Sunday, March 15, 2009

The recession and how to enjoy it

As a service to the readers of sleeping alone and starting out early, I've gathered up a handful of how-to articles and sites offering strategies for riding out these economic hard times. You will find these resources below.

If you're still gainfully employed

  • Find creative ways to earn mad money.
  • Even if you've had to tighten your belt, writes Liora Hess over at, you need to set aside some cash for fun. Hess offers five ways to garner some extra cash—and none of these include stupid tips like tossing your change into a bowl at the end of every day. Her tips include entering the codes on your Coke product bottle caps at and completing surveys for cash.

  • Spend your time on hobbies that will pay off.
  • Instead of heading out for dinner and a movie on a Saturday night, you might, for example, engage in home-improvement activities that will end up saving you money. offers a list of the best home improvements to make in a recession--assuming, of course, you have a couple thousand dollars handy to get started.

    Esquire helpfully offers five recession-proof hobbies. (As the article explains, "Having fun on a budget is simply a matter of thinking outside the box. And if all else fails—porn. Always porn.")

    Here's hobby number one:

    Write a Song

    What you need: Pen, paper, banjo, working knowledge of testicles.
    Cost-benefit: High. For centuries, men who were down on their luck have turned to song writing—men like Socrates and Eddie Vedder, using the power of music to convey their message of hope. The words are free; the emotional release is priceless.
    Fun factor:
    8/10. Talk about a good time. Not only are you helping others by writing a song increasing awareness for testicular cancer, but it also works as a marketable jingle that can be sold to a media conglomerate for boatloads of cash to help you out of your fiscal straights. Plus a testicular exam done right can turn into a real party.

  • Do not read the Internet.
  • Articles like this one will only make you unnecessarily squeamish, and you can't afford a deep-tissue massage or therapy right now.

    If you've lost your job

  • Build jellyfish aquariums,
  • like Alex Andon, 24, did after getting laid off. Tired of looking for nonexistent employment opportunities, Andon started building jellyfish aquariums and has so far sold three—one for $25,000—and is currently turning his attention to building desktop aquariums for the workplace.

    The keyword here is "forced entrepreneurship," explains Mark V. Cannice, executive director of the entrepreneurship program at the University of San Francisco, in this New York Times article.
    “If there is a silver lining, the large-scale downsizing from major companies will release a lot of new entrepreneurial talent and ideas — scientists, engineers, business folks now looking to do other things,” Mr. Cannice said. “It’s a Darwinian unleashing of talent into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

    (If you do decide to go the jellyfish aquarium route, you can find helpful advice on how to avoid liquefying your jellyfish here.)

  • Avoid money-making advice from websites that make flagrant use of the caps lock key.
  • For example:
    CONSUMERS will always need to buy GOODS and SERVICES, but now you have the opportunity to EARN MONEY by helping the consumer find the smart buy that they are searching for. Great idea, right?

    The INTERNET is recession proof. Now you can tap into the MOST POWERFUL MONEY MAKING TOOL in the world.

    * Want to earn EXTRA MONEY?

    * Want to REDUCE your DEBT and INCREASE your SAVINGS?

    * Want to REPLACE your CURRENT INCOME?

    * Want to LEARN NEW SKILLS to boost your resume?

    * Want to work PART TIME or FULL TIME?

    It's all up to you. BUT DON'T PANIC. All you need is the proper guidance to learn the BEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY DURING A RECESSION.

  • Take comfort in the fact that it's less stressful to have lost your job than to have to worry about losing it.

  • If you're unemployed and homeless, or about to lose your home

  • Spend your savings on a recreational vehicle.
  • This is a new trend and one that makes sense. If you do choose to become a "fulltimer" (as people who live in RVs full time call themselves), you'll need to decide whether to purchase a motor home or trailer. The benefits and drawbacks of each are significant; you can read more on this from people who've made this decision here and here.

  • Read the survival guide to homelessness.
  • This site offers useful advice on how to make it on the streets. In addition, the author of this blog is angry. He explains that "There are laws against being homeless. Let me say that one more time. There are laws against being homeless."

In his profile, the author writes:
You have a right to live. You have a right to be. You have these rights regardless of money, health, social status, or class. You have these rights, man, woman, or child. These rights can never be taken away from you, they can only be infringed. When someone violates your rights, remember, it is not your fault.

You were wronged.

Speaking of which....

If you're a human being

Get mad.
If you're not already mad at the hubris, mismanagement, and stupidity that led to the current economic crisis, it may help to read the following articles:

February 28, 2008:Bush claims no recession for US.

"There is no question the economy has slowed down. I don't think we're headed into a recession, but there is no question we are in a slowdown."

April 23, 2008: US not in recession: President George Bush.

"We're not in a recession. But there's no question we're in a slowdown. And, yes, people are concerned about it, obviously."

December 5, 2008: Bush Acknowledges Recession, Automakers' Troubles: Bush uses 'recession' for first time, says some automakers 'may not survive'.

"Our economy is in a recession," Bush said flatly, speaking to reporters on the South Lawn only hours after the release of a government report showing the biggest month of job losses in 34 years. "This is in large part because of severe problems in our housing, credit and financial markets, which have resulted in significant job losses."

It's perhaps unfair to pin everything on George W. Bush, especially since if we've learned anything about him, it's that he's too ignorant about economic complexities to lay claim to masterminding anything. (Here's an article from in which Bush describes how to react "when your economy is kind of ooching along.") Besides, there are others to blame, as Jon Stewart makes clear in his conversation with Jim Cramer, which is embedded below, just in case you've been comatose for the last week or haven't been checking your email.


Russ Francis said...

Brilliant Jenna. You should be doing stand up. The 'jellyfish aquarium' made me chuckle.

Tim said...

"forced entrepreneurship" My eyes lasered on those two words. I am at the point of never wanting to work for someone again. And I hope my own desperation makes it possible I can make my money instead of making money for some else.


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