spending

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

face-150It’s been said many times, many ways—it’s all in the details. You put thought into the layout of your resume, and wouldn’t send it out with a typo. Maybe you pair your wine carefully with your food. Consider applying the same principles to the way you dress.

Seemingly small things can create harmony in your look and add a subtle—but very real—polish. They show the world that you are thorough and always on the ball. During a time of uncertainty, that is the perfect message to be sending out.

Here are eight surprising concepts that will create balance and give your look a little lift, without spending big bucks on a personal stylist. The best part? Most are just using what nature gave you…

handoutLunch in Tribeca with a friend and former colleague, an Ivy Leaguer who still has his media job. He looks at me over the comfort food that he will very kindly expense and asks, casually: “So are you eligible for food stamps?”

I think he is joking. Then I realize he isn’t.

“No! Of course not.” I pause. “Wait, am I?”

I can’t remember that last time I was so taken aback by a question—much less confronted with big questions about identity, need, and most of all, my own prejudices.

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.

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.

Each week, “Joe the Trader” chronicles his experiences with life after Wall Street.

keys in hand 150While it was old news, I was still left speechless by the article a fellow member of the He-Man’s Unemployment club recently sent to me. In early January, Newsweek published “The Case for Walking Away,” in which the author suggests that 2009 is the year to file for personal bankruptcy.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, the article advises. Indeed, “the right time to file for bankruptcy is when you’re financially stuck but still have assets to protect.” It is truly a sign of the times when a major news magazine is actually advocating such a thing.

The word credit is derived from the Latin credo, “to believe.” If integrity goes who will believe anybody? The current situation is truly a crisis of credit.

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 ABCNews.com 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.

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.