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Tightening Belts on the Weekend

Suzie Lechtenberg

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Eileen and Jim
(Courtesy Eileen Nephin-Bish)
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Letters from Listeners about the Economy's Effect on Their Weekends

How, if at all, is the stalling economy changing your weekends?
It isn't changing anything. When you're already horribly poor, nothing really changes. Especially when you're a writer - if anything, a stalling economy means you might get paid for writing about the stalling economy.

What are three things free or inexpensive things you can do for fun in your town?
1. Go to the cheap sake bar up the street and play cribbage.
2. Go to a local movie theatre where the movies are only $3 and you can eat pizza and drink beer in the theatre.
3. Art walks.

What are the pros and cons of having less cash to spend on the weekends?
I would have no idea. I just finished grad school at USC and paid my way through by working at a ridiculous Hollywood night club. I never had any extra cash, but it was ok because I worked on the weekends. And, now, after five years of that club, I have NO interest in going out anywhere like it.

Anna Hirsh
Portland, Ore.


How, if at all, is the stalling economy changing your weekends?
I drive from 8,000 to 10,000 miles less than I did a few years ago. I go to the library and read a lot more books now.

What are three things free or inexpensive things you can do for fun in your town?
1. Walk the Riverwalk.
2. Go to a minor league baseball game, Lansing Lugnuts, instead of trekking to Detroit to see the Tigers.
3. Potter Park or visit one of the seven local museums, from a hands on children's museum to state history to art.

What are the pros and cons of having less cash to spend on the weekends?
Most of my immediate family lives 90 to 100 miles away. I don't go to visit them as much now as I did a few years ago.

Cindy Krueger
Lansing, Mich.


How, if at all, is the stalling economy changing your weekends?
Not much for me: I'm pastor of a local church, so my weekends continue apace! My church mostly consists of senior citizens, so their participation and giving is more a function of their health and the weather.

What are three things free or inexpensive things you can do for fun in your town?
1. Museums
2. Parades
3. Political gatherings. (Though I must confess that I have little idea of what secular activities happen on a Sunday morning.)

What are the pros and cons of having less cash to spend on the weekends?
Pros: Less shopping
Cons: Less shopping

Tom Griffith
Los Angeles, Calif.


How, if at all, is the stalling economy changing your weekends?
As recent (forced) retirees, my husband & I already had an extremely limited budget, which heating oil costs have now killed. Ditto auto gas prices. We no longer have "mad money" so we don't go "out" (ie movies, dinner out, shopping). We can barely afford to keep our home warm, let alone do anything "entertaining."

We both think we're headed into a depression rather than a recession. From our vantage point, it's pretty scary. We'll soon be cutting out our few remaining "entertainment" splurges like DVD rentals, Internet access and long distance. Cutting TV cable will be our final cost cutting choice as when we do, we'll be unable to get ANY television reception.

What are three things free or inexpensive things you can do for fun in your town?
1. Get together with friends or family at home.
2. If I were able to walk easily (I can't) I'd drive to the park or downtown and take walks.
3. Ditto visiting our local art museum, library or art galleries downtown.

What are the pros and cons of having less cash to spend on the weekends?
Pros: Since the beginning of 2008, I've read 25 former best sellers off my lifetime reading list. We've seen some decent DVDs from Netflix. We're home in case my mom or our kids/grandkids need us.

Cons: We no longer have a special meal on Sundays, or for that matter, any food items that we consider too costly, which takes in a lot these days. My husband and I really miss our occasional nights out. Now that we have time to work on home renovations, we no longer have the funds. If it weren't so environmentally bad, I'd love to go for a good, old-fashioned Sunday drive in the country. Some days I get sick of the same four walls and even though I have housework I could do, I'm bored to tears; I'd love to see/do something fresh and new. I'm sure I'm spending too much time online ... but, that will end soon when we cut our cable service.

Eileen Nephin-Bish
Lancaster, Pa.

  • Music Bridge:
    Michele
    Artist: Dirty Three
    CD: Cinder (Drag City)

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    By Cathy Johnson

    From Rockford, IL, 02/09/2008

    Working in a program which provides housing to homless families, I've closely watched the decline of the local and national economy over the past few years, and feel very fortunate simply to have a vehicle and money with which to go grocery shopping on the weekend. From time to time there's an added activity of short drives to visit family in nearby towns, something that's been a bit curtailed with the rising cost of gas. Other than that, my husband and I are pretty much homebodies who prefer low-cost cocooning activities such as reading, listening to music, and watching old movies. Our one activity that does cost money, and may have to be cut back on, is my husband's indulgence in purchasing nostalgic items on ebay. Who knows though, these things may end up having a better return on investment than the stock market.

    By James Ellsworth

    From Fort Wayne, IN, 02/09/2008

    Although I am barely breaking-even with the high cost of everything, my weekends are still pretty good. I consider myself as one of the lucky ones, as I am a musician and have a number of fellow players who get together and play gigs on the weekends. There's not much money to be made in the coffee shops and small taverns of northern Indiana, but it gives us something constructive to do, it provides fun and comradery, and we get free coffee or free beer....sometimes food.

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