Monday, February 20, 2006

List-o-Mania: Ways to be fabulous for cheap in Chicago

When I moved to Chicago, I didn't have a job. I had enough saved that I could spend my time finding the right job for me, so I wasn't in a rush per se. However, in order to make my savings stretch but still enjoy the city, I had to commit myself to the idea of cheap fabulousness. I know--I could just not go out. However, that would defeat the purpose of moving to a new city. I needed to get to know the city and definitely needed to make some new friends.

Now here I am....almost a year later! I'm working at a job that is pretty awesome and I'm not worried about the occasional elaborate night out. However, I thought it might be nice to share some of my tips with other gals moving to Chicago.

Tip 1: Parties at the W Lake Shore and City Center hotels: The W hosts these terrific events once or twice a month. I have been to book parties, fashion shows, make up product launchings.....ALL FOR FREE! All I had to do is RSVP and I got to go to some really fun events, complete with free food and alcoholic party drinks! At one party, I left with a goodybag full of stuff. Yeah they may have the book for sale or the clothes--but resist the urge to purchase if you are on a budget! For more info on cool events at the W, visit

Tip 2: Free museum days: My personal favorite was the Art Institute on Tuesday nights. Let your mind expand without stretching your pocket book.

Tip 3: The $5 a day visitor passes on the CTA. I suppose this isn't really a way to be fabulous, but it definitely helped me on the days where I had scheduled 4 interviews in a day. Normally, if you pay for each ride you take on the CTA, it is $1.75 a pop. However, if you know you have to be all over town, the pass is your best bet. I used to buy mine at the Thompson Center at Clark and Lake. I think you can also buy them at the Chicago Red Line stop or at one of the airports.

Tip 4: Free haircuts in Lincoln Park: Many of the trend salons in the city will offer free haircuts and colors to the brave and stylish. Check out Craig's List, under the Free section. I got my hair cut and colored at the Art and Science Salon. The students that cut my hair were in an Advanced program and did a great job. Yes, you should still tip but it definitely saves you some bucks. For those of you getting your hair colored, you may have to pay for the hair color products used--so please be aware!

Tip 5: Free concerts and book readings: The Borders on Michigan as well as on State and Randolph often hold readings and concerts for free. Last summer, I saw Stephen Page of BNL perform for free. If I wanted him to sign something, I had to buy a CD, but there was nothing preventing us from listening to him.

Tip 6: Get thee on the Guest List: Many clubs allow you to put yourself on the guest list via email. This allows you to get in without cover. Sure, you may have to buy drinks, but you aren't required to most of the time. I went to Soundbar with my friends and only had to fork out money for a drink, which was entirely my choice in the first place. Another time, we went to Wet and drank for free from 9p-10p.

Tip 7: Magazine parties: My friends and I went to an In Style party at the Victor Hotel. All we had to do was RSVP. No cover. Seriously. We dined on free apps and drank oodles of free wine and martinis. Best of all, we all got a goody bag filled with products from the next month's InStyle magazine. How do you find out about these parties? One great site is ...

I hope my tips provide some help or at least some entertainment! Remember you can be fabulous without breaking the bank!


Anonymous said...

Another way to spend less is a friend of mine's page: It lets you find the cheap drinks in your area.

That Girl said...

WOW those are great tips!!! I am moving to Chicago in a few weeks and will need all the help i can get! :) I just hope to get out and meet/make some new friends and love living in the city!!!