Category Archives: General Thoughts

Frugal Fun: Community Theater

I am going to share a secret with you.  When I am not reading financial blogs, kayak fishing, or following the The Philadelphia Eagles, there is a good chance that I might be watching a play.  My wife and I love the theater.  There is nothing like seeing a live performance on Broadway.  Over the years, we have seen some amazing shows.  Last spring, for my wife’s birthday, we saw Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce in Hello Dolly.  The previous spring, we saw Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in Blackbird.  We have also seen WickedSpiderman: Turn Off the Dark, and The Humans that was written by the Scranton, Pa native Steven Karam.

My wife is a fan of musicals.  When we first started dating, she used to volunteer as an usher at The Scranton Cultural Center. As an usher, she was able to watch many of the top off-Broadway plays including Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, and Hair without ever buying a ticket. Over the years, she might have volunteered at 50 or more shows.

I am not as interested in musicals as my wife.  Straight plays are my favorite type of shows.  She enjoys show tunes and I like listening to dialogue.

I was introduced to the theater by an English Professor in college.  As an assignment for class, we had to attend a play and write an essay about it.  The play that we had to attend was a performance of Night of The Iguana by Tennessee Williams that was put on by other students who were part of the Drama Club.  That performance turned me on to the theater.

The cost to attend a Broadway show can be expensive.  We have attended matinees where we were able to buy tickets for less than $50.  We have also attended plays like Wicked where the tickets cost more than $250.

If you like theater, but do not want to spend big bucks on tickets, it is worth checking out your local theater company.  Going to see a play at a local theater is fun.  The small theaters provide a more intimate experience.  Plus, you can say you are a patron of the arts without having to be a multi-millionaire.  Tickets can be purchased for less than $25.

At a local theater company, you will most likely not have the grand theatrical sets that are on the stage of a Broadway performance. There will not be a full orchestra in the mezzanine.  Odds are, there will not even be a mezzanine.   You will also not see Tony Award-winning actors.  However, I was once at a performance of King Lear and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jason Miller showed up to give a special guest performance to lend support to that small theater.

Some local small theater ensembles have professional actors.  Some theaters are made up of amateur actors who perform because they love acting.  I have even gone to plays that were put on by high school students.

One of the most creative plays that I have ever been to was performed by a group of high school students.  For their senior project, this group of students turned three of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories into a play.  Their Literature Professor helped them to turn Hills Like White Elephant’sA Clean, Well-Lighted Place, and The End of Something into a three-act play.  The tickets to watch that show only cost $5 and it supported a good cause.

The most recent play that we attended was a performance of Into the Woods.  My wife wanted to go to this play because one of her friends from work was acting in this play.  The play was put on by Theatrical Gems.  The show was at The Performance Art Theater in Cresco, Pennsylvania.

Into the woods is a modern spin on the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.  This musical brings together the classic stories of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.  It was a fun play to watch since it was the weekend before Halloween.  It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  The tickets for this play were only $20.

Have you ever attended a show at your local community theater?

If you have, please share your experience in the comment section.

Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive

Life is unpredictable.  An emergency can occur at any time.  There are some emergencies you cannot prepare for and others that you can.  This post is for Dads, Dollars, Debts who recently lost his house and nearly his life in the Tubb’s fire in California.  The Financial Independence Community has come together to create a chain gang to show our support for him and his family:

Anchor: DadsDollarsDebt – Tubb’s Fire – A Sudden Evacuation

Anchor Two: Chief Mom Officer – A Harrowing Escape Inspires The Personal Finance Community – Beyond The Emergency Fund

Link 1: OthalaFehu – Cool As A Cucumber

Link 2: The Retirement Manifesto – Am I A Prepper?

Link 3: Mrs. Retire to Roots – In Case Of Emergency Follow The Plan

Link 4: The Lady In Black – Emergency Preparedness

Link 5: The Green Swan – Preparing For The Worst

Link 6: Minafi – Minimal Hurricane Preparation

Link 7: A Gai Shan Life – Earthquake and disaster preparedness

Link 8: The Financial Journeyman – Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive

Link 9; John And Jane Doe – Thinking the Worst: Emergency Planning or Fighting the Last War?

Link 10: Adventure Rich – Emergency Preparation Up North

Link 11: Money Beagle – How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?

Link 12: Crispy Doc – Fighting Fire With FI/RE

Link 13: She Picks Up Pennies – How Can A Planner Be Unprepared?

Link 14: Chronicles Of A Father-Getting Ready for a Natural Disaster –

Link 15: Rogue Dad MD – Disrupting the Equilibrium

Link 16: Unique Gifter – 10 Ways To Help Disaster Victims

Link 17: SomeRandomGuyOnline – Friday Blog Roundup – Emergency Preparedness Edition

Link 18: 99 to 1 Percent: 15 Frugal Ways To Prepare For An Emergency

Link 19: I Dream Of FIRE – Your house is burning and you can only save 10 things – what do you choose?

Link 20: Full Time Finance – Emergency Preparedness in Place

Link 21: Thinking of Someday – Are You Prepared For When An Emergency Occurs?

Link 22: My Money Wizard – Are You Mentally (and Financially) Prepared to Lose Everything?

Life in the Northeast  

I live in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The northeast is not known for the severe weather that some other parts of the country experience.  We normally don’t see the hurricane’s that hit Florida, the tornadoes that hit the mid-west, or the droughts that lead to wildfires in California.  Never the less, emergencies do occur and I have learned to be proactive and to prepare as best as I can.


Over the course of a few years, my wife and I did some major renovations to our house.  We remodeled the bathroom, kitchen, and made some other upgrades.  About five years ago, we did some major renovations by adding on an addition to the front of our house and a deck on the rear.

Following those upgrades, I wanted to be sure that I was carrying enough insurance.  My insurance agent had my house and its contents reappraised.  I was only carrying $168K worth of insurance and the house was reappraised for $226K.  I bumped the coverage up to $250K to be sure to cover the house as well as what is in the house.

Almost all homeowner policies do not cover water damage from flooding.  If you live near water get flood insurance.  Get the extra coverage even if you live near a small stream that never floods.

If you have a spouse or children, look into term life insurance.  It is cheap if you are relatively young and in good health.  My wife and I each have a $500K policy.  We bought our plans to cover about 10-years of living expenses for the surviving spouse.  I bought my policy at age 34 and pay $25 per month.  My wife has some heart disease in her family history, so her plan costs $41 per month.  If you have children, get enough coverage to make up for 20-years of your lost wages.


Unlike some parts of the country, Pennsylvania has 4 seasons.  We have summer, fall, winter, and spring.  Even though we have four seasons, Mother Nature still has a mind of her own.  We can have 36” of snow dumped on us as early as October or as late as April.  The problem with receiving snow so early or late is that the temperature warms up quickly and can lead to flooding.

I live in the Pocono Mountains.  I don’t have to deal with the flooding that the local cites have to cope with when the Susquehanna River floods.  When there is a major snow or windstorm, however, I can lose power for an extended period.  There have been a few storms over the past 10 years that have knocked out our power for over one-week.

To keep our house functional during power outages, I purchased a generator.  The Generac GP 5500 that I purchased is a 6,800-watt generator.  It is big enough to keep about 70% of the house operational.  It keeps the furnace running for heat, all the kitchen appliances, and the TV in the living room.


In January, we turned our 3rd bedroom into a pantry.  We have it stocked up with canned goods just in case we get stranded at our house.  We have all-wheel-drive vehicles and many of our neighbors have snow plows, so we would almost always be able to get out to the store.  Having food in the pantry still provides peace of mind.

General Emergency Supplies  

It is wise to keep some general supplies in stock.  Since we have had to deal with a few extended power outages, we keep a supply of:

  • Candles
  • Fuel
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • 20 gallons of water
  • First aid kit
  • Extra cell phone battery
  • Manual crank radio
  • Mossberg 500
  • Tools
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper products
  • Camping gear (Coleman stove, sleeping bags, and lantern)
  • Full propane gas tank for gas grill

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide

Not every emergency is due to nature.  Nothing freaks me out more than the thought of being trapped in a house fire or dying from smoke or carbon monoxide inhalation.  To better ensure that does not happen, I have 5 smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector in my house.  I change the batteries every 6 months.  I am most likely throwing away good batteries, but changing them on a regular basis allows me to sleep well at night.


An emergency can occur at any time.  Make a list of what you would need to survive for a few weeks without power.   It is better to keep these supplies on hand.  When Super Storm Sandie hit in 2012, the whole county was sold out of generators for weeks.  That storm was in October and my generator did not arrive until after the holidays.  It is better to have what you need before an emergency than to go looking for supplies during an emergency.

Do you have a plan if an emergency occurs?

If you do, please share what it is in the comment section.