At the start of this week I gave you all some ideas for keeping happy on a budget. Last night, as Sam and I got our Christmas tree, we met an electrician from Pennsylvania who had come out to Los Angeles to make some money selling trees. He lost his job four months ago. He and some other men are here until the holidays to work and earn money for their families. They sleep in a camper on the tree lot, there’s a porta-potty there for them to use, and except for the chilly nights, they don’t mind spending the day outdoors. Our Christmas helper has sent out over 1,200 resumes and yet, even after working more than thirty years in his field, he can’t get a nibble. Today’s headline reflects that there are more and more stories in our country just like his:
Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rateto 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession…Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost 1.9 million jobs, the number of unemployed people increased by 2.7 million and the jobless rate rose by 1.7 percentage points…All told, 10.3 million people were left unemployed as of November, while the number of employed was 144.3 million….Job losses in September and October also turned out to be much worse. Employers cut 403,000 jobs in September…Another 320,000 were chopped in October. (courtesy of Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics)
Just because you still have a job and are doing well doesn’t mean you need to put on a hair shirt. We should enjoy our lives, but at the same time be a bit more careful with our money. A day may come when we’ll want it to give to someone who needs it more. I for one, like to be prepared for the rain. Which is why, I’m giving you the Weekend Update: On the Cheap.
It’s been a long week. You’re tired, stressed, full of knots and anxiety – all you want is a beer and a bed. Fine, I get it and actually that plan fits in with my ‘weekend on the cheap.’ If however, you’d rather spend a ton of money at an expensive restaurant, eating a meal that sits in your stomach like bottle of cheap whisky, then this weekend plan is for you!
Friday: Tis the season to go ice skating! Every town has an ice rink and at this time of the year, a lot of places are installing temporary ones for holiday cheer. In LA, for example, outdoor rinks have been set-up in both Santa Monica and Downtown for your winter enjoyment. (LA: On the Cheap) Grab a friend, grab a loved one, heck, grab that cute guy over by the copy machine and bundle yourselves up to hit the ice. Not only will the exercise wind you down after a long week, but you won’t feel a bit guilty when you have you a toasty, hot toddy before bed. Cost: About $10 and that includes your skate rental.
Saturday: If you’re like me, you spend your Saturday mornings bopping around in hip hop class and your afternoons reading. It’s great. You get your exercise and your afternoon snooze, all in one day. If you’re not like me and spend most Saturdays sitting on the sofa watching sports or spending money at the mall just to keep yourself busy, fear no more. I’ve got a plan.
This Saturday, get thee outside. Go for a walk, rent a bike, hit the pavement. Get some fresh air in your lungs to start the day off right. After breakfast, do what you need to do and then enjoy the day. No more errands, no more cleaning, no more TV. All that stuff can be done tomorrow. It’s time today to let your body breath. Trust me, it might hurt at first, but you’ll thank me for it come nightfall. Cost: Free unless you rent a bike, which usually runs about $8 a day.
Saturday evening is Game Night! That’s right, it’s time to invite your friends over for a wicked game of Charades/ Pictionary/ Scattagories/ Strip Monopoly. You can either chip in for take-away or ask everyone to bring a dish. I’m a fan of pizza and Chinese myself, but I know some people love to cook. Either way, you’re in for a night of more fun than you could have anticipated. Unless you take me up on my strip Monopoly idea, which could get pretty disturbing. Especially after a few pieces of pizza. Cost: $10 for the game, $10 for the pizza. ($1000 if you poke out your eye with a game piece after Big Bob takes off his undershirt)
Good luck out there. Keep it simple. Nobody really needs all the stuff we think we do. As long as we have friends and loved ones, we’ll have a great time. So count your blessings and remember to live with gratitude. Have a great weekend!