Heart of PenniesToday Citigroup said it would give mortgage relief to people who lose their jobs, temporarily reducing payments for qualified borrowers to $500 a month for three months.

It always struck us as somewhat unjust that businesses offered the best deals to the people who least needed them—free designer clothing to celebrities, lavish dinners for high-profile editors, discounts to wealthy patrons. Often, the more money you make, the more perks you get. (Not that we have ever willingly declined said perks…)

Citi’s new policy isn’t exactly a reversal of that trend. But it is another example of companies extending a hand to people who have are finding themselves in, um, “changed circumstances.” While it doesn’t get the people with money to spend more, maybe it will get the broke to cut back less.

There are many smaller examples around the country, from practical to just plain pointless:

Each week, stylist Julie Greene offers expert advice on looking fierce in a financial crisis.

money-on-clothesline 150You’ve tried them on, mulled it over, considered repairs, and still can’t make certain clothes work for you. So they’ve been voted out of your closet, have been bid “Auf Wiedersehen.” Or, maybe you’ve decided to let go of some beloved pieces in order to put some money in your pocket.

Fortunately, one Fashionista’s trash is a Recessionista’s treasure (this goes for guys, too). As a former vintage clothing store-owner and power Ebay seller, I am all too familiar with the second-hand clothing market and how to get the most out of what you no longer need. Here are five ways to say farewell to your unwanted clothes with no regret or guilt—only gain.

credit card and moneyNo, you’re not imagining it—just as everyone in the country is more strapped for cash, lenders have been raising interest rates and fees on credit cards. Miss a payment and your interest rate could rocket to 30 percent; continue to carry a balance and you could be slapped with a $10 charge.

That’s bad news in the best of times; if you’ve been laid off, those are extras you simply can’t afford.

We’ve already shared the latest and greatest information on handling your mortgage, especially if you’re in a financial crisis. Here’s the most current advice on controlling your credit card debt. Get out before you become a victim of what some see as the next wave of the economic downturn.

Dealing with Debt: Mortgages

by Sara Clemence on February 25, 2009 in Money

red houses in circleIn this economy, things change fast. One day you have job, the next you don’t. Companies fold within days. Investments evaporate.

In a recent story about how to handle a layoff, we suggested that you take a look at your finances—particularly what you owe—so that you can start planning. But that actually holds true for everyone these days.

Most of us have some sort of debt. And even if you have a job, the bonus you normally rely on to pay off credit card bills has probably shrunk or vanished. Freelancers and consultants still have student loan obligations, even as their gigs are being cut. Many people are taking salary reductions, but continue to carry mortgages. And just how secure is your job, anyway?

Meanwhile, as credit markets shift at lightning speed, it’s not easy to find up-to-date information. So we’re doing it for you, compiling the most current advice on managing debt, starting with mortgages.


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

If past crises are any indication, a cash shortage won’t stop the wheels of commerce.

During the1930s, people without money started trading goods and services as a way to keep themselves afloat. Workers exchanged labor for room and board. Students traded farm produce for tuition. Moonshiners, bless them, exchanged goods with just about everybody.

People with skills in high demand did especially well. Someone who could bake delicious bread or sew quality clothing could draw people from miles around to barter for their products. Eventually, people established more formalized barter groups like The Unemployed Citizens League, which had 200,000 members across the country at its peak…

Profiles of people who are seeing opportunity in a pile of economic lemons.

James YoungJames Young
East Hampton, N.Y.
Before recession:
Commercial real estate broker
Now: Co-founder of Rosehip Partners, a Hamptons real estate business

In the Hamptons, one of the most privileged parts of the country, the real estate boom is firmly at an end. The number of sales was down 40 percent in 2008. Prices are being slashed on multi-million-dollar mansions. Lavish spec houses sit empty.

It would seem like the worst possible time to start a real estate company. But last summer, James Young and Joe Kazickas founded Rosehip Partners, an agency that covers the east end of Long Island, from West Hampton to Montauk. In September, as the recession was gathering speed, they unveiled their website,

store sign“I just felt I’d had it and I wanted to say my piece,” says Rita Brookoff, owner of Legacy NYC, a designer clothing boutique in SoHo in New York City. “I’m trying to fight back. I’m sick of the doom and gloom. I know the stock market is down, but we don’t have to be.”

Read more…

Mickey RourkeThrough the extraordinary arc of his career, Mickey Rourke has personified our obsessions, our excesses, and now, finally, the possibility of our redemption.

Way back in the mid-eighties, in 91/2 Weeks, he cast his knowing gaze on Kim Basinger, playing an arty type who works for peanuts in a SoHo gallery. New York City is grey and gritty, filled with predatory squeegee men and homeless bodies that the resigned masses hopscotch over on their morning commute…

Read more…

Suitcase with First Aid CrossTough economic times may tempt you to dispense with insurance when you plan your getaway. Please resist! The quickest way to compromise your bank account, not to mention your sanity, is to start thinking of insurance as a luxury.

The main travel insurance plans available are trip insurance and travel medical.

Read more…

alexander-hamilton2We’ve just been poking around the West Indian island of Nevis, the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. This man knew a little something about money, and there’s a renewed interest today in his prescient ideas about the American economy.

Alexander Hamilton was the first US Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and a bit of a rake. He was a thoroughly modern man who envisioned a strong federal government and a strong treasury, a national banking system, a stock market and foreign trade policy that balanced openness with protections…

Read more…