On a Thursday morning in the middle of June, a good friend of mine Ronnie text me and asked if I was interested in going to a concert later that evening. The concert was featuring three of my favorite musicians Queen Naija, Multiple Grammy award winners H.E.R., and Mary J. Blige at Staples Center for the BET Experience. I was extremely reluctant to go because I did not have a great deal of money to spare. Embarrassed to broadcast my financial situation I hesitantly told her that I did not have hundreds of dollars to spend on concert tickets. Ronnie then text back that these tickets she scored were less than a burrito, drink, and tortilla chips at Chipotle. I was completely sold, and I jumped to this opportunity! There are many sites that claim they have the best discount on tickets for events but these same sites have so many fees that it does not seem like I am getting a great deal. I go on those sites expecting a fantastic deal and once I go to the checkout cart I feel as though I was just catfished by this website. In some cases, I am paying more in fees than the actual concert! In my experience, I have found the best deals on events at Goldstar, Groupon, and StubHub. These sites cater to everyone's budget, as a single Mom, I am always on the prowl for a good deal. Everyone should be able to experience the luxury of seeing their favorite artists no matter your budget.
I heard about Goldstar through a friend who goes to concerts what seems like every week. I and a few of my friends wanted to go to a Kevin Hart comedy show a few years ago. I decided to go online directly to the site to check out ticket prices and saw that the tickets were $75 after taxes and fees. The seats were towards the back in the nosebleed section, and that price did not seem like a good deal for my fixed income. Some friends still decided to go, so they went ahead a purchased their tickets. Upon telling my concert hopping friend about my dilemma she suggested Goldstar and it was not a disappointment. Not only did I find those Kevin Hart tickets, but I also found them at a discounted rate of $25 after taxes and fees! Granted, those tickets were still in the nosebleed section and were on the other side of the stadium just as the seventy-five dollar nose bleed tickets but at least I got my money’s worth. Every upcoming concert I hear about I always check on Goldstar first because why pay full price for tickets when there could be another option.
If you haven't used Groupon at this point in your life at least once, then you're doing something wrong or you have extra money laying around. Groupon is usually the first place I check for literally everything in my life; from oil change discounts to Great Wolf Lodge hotel discounts. I can usually find a discount on most things I need on there, the list is limitless. So of course, Groupon has amazing discounts on concert tickets. I landed a great deal on concert tickets to a show featuring seven popular artists for just $20 and the original price for the tickets started at $55. The only downside to using Groupon is that there are certain events and discounts that you need to wait 24 to 48 hours before using, but like everything else, I would recommend reading the fine print before purchasing.
Last but not least, there is StubHub. I’m fairly new to StubHub but so far that site has lived up to its reputation. I found the tickets to the concert I previously mentioned with my three favorite musicians at Staples Center through StubHub. A few weeks prior I saw this upcoming event but tickets ranged from $150 to $1000. We purchased the last-minute tickets for $16 with premium seating. Before purchasing these tickets, I saw the same concert tickets earlier that day for $55 on Groupon. I was extremely surprised that StubHub had those tickets for so low and a better deal than Groupon!
Now that you are armed with this information there is no excuse for you not to go see your favorite artists or go to an event despite your financial situation.
Being a broke single mom I am constantly looking for things to do for little to no money that will entertain not just myself but my child as well. I cannot speak on anyone else's financial situation, but I'm almost certain that most people like to save a buck or two. One of the things I love to do with and without my daughter is to be anywhere near the ocean. The ocean smells good, the air feels good and it’s so peaceful. A good friend of mine introduced me to the trails in Rancho Palos Verdes near Terranea Resort a few years ago for a workout. I was in complete dismay how beautiful this whole area was; it was like a scene from a travel magazine or like what non-Californians picture what California must look like in their minds. Living in the city makes you forget exactly how beautiful parts of Los Angeles can be, and that there is clear blue water in the ocean.
Terranea Resort is a beautiful hotel and spa by the sea with villas that don't quite match my paygrade. But, the resort does allow people to go and explore their trails attached to the hotel property. On one of the trails closer to the ocean, the trail ends in a beautiful mid-sized cave that you are able to climb down and walk around during the low tide. The cave is not a deep one, but it is large enough to hike down and explore. Occasionally I will pack a lunch for myself and my daughter and just go for the day. She can spend hours discovering all the small sea creatures in the tide pools. The upper section Pelican Cove Park offers free parking and the resort provides picnic tables and public restrooms for the general public.
That area also has a few walkable romantic trails. The sunsets are something out of a fairytale, and to add icing on the cake, there is an inaccessible lighthouse to go along with your beautiful scenery. On a clear day you can see Catalina Island off in the distance as well as the Whale migration, and dolphins jumping out of the water. I once went on a whale watching tour in the marina and saw maybe one or two whales and three days later went to Ranchos Palos Verdes and saw four times that amount of whales in the ocean for free. There is one particular trail that you can get a good workout in called the Toveemor trail that has two steep hills. At the bottom of the Toveemor trail, there is a park called Pelican Cove and its beauty is totally worth the struggle I endure walking back up these two hills. With all the tidepools and wonderful sounds of the rocks waves hitting the rocks I could spend hours in Pelican Cove alone.
Don't feel like going on trails and just want to relax at the beach? About a half a mile east of these trails is a beach called Abalone Cove. Granted, you may have to pay six to twelve dollars for all day parking, but if you want to avoid the beach crowds, and enjoy the beauty of this beach, Abalone Cove is perfect. This beach also has tidepools and trails to explore similar to the Pelican Cove area. This beach has actual sand to dig your toes in unlike Pelican Cove Park which consists of mostly Rocks.
If you are turned off at the fact that there are not any food places near, Rancho Palos Verdes is a short five to ten-minute drive to San Pedro and Torrance if you want to grab some food and make a day of it. So for a twelve dollar day (not including gas), you can enjoy Ranchos Palos Verdes trails and beaches for the day! You can find more information on the different trails that Rancho Palos Verdes has to offer on the Palos Verdes website at https://pvplc.org/_lands/trails.asp . I've only experienced a small part of what that area has to offer, I'm sure there is more than what I have seen. I am aware that you can go to any other beach in Los Angeles for free, and those beaches are amazing, but once you see what the big fuss is about Rancho Palos Verdes you will understand. I too was skeptical at first but now I'm completely sold!
My first date with “Henry” was great. We went to the rooftop bar at a hotel in Huntington Beach overlooking the ocean, had a few drinks, ate great food, went for a long walk and ended the night at the beach drinking with a bonfire. I wouldn't say it was a perfect date but it was up there in the top fifteen of great dates for me. The next date we met at a place of my choosing, a new boutique eating establishment that I have been twice before and fell in love with the food. Our most recent, and third date we ate at a new upcoming Ramen restaurant in Long Beach and went bar hopping to five amazing bars. These bars played amazing music from hip hop to eighties music and had reasonably priced alcohol. Upon completion or our third date something occurred to me; if our fling turns for the worse, Can I go back to those places?
I would love to go back to that rooftop bar, or back to that beach for a bonfire. I would love to visit those five bars we visited and eat at the Ramen place with the delicious spicy miso chicken ramen again. But those are HIS spots and if our little fling turns sour I do not want to see him at my new found boutique restaurant. I have every intention on eating at my place I introduced him to again in the near future, but I do not want to run into an ex there cause I'm going to be constantly looking over my shoulder looking for a man I went on a few dates with while I'm stuffing my face with poutine fries. In my mind once the man i've dated goes away they cease to exist anymore, and by running into him at my favorite place is a reminder of my or his failure of our dating relationship. I suppose it also depends on how the relationship ended, if I get “ghosted” and he shows up at my spot I introduced him to or vice versa do we pretend not to know one another? That is why I propose people should never go on pre-serious relationship dates to their favorite spots.
Maybe in the early stages of your dates you can potentially go somewhere generic or somewhere that can be associated with a wide variety of emotions such as: meet for coffee, the movies, go to a museum, go get ice cream, or walk along the path of some beautiful scenery. Just try and avoid the great stuff like: going to see your favorite band in concert, taking them somewhere you've always wanted to go, or in my case taking him to one of my top four favorite restaurants in Long Beach that he is now crazy about as well. Your favorite place should be associated with happiness and love not from a guy that you met up with two or three times and for whatever reason fizzled out. Sure, you have an interesting story to tell when you return to your favorite spot, but just think about it; you will always be reminded of that person that didn't work out everytime you go, and they may not be worth it. To this day I cannot bare to step into a certain Pho restaurant near me because of a first date nightmare I had a few years ago and the restaurant had fantastic Pho. So reserve those special places for the people who are worth it and who are with you for the long run, cause at least you will have memories of these places with people you care for or at least once cared for.
I was working as a call center representative the first time I heard about a “potato ball”. My friend Regina had some on her desk and I asked what those were, she described it as a fried potato filled with meat. With that description alone I had my reservations about this “potato ball”. It wasn't until she offered me a ball to try that Porto’s had its hooks in me. Regina did not give this potato ball justice! It is like mashed potatoes dipped in crumbs cooked making it the perfect amount of crispy with minced ground beef, peppers and seasonings in the middle. Prior to that day, I lived here for 5 years and I had never heard of a potato ball or Porto’s. A few weeks later, there was a birthday in the office and our manager brought in a strawberry shortcake cake from Porto’s, and it was one of the best I have ever experienced.
There was a company volunteer event at Dodger Stadium which had ended early, so we decided to grab some lunch. The coworkers I rode with decided on Porto’s in Downey which was on the way home. I was able to look at the menu first hand and was completely in shock to see how inexpensive the menu was. Not to mention the wide variety of desserts to choose from is mind blowing. I ordered the spicy chicken milanesa sandwich, 2 potato balls and a cheese roll for all under $10, and still had leftovers to take home! It was at that moment I was in love with Porto’s Bakery.
This cafe is the total package. Porto’s food is amazing and it fits my budget! They have so much to offer for everyone. My picky 11 year old absolutely loves Porto’s which left me completely speechless; here is a child who orders pizza at Red Robin or chicken nuggets at Olive Garden and YES grilled cheese sandwich at In-n-out, and she is here at a Cuban restaurant Porto’s ordering Tamales and Guava rolls! From sandwiches to combination plates or soups, they have something for everyone. I have never went to Porto’s without the lines being long and sometimes out the door, but the wait isn't long because the lines move fast. Plus as you're waiting in the line you can look at all of their mouthwatering desserts so you can make your decision once its your turn, I still never know what I want because everything looks delicious!
They recently opened one near me in Buena Park the only bad thing I can honestly say about Porto’s is that on a weekend around lunchtime is that parking is a huge headache. Although parking was horrible, by the time I sat down to eat, the 45 minutes it took for me to find parking was totally worth that moment. There are Porto’s locations all over L.A. Buena Park, Downey, Glendale, West Covina, and Burbank so really there is no excuses for not going. Some food places make me regret and there are other food establishments I feel no regret, well Porto’s is a “No regret” establishment. If you are like me ballin’ on a small budget and still want great food without going to a fast food to feel guilty Porto’s Bakery is a guilt free pleasure.
In the summer of 2001 my sixteen year old self, soon-to-be old High School senior was gettin’ down to Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women”. I had my first job at Long John Silvers and every two weeks I was proud of my $214.00 checks. The song “Independent Women” was my theme song that summer and the following months into my senior year, no one couldn't stop me, I felt like I had my whole life planned. I remember thinking that adulthood was gonna be a piece of cake. At the time I would spend my money on clothes, shoes,and minutes for my prepaid cell phone with cingular wireless. I had no idea what was to come eighteen years later.
In 2019 what is considered to be an “independent” woman? In LA the average college graduate makes, $40,004 a year after taxes, for a 1 bdrm apartment in the city is $1750 per month, after bills that leaves you sixty-seven dollars in your account. This doesn't include children. No wonder why the homeless rate is up twelve percent from the previous year in LA county, yet my parents generation and baby boomers are confused why we aren't having children. Birth rates have been at its lowest in thirty-two years and I understand why, no one can afford to live here especially when more than half of your income goes to rent alone. There are thousands maybe millions of independent women a paycheck away from homelessness. I always tell my single girlfriends without children to not have children anytime soon or to not have children at all in this economy. I tell them to travel the world instead. I always hear “Move to a different city, or state” I've heard it all, but jobs are here in the major metropolitan areas. I could not find my current job in my small hometown or any other small town where the cost of rent is half of what I currently pay.
I can identify as an independent woman, but it’s definitely not as glamorous as Destiny’s Child sung about. Being a single adult leaves you no choice but to be an independent woman. Some of us don't have a pillow to fall back on in case we fail, we have concrete. I don't judge when people still live at home with their parents, if anything I envy them. I'm over here surviving and the people who live with parents get to live rent free and go to concerts, eat at great restaurants, and travel. The clothes i’m wearing I bought them, The shoes i’m wearing I bought them, the house I live in i’m paying for someone else's mortgage. Maybe Destiny’s Child was trying to make light of the struggles of adulting, or maybe preparing young women for the future by letting us know all the stuff we need to buy on our own once we are adults and without the help of our parents. Being an independent single mother/woman in 2019 is closer to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” than “Independent Women” cause ladies we cannot give up!