Fresh Ideas For Living Well In a Recession?
November 7, 2008 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Who has interesting ideas about how to live, travel, dress, and eat frugally during a recession?

I've become quite obsessed lately with the recession and the things people are doing to weather it. I'm working freelance and, for now, close to my own subsistence level, so it's timely that the rest of the country is starting to wonder how to live well on less, too.

The other day, I began looking around for blogs that are specifically dedicated to cooking for the recession/new-great-depression/financial downturn we're in, and was surprised not to find much.

I *know* there have to be people and websites out there that have innovative lifestyle ideas for these troubled times. But what are they?
posted by toomuchkatherine to Work & Money (13 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
This website might be of interest...they are looking to save you $1,000 in 30 days.
posted by Grither at 8:18 AM on November 7, 2008

Well there's always sites like DealHack, but I don't think that's what you're looking for. Living frugally doesn't require "innovation". Frugality has always been with us, and it requires less creativity than it does sacrifice. Sure, they are creative ways to spruce things up or shop for deals, but when it comes down to it, if you aren't willing to do without x, there's nothing to be done for you.

Just look for cheaper alternatives. Instead of eating out, cook more. Switch to rice 'n beans instead of pre-prepared food. Use a mop and bucket instead of those silly disposable Swifter things. Watch fewer movies. Cancel that Netflix subscription. Drink less (alcohol that is). Stop going to Starbucks. Shop at JC Penney's or even consignment stores instead of Macy's or those overpriced boutiques at the mall. Buy a used car. Drive to the Jersey Shore instead of taking that cruise.

None of these are particularly new ideas, and I don't know of any websites dedicated to the proposition that you have to live within your means. This isn't difficult intellectually, even if it is difficult to make yourself actually do.
posted by valkyryn at 8:25 AM on November 7, 2008

You could check out The Simple Dollar.
posted by xiaolongbao at 8:26 AM on November 7, 2008

Get Rich Slowly has interesting daily articles about getting out of debt, spending mindfully, and managing one's money - however big or small one's fortune may be.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:28 AM on November 7, 2008

There was a recent FPP that might interest you.
posted by mattbucher at 8:28 AM on November 7, 2008

The most recent issue of New York Magazine was issued with a huge mantra on the cover: Live Well, Spend Less.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:33 AM on November 7, 2008

Also try Wise Bread.
posted by attercoppe at 8:36 AM on November 7, 2008

This is the thread on AskMe that I think has the best compilation of advice because it ranges from how to get a better cell phone deal advice to "stop using the phone entirely" advice. Frugality is a tough angle because a lot of it depends on how far you're willing to go in the interests of being frugal compared to what you want to keep in your lifestyle for various reasons. So, you mention travel in your question which is fine, travel is fun and sometimes necessary for work or whatever. However to be truly frugal you stay home. Not everyone's cup of tea [and I'm frugal and I don't stay home] but I think a good assessment of how to live that lifestyle involves some introspection into how you currently live and what compromises you are willing to make along the contiinuum of cash vs comfort.

There are tons of blogs that deal with this sort of topic so I suspect if you're not finding them you're maybe using the wrong words or angling in the wrong direction. People who have been doing this sort of thing for a while -- I think of Amy Daczyzyn and the tightwad gazette -- have been doing it since before the economic downturns and they have whole networks of people sharing ideas and tips. Just Googling her and the people who link to her will find a lot of like minded people. Now you may or may not be interested in rinsing out all your supermarket bags in order to reuse them, so you'll need to fiddle with the knobs a little bit. Other good googleable terms are words like simple, sustainability, "living on less" that sort of thing.

At the risk of being a little soapboxish about this, I'll copy something from the long comment I wrote on that other quesiton I linked to.
So with that in mind, my short list. Anything you say "eww, no" to is somewhere that you and I draw the line differently, naturally. Actually I don't do all of these things, but I've considered all of them.

- go bare bones on personal hygeine, develop a style that works on the cheap. eschew hair gunk, haircuts, smelly stuff you don't get free, pit wax and anything that isn't soap. Buy soap on sale. Get it for birthdays. Shower infrequently.
- Anything you pay money for where you live, try to get it elsewhere. Hot water? Shower at the gym or at work (note I consider my $20/mo for the gym mission critical for sanity and sociability). Trash pickup? Compost and recycle within an inch of your life and buy stuff that is as little packaged as possible. Electricity, sit in the dark, sleep and rise with the sun.
- Stop buying clothes. Stop buying music, books, movies, gadgets.
- Do not own a car. Do not own a pet. Do not own plants.
- Never redecorate. Never vacation. Never have friends over.
- Never change your style.
posted by jessamyn at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Who has interesting ideas about how to live, travel, dress, and eat frugally...?

Henry David Thoreau.
posted by neuron at 8:44 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Zen Habits has a lot of posts about living a simple and frugal life.
posted by ginagina at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Economic Crisis Diet

Another excellent site devoted to simplifying our lives in practical ways:

New American Dreams
posted by RingerChopChop at 9:49 AM on November 7, 2008

This couple went on a dollar-a-day diet. NY Times wrote a short piece on them.
posted by altcountryman at 3:41 PM on November 7, 2008

as someone who has been living on very little for fifteen years now, i've been thinking about starting a blog for just this sort of thing. i'll let you know if i do.

Amy Daczyczyn/The Tightwad Gazette books were my bibles for the first year. after that, it's really been about incremental changes, and practice, practice, practice. simply adding another frugal skill or practice per week or per month can make your life look very different in a year.

in our family, for instance, we've recently resolved to *never* buy another loaf of bread or container of bulk powdered veggie broth. reducing one's purchasing of packaged food down to eating nearly entirely from scratch makes a huge difference. but it's not really something you can do all of a sudden comfortably. you need to build a stockpile of spices and supplies, for one thing.

learning to never waste is a learned skill, IMO.
posted by RedEmma at 9:43 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

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