apartment-office-150Too many of us never expected our spare rooms or entire apartments would become our cubicles, too. With that in mind, the New York Times signed up five interior designers and five new homeworkers and paired them up to find new solutions for their space.

I was fortunate enough to be one of them.

When the process began, I had visions of four-digit expenditures (to be paid by the newspaper or the designers) on major renovations to turn this crowded and sometimes gloomy 12×17 space into a livable and workable environment.

It turns out, it only took $326 and a designer with some good ideas.

Here are a few small things you can do to turn any home area into a workspace that is comfortable and inspiring—and where you can pull off professional meetings.

hairCan’t afford to drop a Benjamin on your lid? Don’t despair. The Empire Beauty School, located in mid-town Manhattan near the Empire State Building, has a full-service student salon where you can tame your mane for the price of a Starbucks latte…

south-africaResorts all over the world are responding to the recession by offering staggering luxury deals at exotic and beautiful destinations. Here are three places where it’s easy to travel well for less.

South Africa
With the recent devaluation of the Rand against the dollar, it is a great time for Americans to visit. The Mantis Collection, a prestigious group of game reserves and hotels in South Africa, is offering a summer package starting at $601.48* per person. You’ll spend two nights at one of the country’s five star Game Reserve and three nights at a Last Word Retreat, Cape Town’s very charming boutique accommodations.

stjohn-150In the recession, extreme spending has all but been replaced by radical frugality, but even on a budget, you still need to live well and take care of yourself.

Whether you’re laid-off and living on severance or savings, job hunting, or imagining the “disruptive innovation” (my new favorite business phrase) that will lead to a better business, some downtime to think and rejuvenate is vital. Even in a recession it’s important to take some time to chill out. It’s even possible to do so luxuriously – if you just re-define luxury. That’s exactly what I did.

house-150As a native of Cleveland, Ohio, I was dismayed by the devastating portrait of the city’s flat-lining real estate market in Sunday’s New York Times. Flippers and other opportunists continue to be propped up by laws in their favor and banks who pull a “what, me?” shrug instead of stepping up to responsibility. Foreclosed on and abandoned homes have turned some neighborhoods into ghost towns. Cleveland is said to be a bellwether of the teetering real estate market.

It turns out lots of places are like Cleveland, with home values underwater. Business Week has identified some of them as targets for aspiring homeowners.

Looking back at the Great Depression to see the path ahead.

Will the Recession make women fat, or will we stop killing ourselves to be thin?

Body size is a moveable feast, and it changes according to cultural flux. After a long reign of fragile-looking, emaciated models, a strong, athletic form look may be making a comeback. First Lady Michelle Obama’s muscular shape recently graced the cover of Vogue, announcing a new look for the new reality. At the Academy Awards, Kate Winslett was queen of the evening, her gloriously curvaceous figure the envy of all. In interviews she announced – shocker!—that she is too busy to exercise and eats whatever she wants. Oprah Winfrey praised her “real” figure, telegraphing a message to women across American that it’s okay to sport a more natural look. The First Lady and the Academy Award Winner, substantial in both intellect and physicality, flaunt bodies that suggest strength and purpose. They look independent, normal, and accessible.

martini-2Current price of one martini at the Waldorf Astoria’s Bull and Bear Bar: $18.50. That same amount will buy you these items, with change to spare:

  1. 18 slices of pizza at 99cent Fresh Slice
  2. 10 shares Ford Motor Company Stock
  3. Round-trip ticket, NY-Boston on BoltBus
  4. 3 pitchers of beer at Rudy’s Bar & Grill, + free hot dogs (before 5pm)

Stylist Julie Greene offers expert advice on looking fierce in a financial crisis.

mirrorFor the last three weeks, I’ve been encouraging you to let go of your closet clutter, get more mileage out of the clothes you own, and make a little cash from your cast-offs. Now it’s time to work on developing your overall sense of style.

What Wedding?

by Sara Clemence on March 6, 2009 in Lifestyle,Money

money bouquet 150Last spring, quite a few people—from Kiplinger to the National Association of Catering Executives—were suggesting that weddings might be recession-proof. As with so many ideas in the early stages of the downturn, that proved to be wrong. Everyone is getting pummeled now, including couples, vendors and honeymoon locations.

What’s an engaged pair to do? DIY Bride offers some practical advice on how to recession-proof the big day.

And The Royal Plantation Collection and are hosting an online contest for a free honeymoon. Send a video (by March 9) explaining how the economy has affected your plans, and you could receive a five-day, four-night trip.

cruiseThink you can’t afford a cruise? Think again. The Recession is bringing on a boatlaod of cruise bargains. We’re talking $50 per day for a four-day trip from Miami to the Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Lines. A seven-day Alaska cruise, usually more than $2,000 per person, for $499. Cruise bargains are so plentiful that Ken Heit of World Wide Cruises in Ft. Lauderdale recently suggested that “if you live in an expensive city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York, it might be cheaper right now to spend a week on a cruise ship than to stay at home.” Right. That’s as good excuse as any to check out of bone-chilling NYC.