If you’re a federal employee/contractor, the family or friend of a federal employee, frequenter of U.S. National Parks, a law-abiding citizen trying to file your taxes, or just a watcher of news channels you’re likely aware of the what’s happening in the United States right now – or more accurately, what isn’t happening. The government is shutdown. Almost half a million federal employees are NOT working, NOT being paid, and stranded in a whirlpool of uncertainty with no idea when their next paycheck will be. While nearly another half million employees ARE working WITHOUT pay and still no idea when they’ll see their next paycheck. And our nation’s leaders have not instilled any hope in the American people that this shutdown is going to end soon.
So in the meantime, while we have no job and no money, I’ve found some free and/or discounted things for furloughed feds to fill their days. But first, here’s a quick recap if you’re wondering how we got here.
For the sake of job security as a federal employee, I am keeping my political opinions to myself and providing news articles and direct tweets from the POTUS. Make of it what you will.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are some deals I’ve come across for furloughed Houstonians while we wait for work and paychecks. I will continue to update as I find more deals!
Rosewater Clear Lake
Rosewater is a super fancy cocktail bar owned by a NASA engineer. If the fact that he’s been invited to compete in some pretty rad competitions across the world because of his creative and unique cocktails isn’t enough to try out the bar, hopefully his “government rates” are. For the duration of the 2018/2019 shutdown Rosewater is offering 50% off any NASA Liquor single barrel selections and a “Cosmonaut” for $6. Just show your government ID.
JSC Federal Credit Union
From the JSC FCU website: JSC Federal Credit Union is dedicated to helping our members during periods of financial difficulty. Starting January 3rd, the Credit Union be offering financial relief to members who will be affected by the Government Shutdown.
0% APR. No credit check. One loan per missed paycheck. Click this link for more information.
Cinemark Discount Day
Discount Day is on Tuesday for the Cinemark 18 and XD in Webster, TX. Meaning $5 movie tickets all day long. Time to see Aquaman again!
Premiere Cinema NASA Dollar 8
NASA Dollar 8 doesn’t show new releases but it still shows new movies – the movies in the inbetween of theater release and DVD release… For TWO DOLLARS and SIXTEEN CENTS daily or FIFTY CENTS on Tuesdays! Who cares if you’re paying regular price for popcorn and soda when you get to watch a movie with the change you’ve got in between your couch cushions?
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Many people don’t know this, but as federal employees and contractors we get a BUNCH of awesome discounts to lots of places throughout Houston. Including the HMNS. And as a government employee your ticket price is $8 instead of $25. There’s also discounts on temporary exhibits, the butterfly room, and all of the mini cinema showings!
Just check the Starport website! I don’t want to spoil the discount for feds so I’m not posting the link on this site, but shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re having trouble finding the code/link for the discounted tickets!
Discovery Green hosts all kinds of family-friendly events and activities throughout the year. In January, you can visit and do some outside ice-skating on The ICE powered by Green Mountain Energy. Without a discount it’s still affordable fun but you can check the website to see if you qualify for any of the already-listed deals. And when you get there, it never hurts to ask if they do anything for furloughed feds.
If ice-skating isn’t your jam, Discovery Green still has lots to offer. There are sculptures and artwork (see Synchronicity of Color below), fountains, restaurants, parks, dog-friendly trails, and a lake to kayak or paddle boat. It’s also not too far from the Hermann Park and the Museum District. So you can make a fun-filled, almost free day out of it; pack a picnic and even your belly will be happy!
Houston Mural Tour
Time for some shameless self-promotion within my own blog. But I wrote a post a couple years ago about the different murals and pretty walls that are awesome photo spots in Houston. This shutdown is a great time to check them out and fill your photo arsenal with fun pictures to share to Instagram the rest of the year!
Glenwood Cemetery Tour
A cemetery tour might sound kind of odd, but it’s actually pretty cool! I was just there a few weeks ago for an Embry-Riddle alumni event and we got to see the graves for some very interesting (and famous) people. Like William P. Hobby, one of the Allen brothers, and a late famous movie star. It’s free and open to the public to meander the grounds and it’s pet friendly.
The Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel
The Menil Collection, located at 1533 Sul Ross St. Houston, TX 77006, is a quaint little art museum home to a surprising number of sculptures, ancient artifacts, and paintings by famous artists like Vincent van Gogh. I’m not much of an art person and I rather enjoyed my time there exploring all the collections and exhibits. You can definitely spend a day there taking it all in.
And when you’re done you can walk down the street to the Rothko Chapel. It’s open to the public from 10AM to 6PM and anyone of any denomination (or lack thereof) can worship or meditate or appreciate the art and architecture throughout the chapel. The website says you’re even allowed to bring your furbabies – just make sure to clean up after them.
The best part? Both the collection and chapel are free. So take a moment to meditate and appreciate the fact that while you may have no job and no money now at least you aren’t living the life of one of the tortured artists with work featured in the Menil who likely never had any money until after they died.
Here’s a list to get you started on some discounted fun for the rest of your furloughed days. I will continue to update as I find more deals, and I would love to hear from you if you’ve found affordable fun during the shutdown. Also feel free to share with me your #shutdownstories!
Wishing you blue skies and sunshine.