Money. Everyone has to deal with it in their own way. The economy is fragile right now and there are no signs it will recover any time soon. I have a strong suggestion to help us deal with the recession.
The price of gas has dropped significantly. This is a welcome relief. While we're celebrating, remember when you fill your tank to take the money you saved (perhaps a dollar per gallon) and put it aside for future emergency needs like when the price goes up again. Then make it difficult to use the savings for something else. The last time I filled up, the RV took 60 gallons. I bought a $50 gas card so I can only spend that "extra" money on gas. That's as it should be.
Like most people, when I received a tax refund, I would use some of the money to pay bills and blow the rest on frivolous wants rather than needs. As I grew older and hopefully a little wiser, I began to really assess those wants.
Now I take any "extra" money I save and keep it in a fund to use for the same purpose. Recently, I shopped at two different stores, both of which had huge sales on clothing. I can buy a year's wardrobe for under $300. The money I saved on the clothes shopping, in this case $80, was just enough to purchase jewelry marked 60% off at a store that will be going out of business after the holidays. For those who haven't heard, Mervyns is bankrupt so you should be able to find some great closeout bargains in the next couple of months.
Grocery shopping has bargains throughout the year and with the extra I save, I purchase dehydrated and freeze-dried food as a back-up. I have meals for 90 days stored in the RV and supplement fresh food as needed.
I haven't watched television in months and I don't miss it. Even when I had a satellite dish, I found I wasn't taking advantage of all the channels I could receive. The monthly fee I save on TV is used toward purchasing items for electronic devices like my laptop since that is how I earn my living. New optical mouse and VOIP headset on sale? Batteries in bulk? No problem. If I want to watch a TV program, I can select it and watch it on the laptop at my convenience. If there is nothing I want to watch on TV, I have over 300 DVDs and many spoken word recordings I can listen to. Did you know all the Harry Potter books read by the versatile Jim Dale fit on one DVD?
The holiday shopping dilemma that would leave me with a high credit card balance in January was solved years ago when I became an RVer. I have no room to store presents in the RV. In a sticks-and-bricks, I would purchase a gift item any time I found a sale: a bargain in August? No problem. Buy it, wrap it and store it until December 1 when I would mail it. Now I find out where non-computerized friends and family shop, purchase gift cards throughout the year and send them in their holiday cards. I design the cards, print them and have them ready to mail during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For those friends and family with computers, they receive an electronic holiday card with the online gift card to shop at home at their leisure. They can wait for the after-Christmas sales and make the best use of their gift.
These are all suggestions that have worked for me and may work for you. I'm not Suze Orman by any means. I just want to make the best use of the money I have so neither my friends and family nor I feel deprived.