited budget for booze, it's the time for slow stripteases, blindfolding each other for hours, trying every new position you've ever wondered about both together and alone, testing out role-playing, and generally keeping your very few dollars intact by sexing it up at home. We promise: This will be better than the mediocre movie and processed snacks you were considering laying $20 out on, or that consumable whose retail therapy will only last a little while. You'll get exercise, become better at sex, and be more relaxed. Damn, when the economy picks up, you'll have it all.
Play Free Video Games
When you're broke and miserable (or just broke and bored), time is your enemy. It crawls and crawls and laughs at you behind your back and sometimes drinks all the lemonade without going to the store to buy more. Time is a jerk. You must kill time! And the Georgetown Liquor Company (5501B Airport Way S, 763-6764) is here to help with three free video-game consoles: Atari, Super Nintendo, and regular Nintendo. "We've got, like, 150 games, I think," says the lady who picks up the phone at GLC. "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Frogger, all the Super Mario games, PacMan... you name it, we probably got it." The lady on the phone also promises $2 tall boys, $2.50 well drinks at happy hour, half off appetizers from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and "really hearty" sandwiches. Plus, the joint is vegetarian/vegan friendly: "Strong enough for a carnivore, made for a herbivore."
Play Free Nonvideo Games
If you don't have the money for video games, you should do what your dirt-poor geek forefathers did and break out the board games. The employees at Gamma Ray Games (411 E Pine St, 838-9445) are your friendly, helpful guides to a staggering array of games—everything from Dungeons & Dragons to Small World to card games like Gloom. Bonus: You can make an appointment to try the games out for free with friends in their clean, well-lit upstairs game room. On their website (www.gammaraygamestore.com) you'll find a full calendar of open and invite-only events, including several ongoing RPG campaigns and, on every other Friday, a free event called Seattle Alternative Boardgamers, in which aspiring game creators test out their new and rare products on willing guinea pigs.
Play Ping-Pong and/or Pool for Free
You don't even have chump change to put in the pool table? Never fear, loser. You can play FREE pool at the Canterbury (Mondays), Eastlake Zoo (until 5 pm), Pies & Pints, Watertown, and the Waterwheel (Sundays). And if you'd rather knock around a kinder, gentler little white ball, there's also free ping-pong at Jules Maes, Watertown, Loretta's, Roanoke Tavern, and the Twilight Exit. Maybe you can play for drinks, so someone can get your broke ass drunk.
See Shows by Volunteering
Many all-ages spaces around the city need volunteers to help out before, during, and after shows. The Vera Project is perhaps the most notable—to start volunteering, you just need to show up to one of the orientations, which happen the second Thursday of every month. In exchange for sweeping up after the show or selling candy at the concession stand, you get to see bands like Surfer Blood and Deerhoof for free!
Where to Go Out to Eat for Really, Really Cheap
There are lots of cheap places to eat, but if you want so much tasty food for around $6 that you will be in danger of exploding, the inexpensive Asian fooderies will be your friends. Outstanding in the category: Thai Curry Simple (11 am–3 pm, 406 Fifth Ave S, 382-1778), Duk Li Dim Sum (664 S Weller St, 340-6122), Noodle King (522 S King St, 623-3905), and your local pho place. In the area of take-out: Seattle Deli (225 12th Ave S, 328-0106) and Saigon Deli (four locations). Honorable mention: the all-night Indian-food happy hour in the bar at Laadla (234 Fairview Ave N, 223-1980). These places are not fancy, but these people are working hard to make super-cheap food for you: Do not fail to tip 15 percent.
How to Make a Giant Vat of Delicious Mac and Cheese
You have always loved a good cheese sauce—the essence of a good mac and cheese recipe—but probably don't know how to make one. It's easy and cheap. Go ahead, clip this out and post it on your fridge. You will need: five tablespoons of flour, five tablespoons of butter, five cups of warm milk, and a pound of shredded sharp cheddar. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour, stirring over low heat for about five minutes. You don't want this to bubble or brown too much. This cooked flour-and-butter mix makes a roux. Slowly pour in your milk, raising the temperature until the sauce bubbles a bit and thickens. This is called a béchamel. Stir in most of the grated cheese, and add a teaspoon or so of salt. This is called cheese sauce. Mix with al dente pasta—but not too much pasta, because you want lots of sauce—and any other stuff you like in a mac and cheese (ham, onions, tuna, marijuana), and top with bread crumbs and some more cheese. Feel free to double the recipe and eat for a week. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
How to Have Chickens
Do you like eggs? Why not get a machine that makes them, aka a CHICKEN? According to the Seattle Municipal Code, virtually every residence with a backyard is allowed up to three chickens, which means an easy dozen-plus of fresh eggs every week! Both Sustainable Seattle and Seattle Tilth offer workshops on constructing chicken coops, and you couldn't find a greener pet than a chicken, which will eat all your table scraps and turn them into omelet fixins. Also: Chickens are hilarious. Between the complimentary eggs, inspired food-scrap recycling, and free comedy, your little cluckers will totally earn the estimated 20 bucks a month you'll spend on their care. (And when your chickens get too old to lay eggs, just roll out the barbecue.)
How to Find Cheap Produce
The number of places where you can buy cheap produce rivals the number of places where you can buy expensive produce. The best are mostly concentrated in the International District. Here are a few great places to find perfect in-season fruits and vegetables for pennies: Van Produce (913 S Jackson St), Rising Produce and Viet Wah Supermarket (both between 10th Ave S and 12th Ave S), and Hau Hau Market (412 12th Ave S). Top Banana in Ballard (6501 15th Ave NW) and MacPherson's Fruit & Produce (4500 15th Ave S) in Beacon Hill are also cheap and fantastic.
How to Use the Food Bank System
If you're hungry and broke, here's a complete list of every place in Seattle offering free hot meals: www.seattle.gov/humanservices/emergencyservices/HotMealResourceDirectory.pdf. Hungry, broke, and have pets? The Seattle Humane Society runs a pet food-bank program that delivers more than 10,000 pounds of dry and canned pet food every month to food banks, low-income housing complexes, and local senior centers. For a comprehensive list of Food Banks in Seattle: www.seattle.gov/humanservices/emergencyservices/FoodBanksSeattleKingCounty.pdf. Food banks like the White Center Food Bank (Wed–Fri 11 am–1 pm) have dog and cat food available until their weekly supplies run out. Simply find the nearest food bank in your area, show up (early) with proof of residence and a valid ID, and request pet food.
The Best Times to Show Up at Places to Buy Food if You Want a Little Extra
If you want free, unprepared food, go to a food bank (see above); if you want extra prepared food for free, go to a deli or food court just before it closes. The trick almost never fails. Moments before the deli begins removing the day's dishes, you arrive, order a few items, and the server almost unthinkingly packs extra food in your container—for them, it's either that or throwing it away. Only the meanest delis in town will deny you the extra servings. If you do not want to take any risks, go to the food court at Uwajimaya at around 9:30 p.m. (the court closes at 10:00 p.m.). The Chinese express across from Shilla Korean BBQ has a reputation for being generous before closing (for just under $7, your container will bulge with rice and two dishes—roasted duck and a mix of beef and thick noodles). Also there's the Thai Place at the end of the court. There, the exhausted servers pack it to the breaking point—again, for just under $7 bucks. These are tough times, so you need to work it, work it, work it!
How to Find the Very Best Happy Hours
There are hundreds of happy hours in Seattle—how do you know which ones to choose? If you have an iPhone, download The Stranger's Cocktail Compass, a free application that'll tell you the time and location of all the city's happy hours (and which ones are closest to you). If you don't have an iPhone, don't fret, you can still find all the important information at thestranger.com/happyhour, including the 5 Point's $3 deep-fried cheese curds. Yum.
Where You Can Fish Legally in the City
Fresh seafood is expensive, and fer fuck's sake, you live in Seattle. Why not catch your own? A fishing license ($8.18 a day for a saltwater license, $46.20 for an annual combination license) can be purchased at www .fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or in tackle shops and most sporting-goods stores. Downtown Piers 57 through 59 and Pier 86 are open to public fishing. There you can fish for salmon in spring, crab in summer, and squid all winter. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing regulations are here: www.wdfw .wa.gov/fishing. A complete map of public fishing piers in Puget Sound is here: www .wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/piers.
Where to Find Cheap Hamburgers (Even Vegetarian)
Being served a good, hot hamburger can make anyone feel like a millionaire, and Seattle is blessed with places serving quality burgers at bargain-basement prices. In downtown Seattle, there's the divey 5 Point Cafe (415 Cedar St) and the schmancy McCormick & Schmick's (1103 First Ave), both of which offer freakishly discounted burgers during happy hour. At the 5 Point, that means $2.50 cheeseburgers and fries (Mon–Fri 4–6 pm); at McCormick & Schmick's, it means $1.95 cheeseburgers and fries throughout their twisty daily happy hours (Mon–Fri 3–6 pm and 10 pm–midnight, Sat 4–6 pm and 10 pm–12:30 am, Sun 4–6 pm and 9–11 pm). Always cheap: the South Park treasure Loretta's (8617 14th Ave S), where both the Tavern Burger (a cheeseburger with onions and pickles) and the Veggie Tavern Burger (featuring a homemade vegan patty) are always $3.
How to Find Someone on the Internet Who Would Be Happy to Buy You Dinner
Hey, (hetero) women and (penis-having) gays! Did you know that you can sit down at your computer, tick-tack-tick-tack a few little buttons, and a handsome man will come to your house, pick you up, buy you food, and then maybe even have sex with you if you are into that sort of thing, you slut (do it!!!)? This is all true. Now that modern times are upon us, online dating has almost completely shaken off its stigma and its sketchiness. You can date hella people, and if you use your brains, you probably won't even get raped! Match.com casts the widest net, but it's also the most boring—you'll find lots of fratty dudes and military dudes and lonely older dudes along with a few gems. Nerve.com is for people who think they are edgy and are probably into erotic art. The crowd at OkCupid.com is nerdier, but also more normal. Plus, their fancy algorithm will tell you whether your potential date wants to tie you up or be tied up, whether you two agree on gay marriage, and how chivalrous they are (i.e., WILL THEY FINANCE YOUR STEAK?). If you want it to be someone who reads The Stranger, we run two personals sites at thestranger.com—one for romance (Lovelab) and one for slutty and/or kinky times (Lustlab). To find them, click the orange button that says "Personals" at the top of any page. There is literally no reason not to give the internet a shot.
Where to Go for Free Peanuts
Peanuts! Also known as earth nuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts, and pig nuts. But whatever with Wikipedia—the pertinent fact is that they can be had for free in bars throughout Seattle. Where, you would like to know? The Streamline Tavern in lower Queen Anne, Redwood on Capitol Hill, the Triangle Pub in Pioneer Square, Hooverville in Sodo, and the 9 Lb. Hammer in Georgetown, for starters.
How to Get Insanely Cheap Frat Food
Do you like buffalo wings and big greasy hamburgers? And beer? How do you feel about gigantic UW meatyheads? Frightened? Don't be! Sunday nights from 10:00 p.m. on, the Ram in University Village is home to MADNESS, a sort of juiced-up happy hour where everything on your bill is half off. (Including, if you're lucky, maybe some meatyhead's pants! Do it! Slut!!!)
Get a Pet
Pets do cost money, so this may seem counterintuitive. You have to take them to the vet, feed them, and buy them toys and beds and whatnot. But most of those expenses are pretty minimal and the payouts are big. A pet is basically antianxiety medication. (Be careful at the pound, and make sure you hang out with your prospective kitten/cat/puppy/dog to make sure it's the right personality for you—don't adopt the wrong animal and then call it a dick!) People with calm, cute pets have lower blood pressure. And right now, because King County wants to get out of the business of running animal shelters entirely by July 1, adoption fees are being waived on animals at the county pounds (Bellevue: 821 164th Ave NE, 296-3490; Kent: 21615 64th Ave S, 296-7387). It is an animal fire sale.
Get a Foot Massage
Cutting back doesn't mean not getting a massage. It means not getting a full-body massage and instead getting a foot massage. You've seen those reflexology charts, right? The ones that explain that this tiny area on the ball of your foot controls your shoulders, and that one controls your hips... so why would you need your shoulders and hips massaged directly, anyway? A full-body massage will run you $60 and up, but a New Economy, half-hour foot massage is only $15 at Imperial Massage in the International District (900 S Jackson St, 903-0878; an hour-long foot massage is only $30). Strange things may happen: Your feet may be punched (it is pleasant, though funny) and your legs may be dropped onto padded surfaces (just odd), and the massage will, confusingly, begin at your head and shoulders. But roll with it: You're in a darkened room, lying back on a red Barcalounger next to other red Barcaloungers, everybody quietly facing a big TV playing Korean programming. It's hard to beat.
Join the Priesthood
Man, the Catholic Church must be more desperate for recruits than the U.S. military these days: scandals, corruption, parishioners abandoning the church in droves. Luckily for your unemployed self, it's the sweetest deal in town—like the military, but without all the push-ups and roadside bombs. You'll just need to swallow your pride (because pride is a sin!) and enter a disgraced vocation that'll take care of all your earthly needs, wine included. All you'll have to do in return is some reading and some writing, plus occasional advice-dispensing and weekly sermon-delivering. No more rent, no more grocery shopping, and maybe even an assignment in a warm, poor country whose people need a guy like you to hang around and eat their food. Then, of course, there's the vow of celibacy part... but we all know how seriously priests have been taking that for the past thousand years.
If you don't have any, tell your friend who smokes pot that you want to "smoke a bowl" sometime. Offer something cute in exchange for them smoking you out. If you have some pot, share it—tough times out there. If you're already stoned, you don't want to do anything social (too stressful), but you also don't want to just sit there in front of the TV (too depressing). Go to a park, get on your back on the grass, and listen to the xx's self-titled album on your music-listening device. It will feel as if someone's poured Xanax into your veins. Or ride your bike somewhere: Bikes and pot are a beautiful combo, but leave the music-listening device at home (you need to be alert) and wear a helmet.
Have a Cup of Mint Tea
You look troubled, friend. Here—sit down. Take off your shoes and close your eyes for a moment. You know what will make you feel better? A nice cup of mint tea. You call bullshit? You are wrong. Mint tea has magical stomach- and brain-soothing properties, powers that will surprise the most cynical bastard out there. And you, you're a sweetheart deep down inside—you're just tired, and life is hard right now. Let's boil some water (any old pan is fine) and get a mug. Cheap mint tea tastes just fine. It only needs to steep for a couple minutes. Here, hold it—it's warm. Breathe in the minty steam. There, there.
Shoot Guns at the Gun Range, Ladies
If you're unemployed, underemployed, or hate your job, you can take hours of healthy aggression out at the gun range for less than $10. Tuesday is ladies' day at Wade's Gun Range (13570 Bel Red Rd, Bellevue, 425-649-8560), where women receive half-price lane fees ($7.50) and free gun rentals from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (ammo prices vary according to gun caliber; zombie and Osama bin Laden targets cost $2 each). Tuesday is also ladies' day at Champion Arms (18801 E Valley Highway S, Kent, 253-872-0444), where women get in free from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. when accompanied by one paying shooter ($7.50, or $3.75 if you want to split the difference with a lady friend).
Go to Magnolia Park
Bad or shaken nerves can be quickly repaired or restored by beauty. And the most beautiful spot in Seattle is Magnolia Park, which is covered by huge and marvelous trees and is on a bluff that has a view of West Seattle, Bainbridge Island, downtown Seattle, the bay, the ferries going back and forth, and cargo ships that are entering and leaving our little mountain-surrounded world. The beauty of it all, which costs nothing (the wine in a coffee cup is only a couple of bucks), brings peace to a troubled soul and order to a cluttered mind.
Don't Listen to That, Go to Discovery Park
Magnolia's Discovery Park is 534 acres of trails, beaches, picnic areas, and gorgeous views. You can waste an entire day wandering through the woods, combing the sand, and relaxing by the little pond (a turtle lives there!). You'll see raccoons, bald eagles, and the occasional sea lion, and in the summer juicy (and FREE!) blackberries grow pretty much everywhere. The only drawback is the adjacent sewage-treatment plant—sometimes it makes the whole place smell like poo.
Don't Listen to That, Go to the Greenhouse at Volunteer Park
The smell of fecundity is inherently arousing—it's the smell of living organisms having sex, after all—and inside the Volunteer Park Conservatory, it's always fecund (Tues–Sun 10 am–4 pm). Always: On a cold day, when you just want to hold hands with someone and stare at the bearded cacti; on a warm day, when you feel exactly as excited about the sun as the upturned orchids; on a gray day, when your insides feel as murky as the water in the carnivorous pitcher plants. The place is always an olfactory aphrodisiac, and it's always free. (Also, it has the best old-school radiators on the planet.) You will emerge richer in spirit, and then you will get laid.