For me, 2005-2008 was a world where the streets where paved with gold. I spent money like water. I dined out at the fanciest of eateries. I bought my first home and even added a few extra stamps to the passport. Life was good…until one dirty little nine-letter word shook my blithesome existence to the core—recession. It was everywhere and I soon learned that no one is immune to or insulated from the blow that it can cause. A handful of my closest companions were currently out of jobs and many of my favorite shops and restaurants began to shut their doors for good. So what did I, the consummate spendthrift, do in this time of crisis? I learned to live fabulously on a budget. Here, a few tips and tools that have helped me pinch some pennies and even make some dough on the side.

Recessionista Tip #1: Adopt a Side Hustle
In the world of consumerism you’re either a buyer or a seller. However, you’d want to be the latter. Find something you like to do, and do relatively well, and market your services to the public. Some growing side jobs with little to no overheard include freelance writing (duh!), bookkeeping (if you’re a cracker-jack accountant) babysitting, and wardrobe organizing (hey, It’s how Kim Kardashian discovered her entrepreneurial spirit). Post a listing on a free classifieds site like Craigslist and watch for your phone to ring with leads.

Recessionista Tip #2: Dust Off Your Library Card
Weekly trips to Borders and Barnes & Noble can add up—quickly. Forget paying discount prices for bestsellers when you can visit your local library to catch up on the latest reads or check out an old favorite. Plus, the due dates will also give you the extra push you need to actually finish a book in one weekend.

Recessionista Tip #3: Get a Lower Rate on Your Credit Card
Credit card debt is a slippery slope. Fortunately, many credit lenders are willing to negotiate a lower interest rate if your account is in good standing and you pay more than the minimum each month on time. Call up your credit card company and ask that they reduce your rate to reflect that of the current market. If they won’t budge, you can simply threaten to transfer your balance to another card with a lower rate. It might seem a little pushy, but it’s a proven solution. Once the card is paid off, leave it open with a zero balance and within a couple months you’ll see your credit score increase.

Recessionista Tip #4: Host a Clothes Swap
If you hang with a fabulously fashionable circle then consider yourself lucky. Grab your girlfriends and host a clothes swap to keep your wardrobe up-to-date in these economic times. Have each friend bring over gently or never worn clothes, shoes and accessories, and trade off to add new pieces to your ensemble.

Recessionista Tip #5: Get Thee to Redbox
Proof that dinner and a movie can cost under $10. I have become a frequent visitor to my neighborhood Walgreens on Friday nights and it’s all because of that beautiful, glowing red kiosk in the front of the store. If you haven’t checked out the $1 recent DVD releases at your local Redbox, you should. (Like, today!) Visit www.redbox.com to find a retailer near you.

Recessionista Tip #6: Hit Up Your Local Beauty School
Don’t worry—we’re not asking you to give up your spa days. But, you can pay considerably less for your treatments by visiting a local, reputable beauty school. The hallways are chock-full of fresh talent in the esthetic arts…at a much cheaper price. And paying $5 for a manicure is sure to brighten your day.

Recessionista Tip #7: Make Your Own Beauty Treatments
Head down to your local health food emporium and stock up on essential oils, liquid Castile soap and sea salt to make your own body scrubs and hair concoctions. Does the name Lisa Price ring a bell? (Refer to Recessionista tip #1 for money-making potential.)

Recessionista Tip #8: Go Green
This seems like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Skip filling up the tank by walking, biking or taking public transportation to work. With the average cost of gas somewhere around $2.50 you’ll be amazed at how quickly those dollars can add up. Score one for your wallet and the planet!

So let the saving commence! If you have some tried-and-true recessionista tips, share them with the Clutch fam!

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