london-flagLONDON, UK: For Londoners like me old enough to remember the last recession, the signs are all too familiar: two-for-one offers at restaurants; forests of To Let (for rent) signs lining the city’s residential streets; familiar bars and shops closing down by the day (where to buy a reasonably-priced brown earthenware teapot now that Woolworth’s has gone out of business?); less of a fight to get a seat on the tube in the morning; and ridiculous recession-busting tips in the newspapers.

The home gym is my favorite so far: Why sign up to a costly health club when you can use your garden and substitute sandbags for weights?, asked the (clearly barmy) writer. Because I don’t have a garden or sandbags is why. And because the cute receptionist at my gym smiles at me, sometimes…

_buckle_0089_tIn New York, Chelsea’s contemporary art galleries are feeling the pinch. Last year, the art market only declined by about 4.5 percent, but the post-war and contemporary sectors dropped by 11 percent. In recent months, notable galleries have closed their doors, but that’s not something Michael Lyons Wier plans to do. For the owner and director of the Lyons Wier Gallery, the economic crisis has become an opportunity to let his imagination run free.

For 15 years, the Lyons Wier Gallery on 7th Avenue has featured contemporary art from painters around the globe. But in the downturn, business as usual no longer fits the bill…

stethoscope 150Cobra coverage is supposed to provide relief from health insurance worries after you get laid off, but it’s no panacea. First off, it’s expensive: A study by Families USA found that Cobra premiums eat up 30 percent of unemployment benefits for the average American; in some states, a family policy can cost more than your total benefits. Not everyone who loses their job is eligible. And, as we have personally learned, it’s not always easy to get the coverage you’re entitled to.

But what if you were never eligible in the first place? What if your company went bankrupt, or your coverage has expired? You could go uninsured, but if you’re hit with a medical crisis, you’re screwed. You could try to get individual insurance, but be prepared for sticker shock. Instead consider these creative strategies.

safe sign-200

Can Bernie Madoff and the Lehman Brothers meltdown be good for business?

Basics Plus, a chain of housewares stores in New York, is making the (tongue in cheek) pitch that your money is safer in a big metal box than in a bank. We could argue with that, but we’re too busy avoiding looking at our 401(k) statements.

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.

hanger-150His name is Willie, and he has a young granddaughter. He runs Jan Sun with his wife, Peggy, and is so known for his skill with an iron that one customer who moved across the country still mails his best shirts to New York to be pressed.

I give them my dry cleaning but not my laundry, because there are (or were) three shops on my block, and I wanted to spread my business around. My laundry goes across the street, where my guy always remembers my last name, and how to spell it correctly. When I owe him, say, $15.30, he takes only the bills and leaves the dimes on the counter.

When I lost my job at the end of 2008, I started spending more time in my neighborhood—but spending less money there. Since I don’t have to dress up for work, I have little that needs dry cleaning. My heels don’t get worn down, and when you’re not buying new clothes there’s no need to visit the tailor. Fresh flowers are an indulgence. I reluctantly began to do my own laundry.

I felt poorer, but not in the way I had expected.

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.