The New York Times has a project page set up to gather the stories that make up "the human side of the global recession". We just watched a video of a young Philadelphia artist who tells a bit about his financial reality - by working two different jobs at the museum for 36 hours a week he can bring home $1000 a month. He breaks that down to $475 for rent, $75 for utilities, $200 to savings, $50 - 75 for food and the rest goes to supplies, photo processing and his payday treat of a cup of coffee and a "saccharine sweet" apple fritter. A simple existence that allows him to make his art, he's got his survival strategies down....
...like baking his own bread and utilizing art supplies that are being discarded by the museum.
There is a place on the Times project page for readers to share their own strategies for survival and they are both eye-opening and inspiring. Tina in Philadelphia makes her own laundry detergent (5 cents a load!), Hannah in Eugene attends a "neighbor dinner" every Monday, Dianne in NYC budgets her daily spending to $20 a day and Jay in Tucson is working less and spending more time with his daughters. He writes "I've been told I will never regret this time spent. I cant imagine I will."
As we read through the survival strategies, it struck us that, in some ways, they were also like tips for a happier life - the overall feeling is hopeful and positive. Living more simply works for lots of people; riding bikes, getting rid of cable tv, cooking more at home - these choices often can also lead to a more relaxed, more enjoyable homelife while saving money and helping make do.
What are your best survival strategies ?
Image: Video by Jigar Mehta for the New York Times