I closed on the purchase of my condo on September 10, 2001. (Yes, the day before 9/11.) The next morning, I was headed to Hawaii for a family vacation. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. We were stuck in Los Angeles and ended up driving back to Denver. (FYI, a really long road trip with your parents, as an adult, is not as much fun as it sounds. *said sarcastically*) We eventually made it to Hawaii a few months later. However, I digress. The intro just made for an interesting lead to the real point of my story: How I learned about the importance of being neighborly. [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: The Importance of Being Neighborly
A trip to New York City (with spa treatments, a Broadway show and a three-night stay in a $600-per-night hotel), a trip to see the Broncos play the Raiders in California, $600 in Colorado Lottery scratch tickets*, 50,000 miles from United Airlines, travel vouchers from Frontier Airlines, an iPad Mini and dinner with a big-time celebrity — these are some of the big prizes I’ve won entering sweepstakes. (For those new to “Bryan Blathers” — click here to read how I won dinner with Paula Abdul. The story is embarrassing, but true!)
Along with big prizes, I have also won numerous smaller prizes, including concert tickets, gift cards and free items — everything from a jar of pasta sauce to a football. I keep a journal of all of my wins — big and small. (I still remember my first win from KMGH in elementary school. I won a stuffed teddy bear from the “Noell & Andy” show. Does anyone else remember that show? I was so excited to hear my name announced on TV!) I seem to win a good prize every few months. And, by “good”, I mean anything valued at $25 or more. UPDATE: Yesterday, I won VIP tickets (with a meet & greet) to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on June 5 — plus, $100 to spend on food and drinks at the venue! [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: How I Win So Many Sweepstakes Prizes
Upfront, I’m a bit of a cynic and pessimist. That being said, I always struggle with the advice given by self-help books and TV shows, even though I readily consume all of it. (I love a Sunday morning watching the Oprah Winfrey Network. By the way, I love Oprah. However, is it just me or do all of her “favorite things” seem really expensive?) No matter the self-help guru, the advice is always the same — “just be yourself”, “follow your passion” or “take risks.” And, in doing so, “happiness” is sure to follow.
My issue is that the advice is always coming from someone who’s already successful and wealthy. These shows and books never highlight someone who’s struggling or not well-off financially. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? It begs the question, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” (The media creates this illusion that being happy or successful is achievable with the right attitude, only to make many of us feel like we’re flawed.) It’s difficult to “take risks”, when you have lots of bills to pay. It’s easy to sit high atop a perch and espouse such wisdom because you don’t have to worry about money. Most successful people don’t answer to anyone, so “being yourself” comes much easier. [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: Can Money Buy Happiness?
I’m not one to get too sappy over the passing of celebrities. I even cringe, when I see people crying on TV over some actor or musician. We don’t know these people, so how can you be upset? Yesterday changed all of that for me. I’m simply heartbroken at the passing of PRINCE. I never thought I’d see the day. Mainly because he seemed of another world — mysterious and immortal.
My first experience with his music was when my older brother, on break from the Navy, brought home a cassette of “1999” for my middle brother. I commandeered it and fell in love with it. Next, that same middle brother took me to see “Purple Rain” (just a few months later) at the Villa Italia twin theater in Lakewood. In those days, the rules were much more lax because it was R-rated and we still got in, even though I was only 13 and my brother was 17. Much like every teen, I played “Purple Rain” a thousand times that summer — never skipping a track. (I still get emotional every time I hear “The Beautiful Ones” and the title track.) [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: My (Brief) Interactions With PRINCE
I never pay full price, when I dine out. Never. (Big surprise, right?) I always have a coupon or promo in hand. That’s why I love Groupon. The vouchers give me an opportunity to experience new restaurants and shops that I would not otherwise try. (Don’t worry, I’m not a “bad cheapskate.” I always tip on the full amount of the bill before the discount and so should you. I’ve heard horror stories from wait staff of customers leaving a tip on the balance — sometimes just a buck or less.) To be honest, there are very few places I go back to (after using a voucher) because they’re just too expensive without a deal.
However, after using a Groupon voucher several months ago, I have a new favorite Chinese restaurant — Min J Asian Cuisine at 6585 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. in Greenwood Village. (It’s a relatively new restaurant — just a little more than a year old…I think.) It’s located next to the Greenwood Plaza Stadium 12 movie theater, tucked behind CB & Potts. (Perfect for a dinner-and-a-movie night, especially on Sundays because of the theater’s $6 ticket prices!) This is definitely a case of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The exterior is a bit shabby, looking a little run down. However, it’s deceiving because the atmosphere inside is rather “fancy” and modern. The outside clearly does not match the inside, night and day. [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: Because of Groupon, I Love Min J Asian Cuisine
I’ve been known to make a Target clearance run on the weekends — just going from Target to Target and only shopping the clearance shelves. (Yes, I lead a very full life. Thank you very much.) Admittedly, I’ve found some of my best deals at Target. (I’ve never been a “Walmart person”, but many of my fellow bargain hunters tell me you can find great deals there, too.) If you’re unfamiliar with clearance at the bulls-eye retailer, you need to start looking for the red-orange tags. Clearance starts at 15% off and progresses up to 90% — with intervals at 30%, 50% and 70%. (Every now and then, I find items at 85% off. However, it’s rare to find items at 90% off, with the exception of seasonal merchandise. If you do, go crazy and fill your cart because you’re not going to find a better deal.) You can tell the markdown interval because it’s reflected on the upper-right hand corner of the tag — you’ll see a tiny 15, 30, 50, 70 or 90. Clearance is usually located on end caps, but can also be found in the aisles on occasion. Over the years, I have found a trick that I’ve kept to myself until now… [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: My #1 Tip For Target Clearance
I must be the luckiest guy in the world. For years, I’ve read about pay-it-forward stories happening at restaurants and drive-thrus. Well, it happened to me for the second time. (The first time was at Taco Bell, a few years ago. At the time, I shared my experience here.) I was at Starbucks buying breakfast sandwiches for my elderly parents (in their 70s) on Tuesday morning and (surprise!) the family ahead of me in the drive-thru lane paid for them. It seems like such a small gesture, but I can tell you the impact is profound. In the moment the barista told me my tab was covered, I felt shocked, special and grateful. Unfortunately, it seems we no longer expect others to be kind, generous or thoughtful. The family pulled away so quickly. There was no chance to honk my horn or tap on the driver’s window to share my gratitude. They had no idea about my gender, race, political beliefs, religion or financial situation. They simply wanted to make a stranger’s day a little brighter. The act was not small by any means, especially for a bargain hunter like me. The $10 they saved me allows me to put more gas in the car, buy more groceries or add to my savings account. Every action has a reaction. [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: Thank You, Kind Strangers.
As a well-known bargain hunter, I’m often asked, “How do you do save so much money?” (I’m also asked, “Are you a model or do you just look like one?” [insert laughter] Does anyone else remember those Barbizon School of Modeling commercials?) I’ve been a “cheapskate” for so long that it’s just become second-nature for me to always find a deal. I strive to save, at least, 75% on my grocery bill and I’m usually successful — sometimes even hitting upwards of 90% off. (On the rare occasion, I have hit the most-coveted 100% off. However, it’s typically on a few select items, such as shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste or soap.)
To me, it’s just one big game: They’re trying to get my money and I’m trying to keep my money. There’s no better feeling than walking out of the grocery store with several bags, knowing you’ve only spent $20 or so on $100 worth of groceries. (It might help that I have a bit of a photographic memory. I can match up coupons with sale prices rather quickly.) Okay, I’m boring you now. Are you ready for my #1 tip? (Drum roll, please.) [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: My #1 Money-Saving Tip For Groceries
Do you have a go-to story that you tell over and over? That one story of an experience that makes for a good ice breaker or belly laugh. For years, this was my go-to story — the one I would tell most often to new friends or co-workers. (Now, I realize it just makes me sound old and, possibly, creepy!) However, since we’re just getting to know each other, I will tell it one more time. It does give you an insight into my obsessive nature, especially when it comes to reading “the fine print.” Picture it: Denver, 1992. (Don’t you just love Sophia from “The Golden Girls”? My guess is only a few people will get the reference.) I was on summer break from the University of Northern Colorado, working as a tour guide for the Coors Brewing Company. I was a huge fan of Paula Abdul and knew she was coming to Fiddler’s Green (as part of her “Under My Spell Tour.” For the record, MTV held a contest to name the tour. I always thought my entry was better — “The AbracadAbdul Tour.” Okay, maybe not.) One day, while reading the Rocky Mountain News (I still miss that paper!), I spotted a sweepstakes for concert tickets and a backstage pass to meet the pop star before the show. Of course, I quickly clipped the entry form and mailed it off. However, I also noticed the fine print at the bottom of the ad, “For official rules, pick up a copy at the Rocky Mountain News.” (No clicking online here. You actually had to get in your car and drive to get information!) Given my obsessive nature, I headed to their main office on Colfax Avenue the same day. The woman working the front desk was clearly puzzled by my request. It seems no one asked for the official rules on any sweepstakes…ever. After several phone calls, she produced a copy. One rule, in particular, caught my attention. [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: My Dinner With Paula Abdul
Saving money is often about using lots of different tips and tricks. And, of course, we would all love to save as much as possible, when it comes to our regular, necessary life expenditures — including filling our gas tank. (Luckily, the drop in gas prices has helped tremendously. I don’t miss the days, when it cost around $40 to fill my tank.) This week, I filled my gas tank (12.211 gallons, to be exact) for just $3.90. Here’s how I did it: [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: How I Filled My Gas Tank For $3.90
With a new year comes many changes, so we’re tryin’ something new on Mile High On The Cheap. We’re looking to have a little more “personality” and find more ways to interact with readers in 2016. So we decided to start “Bryan Blathers.” No set schedule — just whenever the whim strikes. The post is an attempt to share a thought, experience, personal discovery, favorite thing (watch out, Oprah!) or money-saving tip — maybe even the occasional rant or movie review. (We might even have a guest columnist or two — Hello, Laura!) One thing for sure: It won’t be anything controversial or political. Of course, we want readers to share their take or thoughts by commenting. You can also always reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t profess to be clever, humorous or, even, smart — just a 40-something, overweight (I hope to lose weight in 2016! I think I made the same proclamation in 2015 *smile*) guy trying to save money and laugh as much as possible. (I’m pretty sure I was born a cheapskate. It’s just in me — I refuse to pay full price for anything and am never without a coupon!) As an introduction, my friends, here are some of my favorite things (in no particular order): [Read more…] about Bryan Blathers: Hello, Friends.