Friday, December 26, 2008

Thriving On Less: free e-book

Looking for an all-in-one spiritual guide to trimming the fat from your spending and living frugally in the New Year?

Follow this link to download the free e-book Thriving on Less—Simplifying in a Tough Economy by Leo Babauta.

While it may seem like a compilation of many of the tips that you've found on this blog over the past several months, reminders are always good.

[via Lifehacker]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Free Shipping Today

Today is the first annual Free Shipping Day for many online merchants -- some who even promise to get it here by Christmas (too late for some merchants). [via Lifehacker]

Of course, we have other suggestions for holiday gifts on the cheap (used books, outside the box merchants, and homemade gift ideas) but if you want to buy something mainstream, today is the day to do it.

Photo by jeltovski

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reward Cards Get You Money Back

At the risk of sounding like a corporate shill: If you are one of those people who can't be bothered to carry reward/customer loyalty cards, these are the times to change your ways.

One example is Duane Reade. The DR offers a $5 coupon for every 100 points you earn. Although prescriptions and beer* purchases do not count, enough shampoo, toothpaste and chewing gum at 1 point per dollar and you have $5 off your next purchase before you know it. You gotta buy that stuff somewhere, so why not utilize their customer-retention program to save you $5 now and then? Register for their e-newsletters and get chances to earn double points and reach your $5 coupon that much sooner.

It's not just drug stores, of course. Many stores offer coupons and specials if you join their rewards programs and sign up for the e-mails (Borders is constantly sending me e-mails with coupons for 20%, 30% or more off.) Again, if you're going to be shopping there anyway, may as well save some green.

You can avoid making your wallet burst with all these cards by simply taping the keychain versions together into one card (I get weird looks from the cashiers here in NYC, but they still work). Or you can use the site Just One Club Card to consolidate all of your rewards cards onto one. [via The Finance Journey via Lifehacker]

*which is just a different kind of Rx.

Photo by
Jane M Sawyer / cohdra

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas: Homemade

This is a great time to exercise your creative side. Instead of spending loads of dough on gifts that might never get looked at after 12/25, give something meaningful to those you love. Oprah's Favorite Things this year included "Gratitude Boxes", which are easy to make, personal, and don't have to cost a dime.

One thing I do with my family is bake desserts. My sisters and I each bring a recipe -- cookies, cakes, puddings -- and spend a day baking in my mother's kitchen. We then box up the goodies as gifts for extended family members. The baked goods are a big hit. Plus, getting to spend the day baking with my mom and sisters is better than anything I could ever open under the tree.

I've already sung the praises of Kodak Gallery, but printing out pictures for loved ones is a great gift, especially in this age of digital photography. Pictures stay in our cameras or iPhoto and never see the side of a piece of photo paper. Transfer those photos to a cd, take it over to the 24 hour photo place, and print to your heart's content. Cheap, easy, and something anyone will appreciate.

Got a friend or loved one who is too busy to take their clothes to the dry cleaner / organize their desk / repair broken appliances? Surprise them by taking care of some of the things they can't take care of themselves! One of the best gifts I ever received was when a friend surprised me by having my broken camera repaired. And, I know I'd love it if someone offered to organize my desk at home!

There are countless things you can make or do for the people on your holiday shopping list. So, get creative and save yourself some money at the same time.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas: Outside the Box

Here are some great websites to check out if you want more creative gift ideas that won't necessarily break the bank.

Uncommon Goods has some expensive items...but some really fun, cheap items. And, there are great things for the babies in your life, too. Check it out for artwork, jewelry, and gifts made out of recycled materials. This is a fun website to explore for all the off-center people you love.

Mod Cloth is my latest discovery, per my mother of all people! Know someone who loves all things vintage? Mod Cloth is for them. And, it might be for you, too. Lots of clothing for cheap, especially the super cute shoes. And, the website is structured so you can shop by interest, which eliminates the possibility of getting distracted by the 200 items you don't need.

Mischief Maker makes an amazing chai. Sadly, it looks like you can only get it online unless you live in Minneapolis. At $7.50 a bag, plus shipping, it makes 8 cups of the most delicious chai I've ever had at home (sorry Trader Joe's, but I don't like the chai mix you offer). Considering a cup of chai at just about any cafe will run you at least $3.00 this is a great deal. The best part is you can store it in your refridgerator and reheat a cup when you're ready. Makes a great gift for the tea lovers.

And, for the hip pre-teen or the adult who just doesn't want to grow up, check out Fred Flare for cool gifts like an iPod boom box or "risky business" sunglasses. I have to admit, I'm kind of in love with the Shinetastic Clasp Purse and the Petit Four Lip Balm Set. Gifts from Fred Flare are sure to earn you serious cool points with those hard to please 13 year olds on your list.

Time's running out for online shopping, so get movin'! A lot of online sites are offering free shipping so take advantage now and save your energy for the treadmill instead of walking the mall.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Save On Your Time Warner Bill Without Haggling is a great blog and abounds with posts to cut your cable bill by threatening to cancel (or by asking for a better price or by deception).

If you want to haggle, more power to you. If you want to save money with less hassle and you have Time Warner Cable, simply use the Price Lock Guarantee option.

After I called Time Warner (1800OKCABLE) to take advantage of the Price Lock guarantee, they discounted my current service to less than what I had been paying, and I am insulated from price increases for 24 months.

Caveat: there is a penalty for early termination, but that's only if you cancel TWC service altogether. Since the wife and I are not moving any time soon, it was a no-brainer to save ourselves $12/mo ($288 over 2 years)*.

And don't forget to take advantage of the Free Movies On Demand that are probably already a part of your package.

*we have DTValue package + high-speed online. Savings vary by package.
Photo by Darren Hester

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recession Fitness

Assuming you have already cut costs by firing your personal trainer and canceling your membership to the gym you never went to, you may be finding it hard to stay motivated and keep/get yourself in shape. Here are some tips to do that for free:

  • one hundred push ups
I have a hard time getting motivated, but I found the One Hundred Push-ups regimen very easy to keep up with. The most gratifying part? Seeing results in my upper-body strength and tone within the first couple of weeks.
  • quick burst workouts
And since time is money, check out these Fast Workouts That Really Work! [from Yahoo! Health].

Even though you're not going to the gym, you might still find yourself in need of fitness clothes. Check out this previous post on where to get good looking sportswear for less.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Hour Locator

Hopefully we will soon be drinking to celebrate rather than to drown our economic sorrows. Whatever the reason, drink responsibly -- that includes paying less. Coovents uses a Google Maps mash-up to chart current happy hours around town.
(And don't forget in the links section to the right.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas: Used Books

Usually my mom, my dad, 3 brothers and I go overboard with our Christmas gift-giving - we love to give each other gifts and we love to give gifts that are a little more expensive than necessary. As we've added family members with girl/boyfriends and spouses, the spending has gotten massive.
This year, to curb our Christmas spending, we're exchanging used books - we're giving 1-2 used books to each family member. No other gifts allowed, no new books. We all love books and we all love to trawl for used books - so we've actually been having fun while we look for inexpensive but well-considered gifts for each other.

Here in NYC, we have a wealth of amazing used bookstores to poke around in. I'm a fan of The Strand for most anything.
The Housing Works Book Store is another great place to browse - and 100% of profits go directly to Housing Works.
Argosy Books on East 59th is a wonder of rare and pricey old books but the outside table is always filled with fascinating bargains - usually under $10.

Outside NYC I love: Citylights in San Francisco, Epilogue Books in Ballard WA, and Renaissance Bookshop in Milwaukee WI (which has an outpost in the Milwaukee Airport!) - Renaissance doesn't have a website but you can read a little about it here.

Let us know if you've have a favorite used bookstore here in NYC!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home Cooking Equals Love (and Saves Money)

I am huge fan of Marcella Hazan -- I used to read her cookbooks before bed when I was little (really!) and practically all my best dishes come from them. Over Thanksgiving, she wrote a lovely editorial in The NY Times about the importance of home cooking.

"Which is why, as we come together over the holidays, we should take a moment to think about how we might become cooks again. We could even begin, in these financially straitened times, by replacing store-bought presents with meals cooked at home.

After all, what experience of food can compare with eating something good made by someone you can hug? Like other forms of human affection, cooking delivers its truest and most enduring gifts when it is savored in intimacy — prepared not by a chef but by a cook and with love."

True that, Marcella.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recession About Town: Free Admission at Museum of the Moving Image

During the Holiday season and into 2009, you can see the main exhibit(s) at MoMI for free and for a longer time. Sure they're under construction, but hey, it's free (unless you feel obligated to chip in the suggested $5 donation).

Tuesdays through Fridays: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays: noon – 6:00 p.m.
Mondays: Closed

Additional Holiday Hours:
Friday through Sunday, December 26 through 28, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Monday, December 29, 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, January 3 and 4, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Photo by mconnors

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas: Luna Bazaar

Looking for inexpensive gifts for your office mates? Check out Luna Bazaar where you'll find beautiful ornaments, candles, and other colorful knick knacks that make thoughtful, simple gifts. Free shipping on orders of $150.00 or more.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're Officially Relevant!

Good news -- we are officially in a recession! According to a report by the AP, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) met and decided that, guess what, we've been in a recession since December 2007! Of course, the Bush Administration never wanted to say the dirty word, but all you hip people who read this blog and, uh, live in the real world, know we've been suffering for awhile now. That's great for us at Recession This! as we get to keep bringing you wonderful news on how to not spend money. And, since you're already a big fan you won't be losing your favorite blog anytime soon.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Home Movies

You have a box full of vacation slides, family video tapes, heck, maybe even some old movies shot on (gasp!) Super 8. You got rid of your VCR a couple years ago, and you never really owned a slide projector. And, for the life of you, you wouldn't know how to view a Super 8 film even if your old Uncle Lou gave you detailed instructions, along with stories about the "good ol' days" thrown in for free.
Don't know where to take that big box of memories? Head straight to Tanata
where you'll get a 10% discount on all digital transfers. Make your mom cry tears of joy when you relive the terrible two's. Finally get a look at that trip to Amsterdam you took ten years ago. No longer will you be behind the technological times; plus, you'll be able to get rid of that box that's been taking up space in that closet all these years.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas: Kodak Gallery

Every year we look for deals during the holidays (the 4:00a.m. trip to WalMart on Black Friday), but this year it feels especially necessary to save some money. If you don't want to spend a fortune, but want to give a gift that is creative, comes from the heart, and is inexpensive visit Kodak Gallery where you can make photo albums, photo cards, calendars, and mugs all starting at very low prices. Your parents love pictures of you; organizing a bunch in a 5 x 7 album on acid-free paper will only cost you $6.99 (starting cost for 10 pictures). And, Kodak Gallery always has some sort of deal going on, whether it's free shipping when you spend a certain amount, or discounts of 20% - 30%. I got four 5 x 7 albums, plus one of the fancy leather bound albums, for only $98.00 -- that's under $100.00 for my immediate family! And, I know it'll be a gift they'll love and have forever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Democratic Chinese Dr Pepper

China may not have democracy, but you can have a free Dr Pepper. Because Axl Rose actually finished the album Chinese Democracy before the end of 2008, Dr Pepper is honoring their promise to give every American a free soda, via a coupon on their website (starting Sunday).
Details in this article.

Photo: Jane M Sawyer / cohdra

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Travel on the Cheap

Some great sites for saving on holiday travel -- or any travel:

Ride share sites like and let you connect with people who are driving your way. Or, if you have a car, you can post your trip to find someone to split the gas.

I've never tried it, but I've heard others have survived the Chinatown Bus for travel between NYC and Boston/DC/Philadelphia and other eastern cities.

If you are not opposed to getting e-newsletters, Travelzoo finds and aggregates great travel offers and delivers them to your inbox. (You can also just visit the website.) Today's e-mail included free bus tickets in the northeast and midwest (for Q1 2009) and my pals Sean and Sue are going to Prague in January on the cheap through an offer they found there.

If you are looking for airfare and more:
First read this article in Wired Magazine (orignally found it on lifehacker).

Second use (we've mentioned it before) to find great deals and have the option to compare with Hotwire, Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Movies On Demand

My first official post! Thanks to the Recession This! Team for having me aboard.

If you have already put your Netflix subscription on hold to save a few bucks, but have kept your cable TV subscription, you can still catch up on great movies any time.

The other day, the wife and I caught A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints and The Mother via Sundance Channel On Demand -- a sub-channel of Free Movies On Demand from Time Warner Cable. It is channel 1008 in Brooklyn/Queens and Manhattan; check channel line-ups to see what other channels you might be missing out on.

If you have another provider (like RCN or Optimum) that offers the same service, let us know!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Cheap and The Tasty

If you work in Midtown and still haven't discovered Midtown Lunch, this will be the best news your wallet has gotten in a week. The blog is all about the cheap and the tasty -- two of my favorite topics. It has brought me many new food adventures and happy days away from the generic overpriced deli food. Plus, it always lists free food giveaways!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Search and Share the Wealth

From our amazing Recession Tipmaster Franke:

Still want to give to good causes but can't even afford peanut butter for your brown bag lunch? Use whenever you need to look something up on the web. First choose the charity you want to benefit, and then each time you search using their engine, a portion of ad revenues go to your charity of choice -- at no cost to you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If You're Reading This, You're Hip

The New York Times has finally announced to the world how cool we are with an article on the emergence of the Recessionista trend -- though one expert says it's just a way to justify shopping during tough economic times (as long as it's cheap it's okay) but since we were never girls that would consider buying $1235 purses I disagree. But I do like the slogan they pulled from a Sears catalog from the 1930s : Be Smart and Thrifty!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recession Education

Lately, I've been too paralyzed by fear as I watch the economy collapse around our ears...I've barely known what to think let alone what to write. Oh, also...I've been working in Louisville, KY since August so I've been out of the NYC cheap stuff loop. So, I mark my return to RT! posting as well as my determination to UNDERSTAND this thing and GET THE BETTER OF IT with a referral to This American Life.

Most of you probably already listen to Ira Glass' slightly twee but always entertaining radio show on your local NPR channel...or perhaps, like me, you do the free weekly podcast.
I want to call out 2 particularly fantastic episodes that you can listen to for FREE.
In May, they aired Episode 355: The Giant Pool of Money which began to explain (for normal people) what the mortgage crisis is and how it happened.
Just a few weeks ago, Episode 365: Another Frightening Show About the Economy followed up with more explanation of what has been happening to the economy.

I urge you savvy RT! readers to listen to both shows - they do a great job of explaining how we got to this crisis without pointing fingers - just logical explaining.
After you listen to the This American Life shows, check out the Planet Money Blog and Podcast. Created by the same team that put together the TAL shows, the blog and the podcast are keeping up with the current economic situation in the same "info for the normal guy" manner.
Now that I'm more informed, I'm starting to creep out of my cave and into the (scary) light of life in a recession.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recession Consumption: 123 Burger Shot Beer

The owners of 123 Burger Shot Beer have made recession prices their business model. As the very creative name states, it's $1 Burgers, $2 Shots, $3 Beers. This place is probably a frat infested nightmare in the later hours, but I visited on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon and we had the patio in the back to ourselves. You have to order at least 3 of the one buck burgers, but they are surprisingly tasty for what are essentially White Castle sliders. (As you can see from the photo, you could eat a lot more than 3 of them). The honey peanut wings were stupidly delish, like a satay on steriods, and all the fried sides we tried hit the spot. Plus, since everything is so cheap you feel like a king -- sure, I'll have another! Yes, bring us waffle fries!

10th Ave between 50th and 51st Street. Beware (or Rejoice, depending on your outlook): There is a little bit of a Hooterish vibe to the place (the waitress's "shorts" were shorter than her apron)...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recession Consumption: Pie for Dinner

My time in the UK rekindled my love for all things wrapped in a pastry crust, but sadly Americans are not so hip to the savory pie (other than our comfort favorite the Chicken Pot Pie). Australian friends recently escorted me to pie heaven at the Tuck Shop, where I was delighted by yummy pies with glorious fillings including veggie, Thai curry and traditional beef. Dinner for only $5!

Open late and guaranteed to absorb mass quantities of alcohol.
Tuck Shop is on 1st St between 1st and 2nd Avenue.

Quick Tips: Free Ringtones for iPhone

Thanks once again to our favorite outside contributor, Franke, for hooking us up with this fancy and fun piece of info. Don't fall victim to paying for iPhone ring tones like I did; watch the video and them for free. Who can afford to buy ring tones when we have to pay the government $700 billion?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday Night Cooking Challenge (on Wednesday)

One-Pot Rataouille, from Sunset Magazine

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes
8 ounces eggplant, rinsed and diced
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound bell peppers, diced
8 ounces zucchini, diced

I added:
Couscous, Quinoa, or pasta
Goat Cheese

The recipe also called for these ingredients but I didn’t use them and it turned out great:
8 ounces yellow summer squash, diced
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1. In your biggest frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and simmer for about a minute.
2. Add tomatoes (with juice), eggplant, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft when pierced, about 10 minutes.
3. Prepare couscous or grain of your choice according to package directions.
3. Stir in bell peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until squash is tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
4. (I skipped this step) Stir in basil and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve on top of the couscous and sprinkled with goat cheese. The goat cheese is key as it brings it to a new level of delish that will make you happy to eat it for lunch the next few days!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recessiontainment: Free TV

If you haven't discovered check it out. Catch up on some of those t.v. shows you've missed for free. That's right, no need to spend money on Netflix or buying dvds on Amazon that you'll only watch once. And, if you do it now you can catch up on all 7 episodes of Lipstick Jungle before the season 2 premier on Wednesday, September 24th at 10:00p.m. on NBC.

Loose Change

Thanks to Franke for this. And, have fun seeing how much change you can find in a day.

Recessionista: Revisiting Old Habits

Wow. Are we screwed economically or what? I don't know about you, but I am freaking out. I'm not going to pretend like I understand why or how Lehman Brothers collapsed, AIG is in the toilet, and Merrill Lynch is downgrading to "bank" status. What I do know is my already fragile financial life is doing it's own circle down the drain. But, it's fall and it's time to make wardrobe improvements. What's a budget-conscience freaked out girl to do when she feels like she can't shop, yet the air is cooling down and she wants to look cute? Go to Old Navy! Maybe you're like me and needed a break from this discount Gap because 1. you don't want to look like everyone else, 2. you feel you've outgrown it, and 3. now that you're older and making more money you should shop at grown up places. Well, I spent a little time at ON recently after a long hiatus, and was pleasantly surprised by the selection, the diversity of styles, and the accessories. ON sells shoes now! And, they're, like, totally cute! And, the jewelry is fun, bright, and adorable! I dived into the many dresses and skirts they have for fall and found many things I liked that were also flattering. The best part came when I reluctantly picked up a pair of jeans and added them to my dressing room stash. My expectations were low; I have trouble finding jeans that fit in more expensive stores, so I was sure ON could not possibly have jeans I could wear. Imagine my utter joy when I tried on what they call their "Sweetheart Fit" and they wrapped around my curves to perfection. The best part -- they cost $29.50. $29.50 for jeans! That fit! And look good! And don't look cheap! I'll be going back to get them in every wash.
So, ladies, the lesson here is revisit those places you've written off as they might surprise you. The second lesson -- that perfect thing you're looking for (jeans, for example) might be where you least expect them.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I can't believe we ladies here at Recession This! forgot to post this amazing FREE event. The New York Television Festival began on September 12th and offers free screenings of pilots made by people from all over the country. Not only are the pilot screenings free, but there are several panel discussions featuring professionals in the entertainment industry which are also open to the public for FREE. Check out NYTVF for more details. And, if you're around Wednesday afternoon at 3:30, come on down to see Living In Captivity, a 22 minute sitcom about zookeepers, written by Nicole Greevy, Uma Incrocci, and Erica Jensen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Recession Consumption: Brunch at Home

The Recession This! Girls love brunch, but sometimes $16 for a waffle can seem ridiculous. Inspired by my latest web obsession, Smitten Kitchen, and her deliciously simple recipe for huevos rancheros, I fed my Queens neighborhood posse for the price of one Manhattan brunch entree!

eggs $3.49
2 cans goya black beans $3.38
Sour cream $1.79
Shredded Cheese $5.29
Corn tortillas $1.29

Total: $15.24

It helped that I had a ton of gorgeous tomatoes to make fresh salsa with-- I can't wait to eat them again next weekend!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Recession Consumption: Puttanesca

I love brunch. I believe brunch should include a free alcoholic beverage. But, while it's never hard to find brunch in the city it's getting more and more difficult to find many restaurants that still offer the free mimosa / bloody mary / bellini / screwdriver.
What The Husband and I discovered completely on accident today was Puttanesca's brunch deal: for $8.00 they offer unlimited bloody marys, mimosas, and strawberry or peach bellinis. And, with their already really low prices (eggs benedict for $7.50 which can with a salad and potatoes) this is a pretty good deal. That is, if you have a Sunday you can spend drunk for the afternoon. The Husband and I did not partake in the unlimited alcohol as we could not face the rest of the beautiful day wasted, but the next time we can we're totally going back.
Please note: dinner here is $$$. Brunch is much less.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recession Consumption: Urbanspoon

For all you iPhone owners out there if you haven't added the application Urbanspoon stop reading and do so now. First of all, it's free. Second of all, it totally works. Say you need a cheap place to eat, but you're in an unfamiliar neighborhood. With Urbanspoon all you gotta do is pick your neighborhood, type of food you want to eat, and how much you want to spend. Hit "shake" and, like a slot machine, Urbanspoon will find your request within seconds. And, you don't even have to know what you want to eat or how much you want to spend. The application has a feature where you can lock in the the neighborhood, but keep the type of food and $ open fields open. Or, you can lock the neighborhood and type of food, but keep the $ field free. Or...well, you get the idea. The Husband and I used Urbanspoon one night before meeting friends in the East Village. We needed dinner before a night of drinking, so we plugged in "East Village" and "$"; Urbanspoon hooked us up with Velseka where we had two sandwiches, two beverages, chips and cole slaw for $18.00.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recessionista: Nothing to Wear? Call A Friend!

It happens all the time. You've got a swanky NYC party to attend and it's going to require wardrobe no less than something out of Sex & The City. Three hours before the shindig you're in your closet and nothing is right. You can't wear that BCBG dress because 3 friends who will be at the party saw you in it two months ago. That sexy yellow thingy you bought on impulse still doesn't have matching shoes or coordinating accessories. Before you panic and run for the nearest "Clothes for Ho's" pick up the phone and call someone who knows your closet. Sometimes a friend can offer a perspective on your wardrobe that you can't see because, hey, you bought those H&M pants to go with the Daffy's blouse and they can't possibly go with anything else...can they? I speak from experience. Recently, I had a loft party in Soho that I wasn't going to miss, but after destroying my closet I still had nothing to wear. I called my friend Amanda to find out what she was wearing. Sensing my problem Amanda suggested I wear "those cute denim shorts" she's seen me in, like, once. I never imagined those shorts could be anything other than super casual, but Amanda said I should pair them with a fancy top and some heels. Sure enough, I found something totally perfect in my closet to go with the Forever 21 shorts. A pair of gold heels and gold clutch, a long green and gold necklace, and gold earrings completed the outfit...and I didn't have to spend a dime. To top it off, I looked very "Soho Loft Party". So remember, you've got three life lines: always phone a friend first!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recessionista: Fabulously Fit

As a marathon runner I am clad in active wear just about every day. I've accumulated quite a running wardrobe over the years, and, admittedly, I'm a sucker for all things Nike. (Except their shoes which don't offer me enough support. But I digress.) However, in these recession times Nike prices aren't jiving with my budget, so I've done a little research on where to get good looking sportswear for less.

Let's start with Old Navy where I discovered tanks and shorts for $14.50 each. I even saw a pair of shorts on sale for $8.00. They offer a wide array of colors, though not as many styles as one might want, but compare this with Nike's $25.00 - $65.00 price tag and, well, you don't have to do the math to know that you're saving major ducats. And, if you need more encouragement, my good friend and avid runner Mariana wore a pair of Old Navy shorts on a 16 miler and said they were super comfortable.

Next I did a little on line visit to Kmart where I found a decent selection of running and yoga wear. Not much variety, but lots of cute colors. And, I noticed a scuba hoodie for $8.00. Their prices start even cheaper than Old Navy, ranging from $7.99 - $14.99.

It's hard to find good deals at places that specialize in sportswear. So, if you want to look great running in the park or in the yoga studio or even in the gym and you don't want to spend a lot of dinero get your gear from retailers that carry a variety of merchandise.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Recession Reading: Coupons are Cool?

This is old news, but I'm in Scotland so I'm a little slow (too many pints). The New York Times has called attention to a new movement-- apparently us gals at Recession This! are Frugalistas. Check out this article on the new hip hobby: clipping coupons! I tried one of those coupon sites years ago and thought they were a waste of time-- I'll have to check out and and report back. It will be hard to convert me-- I sort of enjoy the mindless browsing through the Sunday coupons... there's something soothing (and very minorly crafty) about getting out the scissors. And I don't need more time on the computer...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Quick Tips

Starbucks is becoming my new favorite company. They recognize when they need to make changes to keep their business afloat in this crazy economy. So here's a quick tip for all you coffee lovers: if you make a purchase before 2:00p.m., bring your receipt back after 2:00p.m. for a grande cold drink for $2.00. Same day only. Not only will you save some cash, but if you drink your beverage in the store ask for a porcelain mug instead of a cardboard cup, and you'll be saving a tree as well!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Recessionista: Make Money Off Your Duds

Done with those Prada shoes and Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress? Take it over to Encore, a consignment shop that buys gently used designer garb from regular people like you. Encore will price your duds and split the sale with you 50/50. Price is determined by condition, style, and label. And, they only take what's in season, so don't try to sell that gorgeous Michael Kors skort in the winter.

So now you're saying, "Recessionista, I don't have a closet full of designer wear. I'm more of a vintage girl." Guess what? You can play this game, too. Cheap Jacks will buy your 1950's and older clothes outright. No sharing cost or splitting the profits. The owner is usually there from 12:00 - 4:00 to check out your collection, but call the day before to make sure he's in. Prices vary based on condition and age of the garment.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

UK Recession Sessions

Even the Brits are worried about Credit-crunch cuisine. This article caught my eye on the front page of The Times (not the New York Times) as I shopped for bargains at the Scotmid-- my Edinburgh corner store (much nicer than any NY bodega). They recommend The Frugal Cook-- a UK version of Recession This!-- right down to the identical green layout!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Recession About Town: Free Outdoor movies!

The August heat is here and it's a challenge to find ways to avoid running your A/C all the time. Try saving on your energy bill by checking out one of the many FREE Outdoor movie festivals in the city. Most are located in breezy, open areas to keep you cool and there's one for almost every day of the week!

Monday: The always crowded but classic Bryant Park Summer Film Festival is a fun night with a Hollywood classic. Get there early to find a good spot and picnic while you wait for the sun to go down. Get a group together for Superman on August 18.

Wednesday: FOUR great movie venues!
The Museum of the Moving Image is hosting free movies at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria. Tonight's movie is a double-bill of The Red Balloon+Persepolis. Check the calendar for upcoming films.

Thompkins Square Park shows movies every other Wed night through September 19th. It's a small park, so arrive early to get an unobstructed view of the screen. The next flick is The Graduate on August 13 or get your scream on at The Shining on Sept 19.

On the West Side check out River Flicks for Grown-Ups every Wed at Hudson River Park- FREE popcorn! Tonight's movie is NYC classic Saturday Night Fever - the series ends with The Blues Brothers on August 20.

Summer on the Hudson: Movies Under the Stars brings free movies to Riverside Park on the UWS. This summer the theme is Election Night with the original Manchurian Candidate tonight, Primary Colors next Wed and ending with All the President's Men on August 20.

Thursday: Go for Movies With a View under the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn Radio DJs set the scene, RICE provides meals on site and there's even free valet bike parking from Transportation Alternatives. Don't miss next week's screening of Cabaret!

Friday: River Flicks for Kids at Hudson River Park offers family/kid friendly movies that also appeal to adults and FREE popcorn. This Friday I'll be there for my favorite kid movie, The Goonies!

And check out other special outdoor screenings:
Central Park is showing free NYC-themed movies at Rumsey Playfield every night August 19 - 23. I know running girl will be there on August 22 for her favorite movie, Moonstruck.

Finally, Rooftop Films brings films of all kinds to NYC rooftops all summer long. Venues and times vary so check the schedule for up-to-date screenings and locations. Tonight Trouble on the Water, a documentary about an aspiring rap artist and her streetwise husband who are trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, screens at Harlem Meer in Central Park.

Get out there and keep cool!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Night Cooking Challenge

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

I finally put the Crock-Pot to the test last week and made this delicious stew. (Full disclosure: I made it on a Tuesday morning and not Sunday night.) Stews are great because they last for about 3 or more meals and they're pretty cheap to make. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. When I made it I only had to buy the beef for $5.75. Thanks to for this recipe.

* 1 1/2 pounds lean stew beef
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 large onion (or 2 medium), halved and cut in 1/4 inch slices
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 large sweet potato, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
* 1/2 cup beef stock (canned, or from bouillon or base)
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas or green beans (thawed)
* salt and pepper to taste

Toss stew beef with the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet; brown beef and onion. Place sweet potato cubes in the Crock Pot; add beef and onions. Mix beef broth with cinnamon and pour over beef mixture. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours. Add peas or green beans during the last 15 to 20 minutes. Good with biscuits.
Serves 4.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Drugstore price challenge

I was given a hint several weeks ago that NYC's Bed Bath and Beyond stores (or at least, the one on 6th Ave & 18th Street) stocks super-discounted drugstore staples and toiletries. They don't sell this stuff on the Bed Bath and Beyond website, unfortunately. I had been finding good deals online at but lately, I've noticed that the prices are only competitive when they're having a sale. While Recession This! does advocate sale hunting - I find it valuable to have a reliable, reasonably priced source for basic drugstore items.

I did some price comparison between Bed Bath and Beyond(BBB),’s regular prices and ubiquitous local drugstore chain Duane-Reade (DR). It's is a very casual comparison and not every item was available at all 3 stores. To my surprise, BBB comes out significantly cheaper on every item.
Here are the results:
Please take note that prices change at the whim of the market and this is only a comparison of a few items over a few days.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Quick Tips

This in from super recession friend Jody F:

In the summer, don't turn on your air conditioner when you're cleaning your apartment. You'll save money on your energy bill and you'll save energy. Not only are you helping your pocketbook, you're helping the environment. And, who cares if you're hot and sweaty while you're cleaning -- you have to take a shower afterwards anyway.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recession About Town: One Story

A friend brought this great program to my attention. If you enjoy reading and discovering up and coming authors, check it out!

One Story is a non-profit literary magazine that features one great short story mailed to subscribers every three weeks.
A one-year subscription (that's 18 stories) is only $21. This would be an amazing gift for an avid reader. Plus, they make perfect subway reading since they're printed small enough to fit in your back pocket.

One Story also has a free monthly Cocktail Hour & Reading Series allowing their readers and writers to mingle. The readings are usually the first Friday of the month at Pianos. Each month's featured reader chooses a favorite cocktail which is sold at a fair and reduced price from 6:30pm until 8:00pm!
And if you're a writer, you can submit your story for consideration.
Recession This loves an affordable way to support new writers, intellectualize, enjoy a cocktail, and meet new folks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recessionista: Bull's Eye

I snatched up this cute outfit from Target. Made by Converse (who knew they made anything other than shoes?), it's sporty, but paired with a pair of heels takes it to the drinks-after-work level. And, the best part -- the skirt and blouse were $24.99 each. Paired with my favorite shoes it's $50.00 outfit. And, because the colors are neutral I can probably mix and match with other clothes already in my closet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dear (Recession) Diary

Dear Diary,

Today I realized that I have had the same 3 movies from Netflix sitting at home for over a month! I pay $16.99 per month for unlimited 3-at-a-time but I've been so busy finding great cheap events that I haven't even watched one movie in over 6 weeks - what a waste of money. Next month, I'll downgrade to 1-at-a-time for only $4.99. Or maybe I'll even put my account on hold for up to 90 days while I focus on my social life.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

UK Recession Sessions

Recession This! has dispatched a intrepid reporter into the field to gather recession news from around the globe. Here's the latest scoop from London: a dollar bill's worth about as much as a post-it. We can all take a break from complaining about New York prices. In fact, this weekend, go to the movies and be happy to pay $12 a ticket. I went to see Hancock (one of those movies that's enjoyable but if you think about it for one minute afterwards you realize it actually makes no sense) and it cost me 9 British Pounds. Ladies and Gentlemen, that's $18!!! Go ahead, get the popcorn-- it's still a deal!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Recession Consumption: Cheap Eats reading

Check out this week's New York Magazine. It's the Cheap Eats issue!
Lots of listings for cheap food in NYC including 10 things to eat under $5 and a $20 meal for two showdown. Lots of great new directions for eating cheap.

And if you missed the Time Out Cheap Eats issue a few weeks ago, check out the article Cheap Eats for Every Occasion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recession Consumption: Happy Hour - FISH

Being a Florida girl I've never met an oyster I didn't like, so when friends called and asked if I wanted to try the oyster special at FISH (280 Bleeker Street between 6th and 7th) I couldn't pass it up.

It was a Friday night around 6:00p.m. and we had no trouble getting a table for four. It wasn't terribly crowded or loud, so we could talk without shouting. Best of all, not only do they have the Oyster Appetizer Special -- $8.00 for half a dozen oysters plus a beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon) or a glass of red or white wine -- they also have all beers on tap during happy hour for $4.00. PBR is always $2.00. I started with a $4.00 Blue Moon as I couldn't resist the price -- where else can you get Blue Moon for 4 bucks in a restaurant? -- then moved to the PBR with my delicious oysters. If you're not looking to eat a lot, this is a great deal. Full meals at this place are not recession priced, but for a quick, fun appetizer, check it out.

We then moved on to KETTLE OF FISH (59 Christopher) which I knew nothing about, but you can read a review if you click the highlighted area. Anyway, they also had a good drink special -- $3.50 for any beers on tap -- and they were also not very crowded; we easily scored a four top and didn't have to shout to be heard.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recession hits LES

Saw this sign just yesterday outside a restaurant on Stanton St in the Lower East Side.
Has the recession become hip? Are we all cool because we're counting our pennies?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Recession About Town: Online Entertainment

Hopefully you've heard about this by now and even more hopefully you've seen it: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, brought to us all by Joss Whedon & Co.

Go to the site before midnight Sunday!
Watch 3 entertaining and charming episodes of serial online TV for FREE!
After midnight on Sunday July 20, it disappears from the internet.

If you're as big a Whedon fan as we are, go to iTunes and buy the "Season" for $4.99. Be careful that you don't buy it by the episode - you'll spend $1.99 per episode. The season is a bargain!

Recession About Town: Recession Rock!

In July the Cowboy and I went on a Rock Cruise in NY Harbor with Los Straitjackets and about 100 other music fans on a boat called the Half-Moon. The concert was part of the Rocks Off Concert Cruise series - Rocks Off is an independent concert promotion gang presenting really cool and diverse performances. The concert was...there's no other word...awesome. Surf-rock played by the coolest band you've never heard of, breezy harbor views, fireworks, The Waterfalls, and plenty of beer (at an additional cost) = one of the best nights out in NYC.
The tickets were $20 each at Ticketweb plus the cost of drinks at the cash bar. The rest of the summer cruise series is also fairly cheap - mostly $20, some shows are slightly more expensive depending on which ship is sailing. If you do most of your drinking before you get on the boat or just plan to buy 1 or 2 drinks, you can spend less than $30 per person for a rocking night. Premium beer was $6/bottle, premium liquor $9 for a shot in a plastic cup. Most of the cruises have hot food available for sale - it's of the buttery pasta, fried chicken and hot dog buffet sort. We ate at home before the show, so we didn't sample the goods. Vegetarians and vegans should probably eat at home first.

It's not free but a rock cruise is cheaper and more satifying than most concerts - for those 3 hours, you will be the coolest people you know and make your friends jealous!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recession Reading

Running Girl found this great article from the Daily Mail about Frugalistas in the UK.
Read on:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Recession This! News in a Flash

On Recession This! our favorite word is "free". Here's some free stuff you can find in NYC today:

STARBUCKS on 7th and 24th is giving away free bags of coffee. See if the one in your 'hood is doing the same and let us know.

TAHINI on 3rd and 8th is giving away free lemonade when you purchase anything. (I love their falafel pita. It's so fresh and delicious, though the falafel sandwich around the corner at MAMOUN'S is $2.00 cheaper.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick Tips: Travel This!

Cheap Airfare:

Find the best time to buy your ticket on Farecast.
Track trip prices and find out how to get a refund at Yapta.
Look for frequent flyer promotions at MileMaven.
Compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Recessionista: Recession Book buying

Reading a book is a great way to cheaply pass the time during an "economic downturn" - plus, you might even learn something.

Start at your local library - for those in the NYC area go to the New York Public Library. Once you have a library card, the NYPL website (and many other libraries) allows you to put up to 15 items on request. You can track the progress of your request online and they will deliver it to the branch of your choice. In addition, the NYPL has a "wish list" feature where you can keep track of items you want to request in the future. You hardly even have to go into the library!
Don't forget that you can also borrow CDs, DVDs, and music scores from the library as well as all sorts of useful books on personal finance & planning, DIY projects, cooking, travel, careers, graphic novels & comic anthologies, etc.

When you want to buy a book, avoid the big-box stores where you'll be lured into over-spending on full-price merchandise.

Instead, shop online:
FIRST, look for your title at The Strand online: hard to find and out-of-print titles at super discounts (half-price!). They will ship to you for an extra charge or if you live in NYC, go to one of their stores and pick up your purchase FOR FREE.

I bought these 2 books online from The Strand:
Full price, I would have paid $36.90! At The Strand, I paid $19.98 for both and I got a nice copy of an out-of-print book.

At the very least look on Amazon where prices are almost always discounted and they will ship for free if you spend a minimum of $50. Amazon also has a nice community of used book sellers who have discounted and out-of-print items. is another resource (it's much the same sellers as Amazon).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Recessionista: Simply Classy

Check out Simply Vera by Vera Wang from Kohl's.

After seeing many commercials for Vera Wang's line, I decided to check it out for myself by doing a little online browsing from the comfort of my office. (You can only do this if your boss is a big online shopper during work hours, too.) I was specifically looking to class up my wardrobe as I have one of those jobs where I can wear anything to work. In some ways it's great to be able to throw on a pair of ratty jeans and a t-shirt, especially when I'm running late. But, as a 30something chick it's time to start dressing like a woman. And, Simply Vera's line is designed for those of us who want to look sophisticated, but not uptight.

The website makes it easy to buy entire outfits, including shoes and accessories, by putting looks together that mix and match with other looks. I got this cute top, skirt, and belt for $80.67, including tax and shipping. Paired with cute strappy heels from DSW and I've got an entire outfit for under $100!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Night Cooking Challenge

A delicious summer dish that can replace those $10 midtown salads for a few days of lunches! Also great for picnics – or waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets.

This makes a TON— you could use half the pasta and make half the sauce if you get sick of leftovers quickly.

Peanut Noodles with Pears
(adapted from Real Simple)

1 box pasta (small shapes work best—you can use spaghetti but it tends to fuse into one giant peanut sauce lump)
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter (chunky will not work as well – I’ve tried it)
1 cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil*
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pears (even better if they aren’t ripe)
1 cucumber
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Chop up the pears & cucumbers & scallions while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water & drain again. Combine PB, water, vinegar, oil & salt in a bowl and stir to make a smooth sauce (this will take a few minutes of stirring but eventually will combine). Toss the sauce with pasta and toppings, add peanuts on top for garnish if you like. Stick in the fridge and eat for days.

* Yes, this recipe does require the purchase of some specialty ingredients which Recession This! is generally opposed to—stay tuned for more recipes featuring sesame oil!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quick Tips

Check out this page at The Consumerist for sites to help you Recession Proof Your Life.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Recession Consumption: Street Grub This!

Cheap food abounds on the streets of NYC.
Take a look at Street Grub for a listing of street vendors around town. The site includes price ranges and user reviews. Get in there and post your own review!

While you're at it, check out The Street Vendor Project - activism for those vendors who bring you recession meals.

Dear (Recession) Diary,

Yesterday I thought I should pop into Whole Foods for a quick & affordable dinner from their salad bar. I spent $9.73 on two blobs of Indian food. Please forgive me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recession About Town: Hiptix This!

Check out Hiptix.
Roundabout Theatre Company's discount program for people 18-36 years old.
They advertise offers for $20 tickets but I've also been offered $15 tickets to Sunday in the Park With George.

Quick Tips

Here are little things you can do to save some dough. Thanks to our pal Franke for these quick tips:

USE POWER STRIPS: Plug power vampires (e.g. cell phone chargers, iPod chargers - really any appliance that doesn't need to be left on) into a power strip and switch off the power strip when you leave the house. Those vampires are sucking power even when they're not charging anything - costing you money!
Save money on your Con Ed bill - and save Mother Earth too!
(Related tip: don't leave your computer on overnight, even in "sleep" mode.)

Way behind on your NetFlix DVDs? You can freeze your account - with no charge - for up to 3 months and keep your queue active. If you burn through all your DVRed episodes of Battlestar Galactica, you can resume at any time.



Jezebel has some great Recession fashions-- check out the cheap Target styles from Richard Chai.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Recession About Town: SPF This!

To all you folks out there who love theater but hate theater ticket prices, your savior is here. For the entire month of July the Summer Play Festival (SPF) has parked itself at The Public Theater. With two brand new plays a week (that's 8 plays for the month for those of you who are mathematically challenged) by up and coming playwrights, performed by awesome New York actors, and supported by a historic venue, you can't miss this experience -- which only cost $10.00 a ticket. That's right, I said TEN DOLLARS a ticket! This is quality theater at a hip venue, so you can be cool and get some culture all for TEN DOLLARS! I've attended this festival in the past and it is high quality, from the set design, to the directing, writing and acting. And, you won't get a better deal in New York -- unless you wait five hours in line for free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. (And you should because it's totally worth it.)

Go to SPF for all the details, including directions to the Public Theater.

And, check out some of the cheap eats in da 'hood:
Crif Dogs (1st & A)
Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches (2nd & A)
Dojo (St. Mark's)
Chickpea (3rd near St. Mark's)

Recession About Town: Wave Hill Outing - Almost FREE

A nearly free weekend day-trip to Wave Hill just might restore your belief in nature. Or at least get you out of the smelly NYC for a day among plants and garden culture.
Wave Hill is a public garden in the NW Bronx, right on the Hudson River. It is indeed on a hill, with beautiful garden-framed views of the Hudson River and the cliffs of the Palisades in NJ. The word "garden" however, doesn't do the place justice...neither does "some old, rich, dead guy's glorified yard" (which is technically what this place is). It's a quiet manicured park with gardens, old houses, lawns and a woodland all suitable for an afternoon's exploration and dotted with shady chairs and benches.
Bonus - during certain hours, it's free admission!

How to get there:
The Wave Hill visit page outlines different ways to get there.
If you decide to take Metro North, you should know that if you go on a weekend, you can get a City Pass from GCT to Riverdale for only $6.50 return. We made the mistake of buying our tickets from a kiosk so we paid the off-peak return price of $10. You can buy this City Pass at a kiosk as well...but you have to know to look for it!

What to do:
Wander the gardens. Sit on a bench and read. Enjoy a sandwich at the Wave Hill Cafe - (be warned, it is not Recession This! priced). Take a picnic to share and enjoy it in the shady Picnic Area (you can't picnic on the lawns, so leave your blanket at home). Go in the historic buildings to enjoy the AC and art exhibits. Take a free garden or gallery tour. Look for the frogs in the Water Garden.

Dear (Recession) Diary

Dear Recession Diary,

Last night I shared a reasonably priced dinner with a friend. After dinner, we passed a new gelateria in the West Village, Grom. I suggested I treat her to a gelato (it's been a rough week for my dear friend). We each got the smallest size, barely a kiddie cup - $10.30 for 2 smalls!
I'm sorry - next time I'll buy a pint at the grocery store for half that price.

Recession Consumption: Eat What's in Your Pantry

Buy some parsley on the way home. That may be all you need to make a satisfying, stupidly easy & seriously authentic Italian dinner. Aio Oio (that’s Roman Slang for pasta with garlic & oil) is what Italians throw together instead of ordering pizza when they suddenly find themselves with some drunken and hungry friends over.

Stuff you probably already have:

(unless you are one of those Manhattanites that uses their oven for extra storage)

olive oil
a box of spaghetti
red pepper flakes

All you need is parsley! And about 15 minutes.

I realize this isn’t high on the nutritional value scale. Use the Barilla Plus pasta with Protein and Omega 3s instead if you want to feel less guilty.

Boil the spaghetti with extra salt (there's no salt in the sauce). Chop 2 tablespoons parsley. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a pan on medium low with 2 teaspoons garlic (chopped very fine, or put through the garlic press) and red pepper flakes to taste (a little goes a long way-- 1/2 a teaspoon will do, add more if you like it hot!). Let the garlic turn pale gold but no darker. Drain the pasta, put it in a bowl, pour the entire contents of the pan over it and toss. Add parsley and toss again.

Dinner for under $3!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dear (Recession) Diary~

This week I brought my lunch to work three times. One big smiley face for me! But, I bought breakfast and lunch the other two days. This is bad for my bank account, Diary. One frown face for me. On the other hand, breakfast is cheap; I get it from JOHNNY'S where you can get an omelette, whole wheat toast and potatoes for $4.00. That's at least half a smiley face. I'm sorry, Diary, for abusing my bank account. I'll try harder next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recession About Town: Governor's Island outing - FREE!

During the summer weekends, 92 acres of Governor's Island are completely open to the public for picnicing, biking, walking, sight-seeing and there are a host of events scheduled for the summer that include art exhibits, concerts, activities and festivals. Admission to the park and the ferry ride are free. The Governor's Island website has more information about visiting plus a schedule of events. You can also find the ferry schedule there - most Saturdays & Sundays ferries depart every 30 minutes.

The ferry departs from the restored and totally awesome Battery Maritime Building just East of the Staten Island Ferry. If you have time to kill, check out David Byrne's Playing the Building

We went for the Jazz-Age Picnic w/Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra so our ferry ride was full of people in their '20s best despite the 100+ degree heat (seriously - people really dressed up).

At the ferry terminal, be sure to step into the waiting room to your right - that's the only public bathroom we found that was not a Pot-A-John.
There are a few food vendors scattered through the park but mostly of the "truck on the street" variety. Plan to bring a picnic lunch or organize a group to bring dishes to share - don't forget to bring water or you'll have to buy it on the Island. We shared a lunch and had fruit smooties and cookies from the Treats Truck!

Since the island is usually non-residential and only the ferry can get you there, it's one of the last remaining uncrowded spots in NYC. You can wander around the abandonded buildings and military barracks in almost suburban quiet and isolation. Dotted around the island are open buildings with art exhibits and history lessons. Peek into the windows of the shuttered buildings - eerie. Why isn't someone shooting a TV show here? This place is one of those unique spaces that lets you forget you live in NYC - plus, you get a free boat ride!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recessionista: Shop For Free

Want new clothes without spending a dime? Host a clothes swap! Uma has this party at least once a year and it is a big hit, even when the economy isn't in the toilet.

Here's what you do:
1. Invite your girlfriends to bring all their unwanted clothes to your house.
2. Create sections for dresses, pants, jeans, t-shirts, etc.
3. Everyone should draw a number to determine who goes first, second, third, etc. for the first round. This should only go one round to ensure each participant gets at least one thing they love.
4. Once each lady has had a chance to choose one favorite item, drop the formality and let the free-for-all begin.
5. When it's all over pack up the left overs and haul 'em over to your nearest Salvation Army (or any donation center). Get your friends to help you with this part. Be sure to pick up a receipt for all your donations and save it for tax time - your donations will be tax-deductable.

You don't have to limit it to just clothes. Add jewelry, books, shoes -- anything in good condition with the potential to be of interest to your friends.

Make your clothes swap especially awesome by having delicious treats available. Get your friends to contribute cheap champagne for mimosas. If you have a friend who likes to cook ask her to make something. If you have a friend who lives close to Trader Joe's ask her to pick up some of that tasty three layer dip.

Clothes swaps are a great way to get new-to-you outfits and spend time with your friends for practically no money at all.

*Check out the great dress I got from the last clothes swap, which my friends call my "Michelle Obama" dress. How much did a spend? ZERO!*