When I lost one of my freelance editing gigs in mid-January, I panicked. With my husband and me in a field that is shedding jobs like there's no tomorrow, we were already on a budget.
Still, I ran the monthly expenses once again, trying to figure out where I could save: Ordering in food two times a week instead of four times a week, and then only from inexpensive places. Magazine subscriptions will not be renewed. No more buying books either -- I've dusted off the library card. Starbucks chai lattes with skim milk? history.
But there was one area that I had to splurge on: pilates. After twice hurting my back so badly that I had to lie in bed for a day or two last year, I needed to strengthen my body. So I made room in our tight budget for the $75 a week lesson.
I am not alone. According to Forbes magazine, despite the recession, Americans spent $343.2 billion since December 2008. What did they spend it on? Like me, many were willing to devote precious dollars to fitness, cheap restaurant dining, and toys for their children.
People also opened their wallets for personal care products, movie tickets, and car maintenance. And surprisingly, despite the big price tags, people couldn't do without their smart phones, netbooks, video games and consoles.
So while consumer confidence is at a 15-year low, according to Pew Research Center, there is a silver lining. Let's hope the silver lining gives way to clear skies fast.
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