SURE, IT’S BAD: Nearly 10 percent of Washington was out of work as of earlier this summer, and more than 55,000 Seattleites lost their jobs between May 2008 and May 2009. But the stream of headlines that pounded out a steady drumbeat of cautiously optimistic “less worse” news—Jobs will keep disappearing, but at least the economy has bottomed out!—has given us reason to hope.
So why does it still feel like the dark days are here to stay? Maybe because we came so close to the precipice that we got a glimpse of the grim soup-kitchen–and–boxcar-hopping-hobos reality down below. Hearing economists say that Seattle didn’t get hit as hard as places like Detroit or Las Vegas is cold comfort when we’re still obsessing over the possibility of losing our jobs and our homes.
That, of course, is what your therapist would call “dwelling on things you can’t control,” so why not concentrate on the things you can control? Stop cowering in the dark and waiting for the worst to happen. Buck up, get proactive, and start living your life again.
Just don’t overdo it, huh?
1. Save Money—and Your Sanity—By Spiffing Up Your Space
Face it: You can’t control much of what’s causing your big-picture economic anguish—the pink slip you might get, the bailout you won’t—but you can calm your home-front fears and save cash by decluttering your domicile. “How many people waste money buying things that they know they have but can’t put their hands on?” asks professional organizer Debbie Rosemont. Her tips for getting started:
SKIP THE BOXES. Those colorful containers are good for organizational inspiration, but unless you’ve already sorted your junk and know exactly what you need, you’ll actually be adding more clutter.
START WITH ONE SPACE. Tackling your whole house at once is the best way to overwhelm yourself and light lots of little fires, so choose one room and sort what you’ll keep and what you’ll pitch.
NOW BUY THE BOXES Size up your “keep” piles—and your storage spaces—and stock up on the containers that fit.
2. Dress for Success for Less
Whether you want to maintain a sense of style on an ever-diminishing budget or look sharp for a job interview, take solace in the knowledge that previous generations managed to present themselves with elegance and poise—with a lot less in their closet. There’s a lot to learn from that make-do, buy-what-lasts mentality.
THINK ALTERATIONS, NOT ACQUISITIONS. The tailor at your neighborhood dry cleaner can shorten the skinny jeans you already own, and 10 bucks later, you’ve got a new pair of cropped pants to wear with summer’s gladiator flats and fall’s boxy, tunic-length tops.
RESIST MASS-PRODUCED “BARGAINS.” That poorly made cotton cardigan will pill and fade almost instantly, but an investment piece cut from quality virgin wool or cashmere will last for years. When you calculate the cost-per-wear of more expensive but well-made pieces and compare it to the price of replacing here-today, haggard-tomorrow “fast fashion,” the real savings become clear.
SHOP YOUR CLOSET, BUT SHOP YOUR GREAT UNCLE’S, TOO." Our older relatives grew up in a time when one fine camel-hair suit jacket and one pair of cordovan Italian-made oxfords was enough. A lot of those pieces are still very relevant today, and many are still in excellent condition inside cedar chests in attics and spare bedrooms.