spending

credit card and money 150When it comes to money, I’m a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I have two credit cards I chose very carefully, always pay bills on time, and stay far below my credit limits. As a result, I’m sort of getting screwed.

These days, since I’m earning less money, I need my credit cards more then ever. I’m not talking about running up more credit, but the second currency I’ve built up over years of hard—yet responsible—spending.

In flush times, credit card rewards are a nice bonus. Since I lost my job, they’ve been helping to make up for my reduced cash flow. I used three months worth of American Express Membership Rewards to offset the cost of a hotel room for my cousin’s wedding. I used some to buy a toy for my oldest nephew…

house-of-money-dollars-coins-150The recession’s not over yet, folks. Jobs continue to be lost, money is still tight. So why are you still paying the same rent, mortgage, or storage fees?

One upside to the crisis is that cutting those costs may be easier than ever. In many parts of the country, landlords are willing to negotiate on rent. New federal policies have made it easier to refinance home loans. Here are seven ways to pay less—and most are even sacrifice-free…

Cold, Cold Art

by Sara Clemence on May 18, 2009 in Culture,News

Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) by Jeff Koons. Photo: Sotheby's
Is the art market on the verge of an ice age?

Last week, the all-important contemporary art auctions were held in New York. The big houses raked in tens of millions of dollars—Sotheby’s hit $47 million in its May 12 evening sale, and Christie’s did $93 million the next night—and set a few records. But no matter how they tried to spin it, those sums were relatively skimpy. Christie’s brought in three times more last year, and the big lot at Sotheby’s, Jeff Koons’ Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta), which had been shopped around for $20 million, sold for $5.5 million.

The problem isn’t just lack of enthusiastic buyers…

globe-and-airplanes-150Is this really the time to be booking an oceanside suite, basking in Italian linen sheets, indulging in butler service on the African plains?

Actually, yes. We’re not telling you to spend cash you haven’t got. But if you’re lucky enough to have time on your hands and dollars to liberate, this is an exceptional time to travel in style. Prices have declined, upgrades are abundant, and even the hottest destinations are less crowded. A fantasy trip that seemed out of reach may now be doable, thanks to deals like these…

duct-tap-roll-150The downturn has made many of us question our priorities, become more interested in spirituality, and even seek out new religions. It’s certainly true for me. I was raised a nonbeliever, and before the recession, I lived a misguided life. Even in the wake of September 11, I resisted the call.

But now all that has changed. It took losing my job, but I have let duct tape into my heart. Duct tape, it turns out, can be a miraculous cost-saver and time-saver, and in the recession, we could all use both…

homeoffice-150Last month, I lost my job as chief operating officer at a multimedia startup; because it’s my second bout of unemployment in two years, I have some idea of what works and what doesn’t. And one thing’s for sure: using the kitchen table as an office does not work.

For starters, snacking is a constant temptation. Then, there is all the paper: multiple revisions of resumes (with and without snack stains), fliers from networking events, business cards, letters from the unemployment office. During my last jobless phase, the table would be a mess at the end of each day. I’d shuffle the papers into a pile, but it never really went away, and it was never organized. So this time I consulted an expert, Kacy Paide, founder of The Inspired Office in Washington, D.C…

money-fallingPeople have said that Bill Gates is so rich, if he saw a $100 bill on the ground, it wouldn’t be worth his time to stoop and pick it up. A couple of years ago, B., a management consultant in Chicago, was arguing that he was much like bill—it wasn’t worth the effort for him seek out sales or discounts. Oh, how things have changed; now B. feels like a patsy if he’s paying full price. Still, the point about time is a good one, so here are the websites that can help you cut costs in a flash.

Groceries
Coupons are basically a way to get you to buy stuff you might not otherwise consider— not so conducive to saving money. A better bet is to figure out what products you regularly purchase, then seek out discounts…

ryan-salinetti-150Ryan M. Salinetti, 33
Suffolk County, N.Y.

Keeping: Cleaners
I’ve kept my cleaning people because I love them and I don’t want to see them suffer the way I have.

Letting Go: Employees, childcare, extras
I have a graphic design business [Breakwater Design Studio] that works with locals and local businesses. They did not just go into hibernation for the off-season—I drive down Main Street and see For Rent signs in the windows. There was a wine merchant who was doing excellent; I worked with him for six months on a website project and now he’s gone. Landscapers—their clients were V.P.s for Lehman Bros., and they were the first to get chopped. I do their graphics and marketing, so I got chopped next. It happened in three weeks. I had to lay people off. I gave up the idea that I could have a business, I moved everything home. It was horrible…

globe-and-airplanes-150Once upon a time, before airlines charged for pillows, they allowed travelers to make stopovers for free. That meant you could ski on your way to L.A., or overnight in Paris en route to Italy, without extra charge. For the most part those days are gone—especially on cheapo coach tickets. But the downturn has inspired a few major stopover deals to encourage tourism, and a number of airlines are dropping fees on stopovers.

Stopovers can be an economical way to drop extra destinations into a trip—especially places you might not otherwise hit, like Singapore. The tiny city-state is offering a bang-up deal, the Fabulous Singapore Stopover. Travel to Asia on Singapore Airlines, and get a super-discounted hotel rate…

As part of its Recession coverage, the New York Times is collecting survival tips from readers (for ordinary people, not for the newspaper itself). Some of the submissions we like:

Save on babysitting…start sleepover-pooling with other friends with kids. (sd, NYC)

Students: Don’t buy your textbooks on campus or even in a bookstore. You can easily find used copies online for much cheaper. Amazon, etc…