12 Easy to Find Gifts Not Affected by Supply Chain Woes

If you’ve recently tried to buy anything electronic (including a new or used car), then you’ve probably noticed one thing — it’s next to impossible.

The current supply chain issues have been especially problematic for anyone attempting to buy products containing microchips, of which there happens to be a major shortage.

“This holiday season, the most popular electronics seem to be the most likely items impacted by the supply chain,” says Jeff Zhou, cofounder of Fig Loans. “This includes the new consoles, like the PS5, Xbox Series X and the Nintendo Switch OLED. Similarly, many graphics cards like the NVIDIA 3080 and 3090 are in short supply, sending prices and demand for these items skyrocketing.”

But electronics aren’t the only things missing from the market this year. A lot of foreign-made products are also experiencing issues.

“Generally speaking, apparel and goods made in the USA are experiencing fewer supply chain issues than ones made abroad,” says Zhou. “That’s because the biggest impact on the supply chain currently is the continued trouble moving items in and out of major ports. Products made stateside aren’t having these issues, which means you’re likely to get them faster.”

Easy to Find Gifts In Plentiful Supply

So although Santa used to pack tablets and smartphones under the tree with care — he and you both are going to have to get a little more creative this year.

Here’s a list of 12 headache-free gift ideas that you can buy now for the people on your list. We’ve given you some specific brands but there are other versions of these easy to find gifts in your local stores.

Matching PJs

Up your Christmas-morning game by shopping the collection of uber-soft flannel pajamas from Vermont Flannel Co. Opt for matching ones with the whole family, or just for you and your bestie. Besides PJs, Vermont Flannel Co. also has great-quality flannel shirts and this nifty DIY Quilt Kit.

Pendleton Blanket

Make the winter nights a little cozier for your favorite person by getting them one of these iconic throw blankets from Pendleton. American-made, these blankets are the perfect way to dress up an old couch, remake a bedroom, or even just curl up around the fire.

Green Toys

If you don’t want to worry about your kiddo’s gifts arriving on-time this year, then you might just want to shop the selection at Green Toys. Based in California, this company isn’t just busting out cool toys that are battery-free. They’re also on a mission to make a meaningful impact on the environment. So far, the company has recycled plastic from over 100 million milk jugs and counting.

Homemade Dog Toys

Don’t forget about your favorite pooch this season. Shop some of the cutest dog toys on the internet with this collection of US-based Etsy makers. From fake doggy spritzers to antler chews, this list has something for every four-legged cutie on your list.

Bananas and strawberries sit in a blender.

A Smart Blender

For the nutrition freak in your life, check out these smart blenders from Vitamix. Unlike many other appliance makers, Vitamix doesn’t seem to be experiencing supply chain issues (being American-made probably helps). So go ahead and put at least one “smart” thing under your tree this year, even if it’s just a really good blender.

The super blenders range from about $400 to $525 but you can cut hundreds from the bill with a $99 Ninja combo blender and food processor. If it’s a smoothie maker on their list, check out the $70 Ninja pro blender with powerful ice-crushing capabilities.

Pizza Oven

For the pizza-fiends in your life, give them the gift of “a reason to fire up the grill” with this pizza oven grill-insert from Kettle Pizza. Forget brick-oven pizza, this season’s pizza parties are being served hot off the ol’ grill.

Wine & Spirits

Lest you’ve forgotten how great it is to receive a bottle of your favorite wine or liquor, let us remind you. Fancy wine and spirits make some of the best gifts out there. Shop your local liquor store for a nice bottle to gift your favorite wine snob.

A bottle — or case — of wine might be the best present you’ll give this year. Check our list of the best red wines under $12.

Local Arts & Crafts

Support your local crafters, artists and jewelers this holiday season by shopping at the holiday markets and events happening near you. Check your newspaper and online community events pages to find a local fair and get something unique for everyone on your list.

Subscription Boxes

Looking for an easy present that lets your special someone try something new? Then you might just want to try giving them a subscription box. Some of our favorites include The Wordy Traveler, Brother Vellies, Ship Sunshine and Undiscovered Artisan.

Gift Cards

Boring? Maybe, but gift cards are still one of the best presents to give someone who already has everything. Give them a gift card to their favorite techy store (so they can finally place an order for that new phone when it’s back in stock) or just go classic with a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Knick Knacks

If you’re not sure what to buy for someone on your list, take a minute to browse the selection at Uncommon Goods. If Target and World Market had a baby, it would probably be this store. But unlike some of those other big-box stores, these gifts are all made right here in the USA, and completely unaffected by the supply chain. A special Christmas tree ornament is always a nice gift.

Something to Read

Subscriptions to magazines (remember those?) can be had for as little as $10 a year. Topics range from cooking to automotive to fashion to travel and beyond. Smithsonian magazine is the official journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and 12 issues are just $12. The GIFT subscription comes with a Smithsonian membership. Look for a book idea on NPR’s top books of 2021. There are more than 360 categorized by topics.

Looking for even more holiday gift ideas? You might just check out your local dollar stores (seriously).

Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Dear Penny: Can My Evil Ex-Husband of 38 Years Buy Life Insurance on Me?

Dear Penny,
My ex is a gold digger, on top of being financially rich. Our son had brain cancer for four and a half years. I took care of him his entire life from age 10, including the four and a half years of brain cancer as an adult alone.
I need to know if my ex of 38 years is legally allowed to take out an insurance policy. He was never, ever involved in our children's lives. He disappeared when our sons (twins) were 10 years old. We did not hear from him until our sons were 18.
My ex even professed to say he “did not know him” after our son was buried and my ex left. I paid for my son's life, college, funeral and burial expenses, etc. Because of this, I never had any money left over to take out a life insurance policy on any of my children or even myself.
Can I get any money from my extremely rich ex of 38 years? Can my ex of 38 years take out and collect on any life insurance policies on the twins and daughter and me?
ALL he thinks about is money. He lives in a gated Florida community where houses are $800,000 to $100 million. ALL his second wife thinks about is herself. Even at my son's funeral she thought of only herself. Is there any money or benefits from my ex for me?
-J.

Dear J.,

You’ve experienced a heartbreaking loss. I understand why you want to be sure that your ex-husband didn’t profit off the death of your son, especially since he’s led a lavish lifestyle while you struggled as a single parent.

To take out a life insurance policy on someone else, you need to have an insurable interest in their life. What this means is that you’d suffer financial harm in the event of their death. Parents are presumed to have an insurable interest in the lives of their minor children. In fact, some parents and grandparents buy whole life insurance for infants as a hybrid savings vehicle and insurance policy.

Spouses are also presumed to have an insurable interest in each other’s lives. Ex-spouses do as well in some cases. For example, some divorce decrees will require an ex-spouse to buy life insurance and make the other person the beneficiary if they’ve been ordered to pay child support or alimony. But to buy life insurance on an adult, you also need their knowledge and consent.

Essentially, here’s what all this means for you and your kids: There’s a chance your ex could have taken out life insurance on your children when they were minors. But he would have needed their permission to buy a policy on them as adults. As for you, he wouldn’t have been allowed to buy insurance on your life unless you consented to it or it was ordered as part of a divorce settlement.

There’s always the small chance your ex-husband could have taken out a fraudulent policy. If you suspect that this occurred, you can contact your state’s insurance bureau or use the MIB’s website to search for a policy in your name. (MIB is an insurance consumer reporting agency previously known as the Medical Information Bureau.)

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you have much recourse for getting money out of your ex-husband after 38 years. But if he failed to make court-ordered child support or alimony payments, it may be worth consulting with a family attorney.

Also, since you say your ex is wealthy, you may be able to collect more Social Security based on his record, rather than your own. The fact that he has remarried is irrelevant. If your marriage lasted at least 10 years and you’re not married, this could be an option.

It doesn’t sound like you have any reason to be involved with your ex-husband if your kids are all adults. Try to limit the information you receive about him and his second wife. Resist the urge to Google them or look them up on social media if you can. What you find will only make you angry. If your children have any contact with them, you can ask that they only relay information on a need-to-know basis.

As hard as this is, I think you need to let go of any hope that this man will make you financially whole. You stepped up for your children and did the job of two parents. I hope you take pride in that.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Dear Penny: Can My Husband Stop His Brother From Stealing His Inheritance?

Dear Penny,

My husband's brother took their mother to his accountant to make sure her mutual funds, stocks and banking accounts were being taken care of and that nobody would be able to extort money from her. She is wealthy. The will stated everything was to be split equally, half and half. 

She has two homes. My husband’s brother has taken one of the homes and lets his mother-in-law reside there rent-free. 

Now my husband has discovered that his brother is 100% beneficiary to certain IRAs and insurance claims. Both my husband and his brother were adopted. They don't see eye to eye. Their mother said my husband’s brother would never not give my husband his half of his inheritance. They have avoided each other, as we didn’t hold family gatherings due to COVID-19. 

Is my husband’s brother able to keep him from his half of their inheritance? His brother has made himself the executor of the will and power of attorney, or something. 

I feel they should have gone together to the CPA. My husband won't listen to me. Am I in the wrong? 

-C.

Dear C.,

I’m not sure what you’re asking of your husband, or why you think you might be in the wrong. But I can’t imagine why your mother-in-law would leave everything to one sibling if she wanted both of her children to split things 50/50. And if your husband is counting on his brother’s goodwill to get an inheritance, he’s in for a rude awakening.

I’m also a bit confused about what role the accountant played in this situation. Typically, you’d need an attorney to draft legally binding documents, like a will or a trust.

But your mother-in-law isn’t required to split everything down the middle. In fact, she doesn’t have to leave your husband anything at all. It certainly sounds like your brother-in-law is being sketchy here. But sometimes parents have good reasons for leaving one sibling a greater share of their estate. For example, if one child cared for them in their later years or one sibling has greater needs than the others, a parent may choose not to distribute things evenly.



Have A Money Question?

Senior editor Robin Hartill is a certified
financial planner and the voice of Dear Penny.

Write Dear Penny

Have a tough money question?
Dear Penny wants to help! Write Dear Penny
for Practical money advice.

Dear Penny Circle Form









It’s possible to contest a will during the probate process after someone dies, but this is an uphill battle. Usually, you’d have to prove that the person lacked the mental capacity to make or change their will, or that they signed the will because of fraud or undue influence. You can also argue that the will wasn’t properly signed or witnessed in some cases.

I should note that some of the assets you mentioned, like IRAs and life insurance policies, pass through beneficiary designation rather than probate. That means whoever is listed as the beneficiary receives them regardless of what the person’s will states.

But disputing a will is a long and expensive process. Most people who mount a challenge will lose.

A better option would be for your husband to talk directly with his mother and brother about his concerns. That means your husband will have to re-establish communication with his brother. They don’t have to become best friends, but they will need to be cordial. Sometimes parents avoid discussing estate planning with their children when they know the siblings’ relationship is strained.

I think your husband is most likely to be successful if he doesn’t approach the conversation from a position of entitlement. This isn’t about making sure he gets his half. The discussion should be about making sure they understand their mother’s wishes.

Then, your husband can suggest that his mother meet with an experienced attorney to make sure her estate plan is structured in the best way for ensuring that those wishes are carried out. I’m sure an estate planning attorney would tell your husband’s mother the pitfalls of leaving everything to one sibling in hopes that they’ll split the inheritance with the other. The attorney may also suggest appointing a more neutral party as the executor of the will.

But that will be between your mother-in-law and her attorney. It’s important to understand that any attorney’s ethical obligation in this situation is to your mother-in-law. Their job isn’t to make sure your husband or his brother get the inheritance they think they deserve.

Your husband can try to foster a discussion. He can try to make it as transparent as possible to avoid disputes with his brother. But ultimately, these aren’t your husband’s decisions. This is your mother-in-law’s money, not his. You and your husband will need to live with whatever choices she makes.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to  or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Travel Freebies and Deals for 10 Fabulous U.S. Cities

After a year and a half of travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and individual health concerns, the world is opening back up and that’s music to the ears of those of us traveling again.

But even if you’ve been saving lots of money while waiting out the pandemic and are ready for some revenge travel, you’ll still want to watch your pennies. Good thing there are some great deals out there — some of them even freebies.

From hotel deals to food offerings to reduced prices for tours and even free walking tours, travel may be more affordable than ever right now. We found offers in 10 U.S. cities that will make you want to pack your bags.

Great Travel Freebies and Deals in 10 Must-Visit Cities

Seattle

Seattle has transitioned from a mid-size regional center to an innovative and modern destination. The Space Needle and Fisherman’s Wharf may be its most iconic landmarks but there’s much more to the Emerald City, along with plenty of opportunities for freebies and discounts.

Speaking of the Space Needle, bundle your tickets with a trip to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit and save $10 on admission. Be sure to check the glass exhibit closures when scheduling your trip.

A popular draw for tourists, Seattle Museum Month returns in 2022. Guests staying at participating downtown hotels in February receive a pass that entitles up to four people half price admission to over 30 museums including the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Museum of Pop Culture and The Museum of Flight.

If you’re planning a holiday trip to the Pacific Northwest, Visit Seattle has collected over a dozen special hotel packages. The Grand Hyatt Seattle’s Hyatt NightIn package includes early check-in and late check-out, a $100 credit for in room dining, at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, or Fire & Vine, 15% off in room dining, and a bath bomb. Hyatt at the Olive 8 has its own Hyatt NightIn package with champagne and a dozen oysters at the TIDAL+ restaurant, a $20 gift card to O8 Bagel Shop, and a $50 credit to Elaia Spa.

Another great way to save money is a CityPASS. Seattle CityPASS includes free entry to the Seattle Aquarium and Space Needle, along with admission to other attractions. The pass is $104 for adults (13+) and $84 for children, a savings of 46% versus paying full price for each attraction.

If rail travel appeals to you, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight Rail Experience is a great way to see two West Coast cities and take an overnight journey along one of the country’s most scenic rail corridors. This package includes two nights in Los Angeles, a one-day journey up the coast, and two nights in Seattle. The trip includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Los Angeles and a Seattle CityPASS.

You can scratch your travel itch without draining your bank account. We’ve got smart ideas for planning a travel budget. 
A group of friends take a photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco

As an urban vacation destination, few offer the appeal of San Francisco, though it can make for an expensive trip. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to enjoy this great city without breaking the bank.

Start with well-known travel sites like Travelocity or Expedia; when you book your hotel and flight together you may be able to save as much as 100% on your flight — essentially free flights. This is true for every city on this list.

Another place to check for discounts and deals is the city’s official travel site. There you’ll find freebies like a ticket to ice skate at Union Square when you book a room at the Hyatt or Marriott. Other offers to be found around the city include Villa Florence’s Welcome Back Package, which includes a bottle of wine on top of savings of up to 21% off the best booking rate. Alton Hotel’s Escape to San Francisco promotion includes two free cable car tickets and a wine flight for two featuring Habibi Wines at Bacchus Wine Bar in Russian Hill.

There are several discount passes in San Francisco that save money. These passes include the San Francisco CityPASS (savings of up to 44% off adult admission), C3 Pass (savings of up to 38%), Go San Francisco (savings of up to 58%), The San Francisco Sightseeing Pass (savings of up to 59%), or the Land & Sea Combo pass (savings of up to 18%).

Los Angeles

These days Los Angeles is much more than the entertainment capital of the world. Over the last 30 years L.A. has evolved into a preeminent multicultural travel destination with a seemingly endless number of vibrant urban neighborhoods. And of course, it’s still home to longtime tourist favorites like Disneyland, Universal Studios, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Walk of Fame.

If your idea of a Southern California vacation isn’t complete without a trip to the beach, there are several great ways to save money with discounts and freebies. The iconic art deco Georgian Hotel has a promotion which saves you 20% when you book 21 days or more in advance. A few blocks away at Palihouse Santa Monica, you can get a $20 daily dining credit at their lobby cafe and barista bar.

Hollywood is always a popular destination for visitors to Los Angeles and there’s no more authentic experience than staying at The Hollywood Roosevelt. Their California’s Calling package is available through Jan. 30, 2022 and includes two complimentary welcome drinks, a daily $30 food and beverage credit, access to movie nights, and access to yoga classes.

It’s easy to find free tickets to museums in Los Angeles. There are museums that are always free like The Getty Center and Getty Villa Museum on the Westside, and the California Science Center and The Broad downtown. Other museums have monthly free ticket days, like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). LACMA offers free admission on the second Tuesday of every month while NHM has free admission on the first Tuesday of every month except July and August.

Despite the region’s commitment to building out its public transportation system, Los Angeles is famously a driving town. Renting a car is recommended if you’re trying to hit all of the popular destinations. Car rental prices are up 70% compared with 2019, so as an alternative to booking directly from the large operators try companies like Turo, which follows an AirBnB-style business model. They offer a loyalty program where you can earn a free bonus day, while some of their hosts provide discounts when you book a week or more in advance.

Three people stand in front of the Las Vegan sign.

Las Vegas

Hotels and casinos are working hard to encourage travelers to return to Sin City and there are deep discounts on hotels, dining, shows, and attractions.

Signing up for a Casino Loyalty Club Card is a great way to get free stuff in Las Vegas. The card tracks your betting in the casinos and the points you earn can be redeemed for special rates on hotel rooms — or even a free room — free food and drinks, and discounted shows.

Wynn Rewards members save up to 30% on hotel accommodations and the Platinum Tier members get a complimentary spa credit of $100, a birthday dinner credit of $150, and two Wynn Master Class passes. Caesars Rewards gives members access to exclusive hotel rates, some as low as $10 a night, earn reward credits and enjoy member pricing at participating restaurants, and earn reward credits at participating retailers. MGM Resorts’ M life Rewards give members a discount of up to 20% off booking and the opportunity to earn free rooms, dining credits and free gaming.

Shows are a major draw for Las Vegas visitors and it’s possible to find free or discounted tickets. Discount ticket booths like Tix4Tonight are located all along the Strip and sell tickets for shows at a deep discount.

Check out more free things to do in Las Vegas, on and off the Strip.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of the smaller cities on our list, Santa Fe is the perfect destination for art lovers seeking a rustic change of pace. Located high in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, this historic city is recognized for its Pueblo architecture and artistic culture.

Santa Fe’s visitor’s bureau is offering 10% off of a food tour through February 2022, a great way to save money while exploring the city. If you’re more interested in the sweet side of things, La Fonda on the Plaza is offering a Chocolate Tour package that includes luxury accommodations for two, free tickets to the Chocolate Walking Tour and the Discovery Walking Tour, free breakfast, and a copy of the book Spirit of Chocolate by JoAnne Dodgson.

Other packages offered by the hotel with free tickets to local events or tours are the Winter Indian Market package and the Billy the Kid package. The El Dorado Hotel & Spa offers 20% off your stay with their Return to Travel promotion; simply mention code RETURN2TRAVEL when you book.

If you plan on visiting a few of the city’s museums during your stay, look to the New Mexico Culture Pass, which can be purchased at any state museum or historic site. The pass is good for a year and includes access to 11 other museums around the state.

A benefit of Santa Fe’s small size is that it’s easy to see the most important historic landmarks on foot. Book free walking tours through Santa Fe Footprints, which covers the historic Plaza, the city’s architecture, the history of the Pueblo Indians, The Atomic Secret, The Miracle Stairway, The Cathedral of St. Francis, local museums, and more.

If Florida’s theme park mecca is calling you for a vacation, our list of free things to do in Orlando will come in handy. 

New Orleans

A trip to New Orleans is like a journey to another country. Jazz music, world-renowned food, and Creole culture are central to the experience of this compact and walkable Gulf Coast city. There’s plenty of free jazz music to be had in the French Quarter, thanks to street musicians on every block.

Nola Tour Guy offers free walking tours of the Quarter, the Garden District and historic cemeteries. Of course, the guides accept donations.

Amtrak’s New Orleans Ultimate Getaway is a great place to start your trip to the Big Easy. This package starts at $269 for three days and includes hotel accommodations, dinner at a popular local restaurant, a New Orleans Pass, and your choice of a tour.

You can choose between three centrally-located hotels, either the Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter, Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome, or the Hotel Monteleone. The two-day New Orleans Pass includes free admission to the San Francisco Plantation House, Mardi Gras World, National World War II Museum, and a Creole cooking demonstration, among other options. You’ll also be able to choose between the Swamp and Bayou Tour, a Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise, or the Oak Alley Plantation Tour.

Hotels around New Orleans are offering specials through the end of 2021, including Loew’s Romance in the Big Easy package that includes a nightly $35 food and beverage credit, in-room prosecco and chocolate covered strawberries. The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Downtown New Orleans has a Coffee Krewe package that includes a $10 gift card to PJ’s or Starbucks with a one-night stay, or a Creole Cuisine Dine Around Town package with a $50 Creole cuisine gift card.

A couple sit on a park bench near trees and water in <span class=

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is another quaint, historic city that doesn’t boast the sheer number of activities as its larger counterparts, but is certainly a major tourist draw. The beauty of Charleston is that much of its allure is the architecture and rich pre-antebellum history, making it perfect to find free walking tours with WalknTours.

The Restoration Hotel has a wide range of experience packages available. Foodies can enjoy the culinary evolution of this city with the A Taste of the South offer that includes a two-night stay, a $100 credit to The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits, two tickets for a culinary tour, and complimentary breakfast. If shopping is on your mind, you can bundle your hotel stay with freebies and discounts through the Shop & Stroll Package, which includes a 15% discount on purchases at The Mercantile, a Restoration branded tote bag, and a $100 Visa gift card to use at the boutiques of King Street, the city’s main shopping drag.

Charleston’s tourism website aggregates special packages from area hotels and breaks them down into Cuisine Packages, Family Packages, and Beach Packages. For a tour of the historic roots of the Deep South, Amtrak offers a six-day travel package. The package includes a sightseeing tour of Charleston and the Magnolia Plantation, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Savannah, and a sightseeing cruise of Savannah.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. isn’t just the capital of the United States, it also bills itself as the “Capital of Free.” There are few American destinations as inspiring as D.C. and the best part is, many of the attractions have year-round free entry.

Just a few of the free museums include the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Castle, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, The National Gallery for Art, The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Archives, and the U.S. Botanic Garden.

The capital tourism department has a travel deals page with unique offers, free goodies, and discounts. There are few better ways to explore the capital than by bike, and you can save up to 20% on full-day bike rentals from Unlimited Biking. If you’d rather see the city by bike with a tour guide, Unlimited Biking is also offering 20% off morning, afternoon, and night tours.

Who doesn’t love free drinks? At Cava Libre, when you order tapas on Thursdays from 5pm-6pm, the Spanish sparkling Cava is complimentary.

The tourism site also posts specials on area hotel rooms, like Generator Washington, DC’s We Are Back reopening group rates, which start at $99 and include free WiFi. The Washington Marriott at Metro Center is encouraging tourists to get back on the city’s extensive Metro system. They don’t offer free public transportation, but when you book a room through their Grab, Go, Explore! offer, you’ll receive free goodies like a reusable and insulated picnic tote, snacks, water bottles, seasonal items, and a tour map of the city.

A person looks at the statue of Liberty from a boat in NYC.

New York City

Gentrification over the last few decades has made Manhattan an expensive destination, but the flip-side is that boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens have become tourist destinations in their own right.

The city’s tourism website posts deals where you can find discounts like a free glass of wine with a dinner order, up to 55% off a Liberty Cruise, 15% off merchandise at Carnegie Hall, or BOGO tickets at the Alice Austen House. If you want to see the iconic Central Park on bike, you can save up to half the usual price on hourly bicycle rentals

Hotels in New York City can be pricey, so finding a deal on lodging is essential to making your dollar go further. Hotels want you to plan your travel in advance and stay longer, with deep discounts when you book ahead and free nights added onto multi-day bookings. The Marriott Vacation Club Pulse in Manhattan offers 10% off a three night stay, with the discount increasing to 15% for four nights and 20% for five nights or more.

Promotions like Marriott Bonvoy Escapes are another way to save on your vacation stay. The hotel chain posts new deals every Wednesday through Sunday with savings of up to 25% for members and 20% for non-members.

Remember, bundling airfare and accommodations on the online travel agency sites is always a way to get good deals.

The Met is one of the biggest and best museums in the country, and through the end of the year admission to the museum and The Met Cloisters is pay-as-you-wish. The Intrepid Museum has 20% off general admission, and you can save on admission to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with a family pass for $82.

Chicago

From the shores of Lake Michigan to the top of Willis Tower, the Windy City has always been a tourist favorite. This Midwestern metropolis has a variety of offerings for every tourist, from big spenders to the thrifty traveler.

Start your search for discounts and freebies on Choose Chicago, the city’s official tourism website. There you’ll find lots of special offers like discounted admission to museums, food and drink credits, and reduced rate tours.

Through the site you can save 20% on an Adventure Quest, which is billed as combining the

excitement of The Amazing Race with a three-hour city tour. Save on tickets for the public Ugly Buildings Tour through Tours with Mike and see another side of this architecturally famous city.

It may not be Broadway, but Chicago has a vibrant theater scene and you can save big on tickets through Hot Tix. They have half price tickets at several theaters.

Dining is another category in which Chicago is world-class. You can save on eating out with special deals from Artango Bar & Steakhouse, which has a 20% off dinner special from Sunday to Thursday. Or, get half off wine bottles every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at Kinzie Chophouse when you purchase two entrees. Check out dining deals on Lettuce Entertain You, too.

The Chicago CityPASS is another way to bundle and save on destinations like Skydeck Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum. Along with those three attractions, you can choose two more between the Museum of Science and Industry, the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, or the Art Institute of Chicago. With this pass you’ll save half off the full price you’d pay visiting five of these destinations.

Matt Matasci is a Southern California freelance writer who writes on technology and business, plus travel and lifestyle topics.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Dear Penny: My Dad Says I Owe Him $400/Month When He Retires. Is This Fair?

Dear Penny,

Within the last year as I've learned more about finances, I’ve realized that I grew up in a financially illiterate family, and so did my husband. Both of us grew up with poor but frugal parents, and our frugality has helped us manage so far. 

We have a credit card, but we pay it off every month. We've paid off our two used cars, and we pinched pennies to pay off our school loans before our two kids were born. We bought our first house in June 2020 and have a monthly payment of about $1,600, so the only debt we have is that mortgage. I am a stay-at-home parent and my husband's salary is $70,000 before taxes, insurance, etc., is taken out. We currently have about $13,600 between our checking and savings accounts, and my husband has a 401(k) through his employer with a 50% match, which we use.

But here's the rub: When I was in college, some of my financial aid fell through. I had to face the fact that I couldn't afford to go back after that summer. I was distraught because I was young and dumb and could only think about missing my friends and boyfriend (now husband). 

I don't remember how it got smoothed over, but it did. I was allowed to go back. Again, I was young and dumb and didn't give it another thought.

Much later, I learned my father took loans in his name to pay for what my financial aid didn't cover. He paid off those loans with his and my mom's retirement savings. I didn't realize this until it was already done. 

Now they are talking about retiring in the next few years. (The date keeps shifting, but currently they're talking about 2025 at the ages of 69 and 68.) They are missionaries living overseas and plan to move to the U.S. to the same state my brother and I live in.

Because they currently have about $6,000 total to their name (no debt, but no other savings), my brother — who is financially better off than I — bought a condo this year and is renting it out until my parents retire. My understanding is that he and his wife had to juggle things to make this work. But they decided this real estate investment would help fund their own retirement someday, not just provide a place for our parents to live.

My father now wants me to help pay for his and my mom's retirement since he helped pay for my college. The loans totaled $39,769, but he had to pay interest. At first he wanted us to pay back $45,000 split into monthly payments of $400 from the month they retire until the $45,000 is paid back after about 10 years or they both pass away, whichever comes first. 

Now he's saying because of inflation, he wants us to cover “about three days a month of our retirement living costs — whatever inflated dollar figure that happens to be — for the first 15 years of our retirement, or until death. Whichever comes first.” That’s a quote from his email to me. He got that figure by taking their current monthly income, averaging 21 work days a month, and dividing it by the $400 a month, which is 3.3 days of their current income.

We’ve plateaued at our current savings level since buying our house last year. I realize we have a few years to prepare for paying $400 or whatever it will be a month, but I'm at a loss for what to do or where to start. I'm also worried that we aren't saving enough for our own retirement. What if we end up with no options like my parents and hurt our own children's finances in the future? 

I've been trying to learn about bonds, Roth IRAs, and so on. I'm so overwhelmed by how little I understand. 

This isn't legal debt, but I still owe my parents. They won't be able to live in retirement without my paying them back. My brother has already done so much by preparing housing and a used car for them. I can't ask him for more. Plus, it's my fault my parents don't have retirement savings, not my brother's.

Can you please help me decide what our next steps should be? Do we hire a financial planner to give us custom guidance? Do I need to read books and take classes to understand how to manage all of this since Google results are going over my head? 

I’m considering taking a part-time job so its entire income can go toward paying back my parents, but I don't know if that's the right move either. I can't work full time right now because our kids are elementary-age, and paying for childcare would eat up nearly the whole salary.

And don't get me started on my in-laws, who live in a different state. My father-in-law is incarcerated. My mother-in-law is living on only Social Security in my sister-in-law’s apartment. My sister-in-law is single with two elementary-aged kids and is working full time while trying to earn a teaching degree. We are wealthy compared to that side of the family. We want to help them too, but we feel stuck!

-Overwhelmed

Dear Overwhelmed,

It’s not your fault that your parents can’t afford to retire. Responsibility for that rests on your parents’ shoulders.

The money your dad paid for these loans would certainly be helpful to your parents. But it’s unlikely that $45,000 would have been enough to buy a comfortable retirement, even if your parents had left it invested.



Have A Money Question?

Senior editor Robin Hartill is a certified
financial planner and the voice of Dear Penny.

Write Dear Penny

Have a tough money question?
Dear Penny wants to help! Write Dear Penny
for Practical money advice.

Dear Penny Circle Form









If your dad intended for you to pay back the loans for your college, he should have discussed that with you at the time. But I’m not sure that this was actually his intention back then. It sounds like your parents are panicked as their retirement is approaching. Now they’re going back and trying to stick you with part of the tab, plus a nonsense inflation adjustment.

Your problem isn’t financial illiteracy. You and your husband are doing a fine job of managing your money. The problem is that a $70,000 paycheck only goes so far. Your husband makes enough to cover your family of four. But that’s not enough to pay for your parents’ retirement or your in-laws’ needs.

I don’t think you should agree to help out your parents just yet. That doesn’t mean you’re vowing to never help them out. But you need to focus on your own savings first. Since you have two young children and you’re dependent solely on your husband’s income, building up a six-month emergency fund on top of retirement savings should be the primary goal.

You can be honest here: Tell your parents that you’re not currently in a position to pay $400 a month, and you don’t know if you will be in 2025. Say that you’re grateful for their sacrifices. But make it clear that you didn’t know they were raiding retirement accounts to pay for your education.

What you should avoid is giving your parents a full accounting of your finances. Expect every piece of info you provide about your income and obligations to be used to make the case that they need your money more than you do. Don’t give them that leverage. “I’m not in a position to give you $400 a month and I’m not sure if I will be four years from now” is sufficient.

Knowing that their daughter isn’t a guaranteed source of retirement income can help guide their financial decisions over the next few years. Regardless of whether you choose to help out later on, don’t base this decision on the level of support your brother is providing. This is about what you and your family are willing and able to give.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar