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Patron of the Week: Kristen Villalobos

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I love any opportunity to support the folks who support me, which is why I’m so excited to be doing this Patron of the Week series. From art to activism to non-profits, so many of the people who support Broke-Ass Stuart on Patreon do other really wonderful things as well. And this is a chance to shine light on them. Wanna be featured as Patron of the Week? Become a supporter on Patreon right here.

Our Patron of the Week this time is Kristen Villalobos. When she’s not taking adorable photos with Lady Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister (as seen above) she’s working at TenBuy, helping non-profits buy affordable housing for for San Franciscans. Sounds like she’s doing some really important work. Read more below!

Name: Kristen Villalobos

Where do you live?: Tenderloin/Civic Center border

Occupation: Sales Agent with TenBuy Commercial / Tenants Buying Real Estate, a mission driven real estate brokerage founded by a former tenants rights attorney. We work with various non-profits, assisting them in purchasing multi unit buildings using funds from the Mayor’s Office of Housing with an aim to ensure long-term affordable housing in at-risk neighborhoods (which, at this point, could describe most of the city). We also work with tenants, organizing them into TIC’s so they may purchase their buildings directly from their landlords. Both facets of the business are incredibly rewarding, and I’m so happy to be involved in the work of stabilizing housing!

What’s a project you’re working on?: A joint project with my husband turning a river tossed log into a headboard using macrame and air plants. My parents live on the north fork of the Tuolumne River, and last winter’s storms sent a wealth of trees, logs, pieces of old bridges, etc to their shore, so we’ve been using a lot of it in various home projects. I have assured my husband that the macrame won’t be ‘too feminine’ when it’s finished. Wish us luck!

What is an accomplishment you’re really proud of?: Building a life in San Francisco and managing to stay in spite of the cost of living. I first visited the city when I was 10 years old, and knew in my heart that this was where I belonged. I’m from a smallish town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s, and used to be an actress (always broke), and moving to San Francisco seemed like an impossible task. All anyone ever said was how expensive it was to live here, and I knew that as an artist I was always going to be broke, even if I did manage to find a place to live. My big housing break happened when an actress I had met doing Shakespeare in the mountains allowed me to sublet her room for the summer while she took an out of town gig. She also helped connect me with the roommates I spent the next 3 years living with. The cost of living has beaten me up many times over the years, and I’ve been on the verge of giving up and moving away a few times, but I always managed to figure out a new source of income/ or a new way to make it work (quitting acting helped, sadly). I may not be born and bred in SF, but I chose to be a San Franciscan, and I have fought to remain one! This town has my heart.

Best money saving tip: Doing food prep on weekends for healthy lunch and dinners all week. No matter how cheap it is, lunch and dinner out really adds up. Also, once I realized how much cheaper it is to buy whole chickens (versus cut up, de-boned and/or de-skinned), I haven’t been able to make myself buy anything else. I will buy 3 whole chickens, butcher them all at once, then freeze the pieces into individual meals with various marinades. I throw the carcasses in my instant pot and make bone broth, freezing what I won’t use right away. When you use the broth to make rice, quinoa, etc, yowza! Delicious flavor!

What do you refuse to spend money on?:  Pre-cut chicken, pre-cut vegetables, pre-cut fruit. The less ‘processing’ that happens before you get the food, the less chance there is that it will be contaminated, or have ‘bad’ things added to it. Plus, why would I pay someone else to do something that I can do myself with such little effort?

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: An iComfort Serta Mattress. My husband cashed out a few weeks worth of vacation when he left a job a few years ago, and we bought a mattress with the money.

How’d that feel?: Very grown up and Amazing. And it continues to feel amazing. Every night. Everyone in the world deserves to sleep on a comfortable bed. It has raised the quality of our lives dramatically! I don’t regret one penny of that purchase.

Favorite cheap eat: Beef Pho (Rare and Well done!) at Turtle Tower, or Veggie Omelet at Allstar Donuts and Burgers. I feel very lucky to live in the Tenderloin with all the delicious and cheap eats!

Favorite dive bar: Harry Harrington’s Pub- it’s right around the corner from my place, and their Bloody Mary’s are fantastic (just as advertised!).

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: I once traded DSW a few hours of my time and my thoughts on ‘style’ for a gift card that I used to buy leather riding boots. Does that count? I felt pretty clever for scoring that situation.

Favorite free thing to do: Taking nieces and nephews to the awesome playgrounds we have in this town. The new Civic Center playground is fantastic!

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: If I woke up a multi-millionaire, I’d buy a single family home in San Francisco (can’t forget to keep some aside for taxes!!). Just regular old millionaire? A condo in San Francisco. I’d like to squeeze in a big trip to at least a few continents too, but since I’d want at least two bedrooms and some outdoor space without going too far out from downtown, I don’t think I could swing it all on a million dollars. Isn’t that sad? At the heart of it all, what I really want is real stability in housing. I don’t ever want to have to say goodbye to this town.

One album that everyone should listen to: Paul Simon Concert in the Park- everything about that album makes my heart happy. Also, I just discovered Brandi Carlile, and I’m mildly obsessed.

Best hangover cure: Ginger Kombucha (I brew my own, because of course I do) then a burrito from Taqueria Castillito. And water. Always water. Copious amounts of water. If all that fails, get drunk again and let tomorrow-you deal with it.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".