budgets

pliers-tool-150When your industry is shrinking like Lily Tomlin in that movie, what can you do to keep your growth on track?

As a few of the victims of the Great Media Meltdown of 2008, we’re impressed by anyone who’s found a way to beat that incredible shrinking business. Andrea Miller’s story is pretty compelling.

Miller is the CEO and founder of Tango Media, which publishes YourTango.com, a website about love and relationships, with about 700,000 monthly visitors. After an early incarnation as a magazine, Tango launched as a website and, last fall, as something else altogether…

spring-flowers-150The National Retail Federation reports that spending is down more than ten % this year for Mother’s Day gifts. Expensive jewels and perfume may not be feasible for the cash-strapped, but don’t despair. You don’t have to break the bank to make Mom smile. Here are a few ideas for priceless gifts she’ll treasure.

1. Breakfast in bed
Mom took good care of you, now it’s her turn for a little pampering. Make her breakfast in bed, complete with a small vase of fresh flowers from the garden. A fragrant tea, like jasmine or Earl Grey, is a delightful thing for her to wake up to.

2. Memory Jar
Buy a pretty jar or vase or other container and fill it with memories. Write each one on a small piece of colored paper, then fold it up. Tie a colorful bow around the container and call it a “memory jar.” You can add new memories each year for a fabulous Mother’s Day tradition.

3. Spring Flowers
Spring has sprung, and now’s the time to enjoy nature’s eye candy…

chart-down 150The New York Times reports today that states are using furloughs to save money, and save jobs. But in our daily Screwed report, we’re seeing a different trend: public sector jobs are dropping off by the thousands – by our count, of those we reported, which were mainly in the biggest cities, schools, states and cities have laid off 12,000 people in the last two months. And that’s a low estimate, since we haven’t captured them all.

Slate has attempted to capture them all by taking unemployment data reported by counties across the country – this is the raw data that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses, several months after the fact, to estimate the number of job gains and losses.

In an interactive chart that uses that data (not seasonally adjusted), Slate seems to show some good news: Would you believe 2.7 million jobs (in all sectors) gained since January 2006? We wouldn’t. So take another look: Press the play button on the chart and month after month, those gains drop off, hitting a low of 97,000 jobs gained in June 2008, to be followed by the more familiar trend — 44,000 jobs lost in July 2008, and falling. And the biggest pain came in September, when the number of jobs lost jumped from 89,000 in August to 730,000. Ouch.

house-150Is there anything that gets struck from a tightening budget faster than superfluous hotel trips? I’ve got two words for you: house swap.

Track down another couple and do the old swaparoo. They spend a weekend at your house and you stay Friday night through Sunday afternoon at their place. It’s a lot better than some boring, old staycation. But there are a few ground rules that have to be established.

First: the campground rule is in effect (AKA leave things better than you found them).

Second: no snooping. No matter how well things are hidden, busybodies can…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.three medium screws 150

The City of Chicago’s Mayor Daley may be forced to lay off up to 1,600 city workersPetro-Canada is laying off up to 200 employees121 workers could be losing their jobs in Monmouth County, NJ… Kansas City Harley-Davidson plant is firing another 70 employees as part of its restructuring… Vectrix, the electric scooter manufacturer, is laying off 60 employees

haircut and scissors 150Clothes go on sale, cars go on sale, even food goes on sale. But when was the last time your hairstylist offered you a discount?

Well, maybe now. As a way to serve their communities (and, of course, bring in business) salons around the country are offering recession specials. In Los Angeles, some are offering donation-only services, or complimentary bang trims for current customers. In New York, a few deals are specifically targeted at people who have lost their jobs. Here are a few high-end spots trimming prices:

barter-fish-hands-150For the past several years I’ve been an outsider, at least in the traditional job market. I traded my secure career in journalism (the idea of job security in journalism now seems quaint) for a less structured life on a tropical island. Though I continued to write freelance articles, made jewelry, and taught yoga, the uncertainty of collecting income from these sources inspired me to explore nontraditional forms of currency. When I still had a steady income, not to mention savings, I used cash for the basics – rent, food, and car repairs. While living in Puerto Rico, participating in an intentional community – a raw food retreat center that felt like a commune — I began engaging in barter…

shoes-150
The last time we looked, a new pair of Manolos cost about $650 and Tod’s loafers ran at least $400. Maybe last year we could afford to splurge on the newest and nicest, but for many of us, this season the shoe budget is now the rent payment. So how to make do with the shoes you have or at least find new styles that won’t put you in the red? Check out these seven ways to get the most out of your kicks this spring—without getting kicked out of your apartment.

broken-heart-150My older sister Catherine warned me.

She had picked me up from the airport a week before Christmas in 2006. As the dusk gave way to dark and the Texas horizon rolled out before us, we rode in silence—until I confessed. I had come dangerously close to cheating on Nathan (some names have been changed), my boyfriend of four years, with a friend of mine. Everything was confusing save for one devastating confirmation: I wanted to break up with Nathan…

twitter-150Still getting used to the verb “tweet?” It seems like practically everyone is Twittering.

If you haven’t set up a Twitter account yet, here’s a good reason to do so: people are putting great information out there that can help you get through the recession. Everything from finding a job to shopping deals and the latest recession news. We combed the Twittersphere to find useful, unique and consistent feeds…