The B-Side

Money doesn’t grow on Christmas trees 🤑

Plus: ☕ The ultimate hot cocoa roundup

The B-Side
Welcome to The B-Side, the daily dose of news you actually want to hear. Katie Cole

It’s Monday, Boston.

🚃 It’s also the first day of the Green Line’s D branch shutdown. That’s right, today through Dec. 20, the D Line will be OOO from Riverside to Kenmore and replaced with shuttle buses. Godspeed, D-branch riders! 

⛴️ Annnnd MBTA morning ferry service is canceled today due to risk of high winds. All service is expected to resume by 2 p.m. You can find details here. Godspeed, ferry commuters!

👀 What’s on tap today:

  • Shuttle bus season continues
  • Sweet Southwest deals
  • Mass.’ 2024 concert lineup

Up first…


Bah humbug-free holiday budgeting

Illustration by Gia Orsino

The numbers don’t lie: Student loan repayments are serving Scrooge this holiday season. 76% of respondents fromU.S. News & World Report survey of former college studentssaid student debt will cut into their holiday spending budget (more than 50% said they’ll spend less on gifts). And the feelings are mutual among B-Side readers: One captured the state of their budget post-loan repayments with the sobbing emoji. 


So we asked a few experts how to navigate this season when money’s running low. Here’s what they said:

💰 Set expectations. To avoid the awkward moment when you realize you spent $20 on a gift and your friend spent $100. Danielle Piskadlo, executive director of Women’s Money Matters, is pro setting price limits upfront (her team’s gift swap limit is $15). “Open conversations are tough to have,” she said, “and unfortunately just really important.”

😫 Don’t give into FOMO. Companies capitalize on this emotionally supercharged season by convincing consumers they need their products to ensure the most magical holiday (and that everyone is doing it), Piskadlo said. But she reminds folks that companies like “Walmart [are] not your friend … they’re marketing to you like a bunch of crap that you may not need right because they make a ton of money.” 

🤑 Avoid buy now, pay later apps like the plague. Platforms like Klarna and Afterpay are essentially cooler, rebranded versions of layaway, and they’re “so, so, tempting,” said financial literacy consultant Robert Miller, especially for big ticket items this time of year. But he reminds folks that, depending on the app, “if you miss one payment, the interest rate is over 30%.”


💻 Make Facebook your friend. Tired: Regifting. Wired: Regifting something you found on a buy nothing group. Michael Orr, an admin for Cambridge’s Buy Nothing Facebook groups, thinks they offer an affordable and environmentally-conscious way to find something unique you couldn’t do in-store. He’s gifted everything from bird houses to bike racks, and backs gifting plants and plant trimmings, too. 

 Time = money. If your boss uses that line, so can you! Shennamu Nagle, communication and marketing manager for Women’s Money Matters, is organizing an adult sleepover with her friends this year instead of exchanging gifts. “We all missed each other, and we’re all busy adults now,” she said. “So we’re just going to get together and watch movies and play games.”

🙅 You can always just say “no.” “I think opting out is taking back your power,” Piskaldo said. “Just say no and be kind to yourself. You can’t do it all. No one expects that.” Amen.


Your money is coming home

🏠 Get ready for a reunion you won’t want to miss. Imagine reconnecting with an old friend — now, picture that friend being your long-lost money. The Massachusetts State Treasury is making it happen, with more than $3 billion in unclaimed property — including forgotten savings, checks, stocks, and more — waiting to be rediscovered. Simply search your name (it takes under a minute) to find out if you have unclaimed property that belongs to you.


Quick & dirty headlines

Image: Lane Turner/Globe Staff 


🚃 It’s (still) shuttle bus season on the GLX. The MBTA announced their work to fix the GLX will not be completed by its original deadline (today). So the evening shuttle buses that have been in place since Nov. 27 will continue for “at least” another seven days through Dec. 17. Apparently, GLX Constructors (the plan’s contractor) has requested more time to get the work done correctly, which, while inconvenient, at least indicates that this time, things might be done correctly. Only time will tell.

🚉 Speaking of the MBTA … They’ve been making headlines lately both for good and for bad. Starting with the good: The MBTA board is prepping a low income fare program that would expand upon their current reduced fare options which are already available for certain groups like students, seniors, and people with disabilities. And for the bad: Even after cracking down on worker safety earlier this year after several near-miss incidents, two more worker safety incidents in late November were recently reported — including a worker injury and a close call with an electrified third rail.

✈️ Enough about trains, let’s talk planes. Specifically, let’s talk airfare dealsSouthwest has launched a sale on one-way fares for trips from early January to late May 2024. The deal applies to Tuesday and Wednesday “Wanna Get Away” fares, and flights out of Boston start at $65. The only catch is that tickets need to be bought 21 days in advance of your trip. The sale runs until Dec. 18. Check it out here, and happy travels!


🤩 Mass.’ 2024 concert lineup just keeps growing. P!nk is coming back to Gillette for the second year in a row next August as a part of her now-extended nationwide stadium tour. Tickets will go on sale Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. You can grab them here. Plus: Two 80’s sensations are coming to Fenway the same month: Def Leppard and Journey will be stopping by as a part of their co-headlined tour and they’ll be joined by Heart. You can get tickets at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15 here.


Weekend plans

🍪 Design your own freshly baked brownstone. Also known as a gingerbread house. Choose your construction — or confection — site: Tonight at BPL Codman SquareLoretta’s Last Call, or Harpoon Brewery

🍝 Get the pasta making skills you knead. Join Seven Hills Pasta Co. at Boston Public Market on Friday for a pasta making class — mountains of flour, golden dough balls, savory sauces,the whole works. 

☠️ Get to the bottom of some drama over dinner. Buy a ticket to Thursday’s “Theater Camp” Murder Mystery Dinner at Trident Booksellers. Now you’ve got a case to solve! 

🕎 Continue the celebration of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the perfect time to learn all about olive oil’s flavors and origins. Head to Olive Connection in Brookline on Wednesday for their tasting and candle lighting


🧀 Taste mountains of cheese. Or was it cheese from the mountains? Find out on Thursday at curds&co for their Alpine cheese tasting: “the hills (are giant wheels of cheese, and they) have eyes”. 

— Written by Claire Nicholas


The ultimate hot chocolate spots

Photo courtesy of Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop. Illustration by Gia Orsino.

IMO, hot chocolate is arguably the ultimate holiday treat. There are infinite flavors and varieties, intense debates over levels of sweetness and richness, marshmallow ratios, and more. And Boston has no shortage of options when it comes to grabbing a cup.

Fortunately for us, made the work of deciding where to sip a million times easier by rounding up their must-try spots for hot cocoa here in Boston, from undisputed classics to cocoa with a modern twist (hello, halvah hot cocoa!). You can check out their list here

And if you need more, we tried and reviewed a bunch of reader-recommended hot cocoa last year, which you can find part one of here, and part two here.

— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario

☕ Thanks for reading! This might be controversial, but I’m a peppermint hot chocolate kind of gal, myself.

💜 Special Shoutout to today’s sponsor, the Massachusetts State Treasury, for helping residents reclaim what’s rightfully theirs

🍪 The results are in: For B-Siders, there is one holiday treat that manages to edge out hot cocoa: Cookies! 35% of readers voted them as the ultimate holiday treat. One said: “If I can’t decapitate a gingerbread man, is it really Christmas?”


💃 Keep up with us @BostonBSide on IGTikTok, and Twitter. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected] or [email protected].