Thursday Night Open Thread: Little Luxuries

I guess a lot of people are watching basketball, because there's nothing else on TV. So, surfing around, I was delighted to see my pal Blair Sabol has a new column up at New York Social Diary, The New Luxury, on what people are giving up and not giving up in this depressed economic climate. Based on her (admittedly unscientific) polling, a good 1/8 ounce of pot, maid service and high end travel are in. But beware of new luxury hotel deals, they are cutting back on staff and service and skip the chintzy domestic business class flights in favor of trans-continental ones that offer real luxury.

Spending for clothes is out, with some exceptions, like good shoes and purses...and bras. Blair writes:

New York Times fashion reporter Susin Fair insists on expensive bras (me too). "Without a good bra ($135. basic Prima Donna) you look lousy in everything else."

What have you refused to give up even though money is tighter? This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Not really a luxury... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:21:16 AM EST
    ...when your body can't dispose of its own waste products properly, but I'm not going to give up my massages.  In fact, I'll probably end up going in even more frequently.  

    A little pampering is good for the soul.

    Do the massages help your body (none / 0) (#29)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:28:52 AM EST
    dispose waste products or are the massages more to help you relax and destress?

    They help... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:37:23 AM EST
    ...keep the poisons from building up in certain places as they are want to do--joints and lower legs mainly.  Pain mitigation if you will.  It is the hot Epson salt soaks afterward that helps purge some of the excess bad stuff.  

    Have you ever tried accupuncture? (none / 0) (#36)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:52:28 AM EST
    I know many people use it for pain mitigation and also help rid the body of toxins.
    I am asking out of curiousity not because I know anything about the subject.

    Not for me. (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:08:57 AM EST
    I have a very serious distain for needles of any kind.  The monthly bloodletting is bad enough--takes every bit of my resolve to go get poked just one time a month.

    Been giving up (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:16:11 AM EST
    or drastically cutting back on my 4-5 books/month book buying habit.  This adds up over time, especially over several decades of bookstore and online browsing.

    WIth about 3,000 books to my credit, and maybe a thou in storage, and the house already a fire hazard for that reason, I decided things were getting out of hand.  

    Plus the trend towards e-books on Kindle -- which I've so far resisted -- had me wondering if I was stuck in some outdated and wasteful habits.

    I should probably... (none / 0) (#46)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:20:29 AM EST
    have a thousand books by now, but I like to pass 'em on after I read 'em and turn people on...except for the very special books/authors I love that I will just pick up at anytime and re-read a chapter or two.  "Papillon" is one of those, all my Bukowski...those stay in the bookcase:)

    I am contemplating cancelling (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 09:58:51 PM EST
    cable (which I never watch; but will wait to see hoe Padres look this season) and gym membership (which I only use for yoga class; will pay as I go).  

    I can't give up cable (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by nycstray on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:06:44 PM EST
    gonna be across the coast from my Yanks and Jets! I also won't give up my food lifestyle, but will be growing some of my own. Although that doesn't have as much to do with economy as much as it does with will, it still is on the plus side on cutbacks. I'm pretty paired down and plan on staying that way no matter the economy. I'd rather not play that game . . . . .

    Me either (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:23:17 PM EST
    I've been trying to figure out a way (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:20:24 PM EST
    to reduce my cable bill, and can't. I'm at $280 a month and so many times there's nothing worth watching. But I'm not giving up HBO or Showtime, nor giving away any of my TV sets. It's such a racket. (It does include my internet, but still.)

    First step (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:23:01 PM EST
    Call up Comcast and ask them for a deal. Tell them that Dish Network is offering you a great price. They're usually willing to negotiate.

    You're right about cable being a racket (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:25:14 PM EST
    I could easily get by with the 7-10 stations I regularly watch. But to get them I have to buy the 200 I never watch.  

    There is talk of various subscription TV via the internet services starting up, either from iTunes or other services. If I could get HBO, Showtime, FX, CBS, NBC, TCM and my local PBS that way, I would probably drop cable.  Actually I wouldn't get NBC if I could just get 30 Rock in iTunes. And get Glee on iTunes, since I would never pay special for Fox.


    Oh, man (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 12:26:26 AM EST
    I'm in your boat.  What I wouldn't give for a la carte satellite (or cable).  Drives me NUTS that I have to pay for the vast number of sports and children's channels I never watch in order to get the few channels I do watch.

    yeah the sports and the (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:22:20 AM EST
    Spanish language and childrens channels I definitely would rather not pay for. And while I would like to get Bollywood, that would be even more.

    and for all that money we don't even get (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:24:24 AM EST
    CNN, MSNBC or Fox News in HD. Since I only like to watch HD, unless there's a crisis, I never tune them in anymore.

    I Dunno (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:22:47 PM EST
    But I would ditch all but the computer connection. You can get streaming netflix and hook it up your tv.

    I have netflix streaming (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:30:08 PM EST
    but it doesn't have HBO or Showtime. (Nurse Jackie starts next week, Weeds will be back soon too.)

    In fact, not many good new movies are in the "watch instantly" category on Netflix.


    But (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:34:06 PM EST
    You can stream directly from HBO, no?

    I only have cable to have access to (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:22:50 PM EST
    channel broadcasting Padres games.  Which is above basic cable package.  Don't have HBO.  Do fly coach--often!

    Also (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:31:57 PM EST
    Although it is not advertised, often with computer only cable service you can attach a splitter to the main line and get the basic channels on your tv.

    We're checking into UVerse (none / 0) (#12)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:02:52 PM EST
    which my children on their own have and say is great -- some features better than what we have with the cable tv/internet service.  And theirs is a lot cheaper (and in the same town), and our cable service is getting worse and worse.  Watching pixels fragment or "no signal" on the screen is not my idea of entertainment.

    And tonight, despite getting a cable guy here again yesterday, the spouse had NO HDTV for NCAA viewing.  This is unacceptable.  It is his priority.

    UVerse does not have HBO, but we're thinking through what to do about that.  We could save a lot of money, and that is more important by the day . . . halfway through my second year with no raise and heading toward another year of actual pay cuts aka furloughs, with no good news in sight here.  


    I don't feel so bad about my $160 (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 11:15:20 PM EST
    cable bill now (includes internet).   Not giving up Netflix either. I agree  about the limited selection of 'watch now' movies and shows.  I'm glad to get those DVDs.

    What else won't I give up...well, my iPhone service of course. I'm hooked on that.  So basically I have $230 per month in media consumption. That does sound like a lot.

    What have I given up? I don't buy clothes much at all anymore. And I guess I gave up those $135 bras the first time I started buying bras!  I did start buying better ones a couple of years ago when my own infrastructure started heading south...but not close to $135!


    The day I start buying $135 bras (none / 0) (#15)
    by shoephone on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 12:01:04 AM EST
    is the day I know I've lost my marbles. But I don't have cable either so what do I know? Somehow... I've been able to survive.

    135$ (5.00 / 0) (#21)
    by Jen M on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 05:07:46 AM EST
    What are they made with gold?

    I take it the Victoria's Secret (none / 0) (#28)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:23:30 AM EST
    million dollar bra is not on your shopping list... :-)!

    280? (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:34:54 AM EST
    Damn...I get cable with a premium movie channel package (4 boxes), dsl internet, and landline phone for 180 with Verizon Fios.

    Some ludite you are! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:39:44 AM EST
    I'm falling off... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:49:31 AM EST
    the wagon I guess my Luddite brother, I'll have to turn in my membership card.

    The special lady even has me texting!  I can only laugh at myself...the things you do for love:)


    That's about where I am (none / 0) (#33)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:46:03 AM EST
    with a different company.

    $280 for cable?   Astonishing, unless you're a paid teevee show reviewer.

    Even $130 seems excessive unless you're putting in 8-10 hrs/day watching the thing.

    For about $85-90, the cable price I pay, I get the couple of premium channels to go with all the usual stuff I look at while being forced to pay for too many channels I never watch.  

    $90 for cable is where I draw the line.  Out of principle, I just won't give the monopolist cable/communications corps more of my money.


    It seems all I watch... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:53:08 AM EST
    are the movies, the sports, the news, and the Nat'l Geographic/Discovery/History Channel stuff...and the satellite radio is on there too, I use that.

    Everything else I couldn't even tell ya where to find it on the dial.


    Again, similar. (none / 0) (#39)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:06:50 AM EST
    TCM gets quite a workout.  Fox Movie Channel has shown some good taste lately, and in letterbox thankfully.

    Hist and Hist Int'l get some views, especially MonsterQuest and the re-runs of Naked Archeologist which I managed to miss entirely the first time around.  As for more traditional history, the HC has been deficient in recent yrs -- only the intruiging Did Hitler Survive in Paraguay? doc, and maybe WWII in Color were of interest.  Otherwise, they do Hitler and Lincoln, ufos and Nostradamus to death.


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:31:58 AM EST
    so right, History Channel has slipped since they first came out.

    I knew I liked you! (none / 0) (#42)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:11:50 AM EST
    A fellow geek here - love Discovery, History, Science, Military, Nat'l Geographic Channels too!

    BTW - Starting Sunday, Discovery is airing a 10-part series called LIFE from the producers of "Blue Planet".  Looks amazing and I only wish I had an HD tv.


    You must have watched... (none / 0) (#51)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:38:08 AM EST
    "Locked Up Abroad" then...I like that show, even if it gets me depressed about humanity...all the prison doc shows do.

    And I can't watch COPS ever cuz it just upsets me too much and there is only so much one man can take:)


    What I'd really love (none / 0) (#53)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:52:09 AM EST
    to see on one of the history or science channels for a refreshing change is a round table sit down of experts, academic and independent, hashing out for an hour or two a controversial question in their field following a program on same.  

    We always get these very slickly produced docs and semi-docs -- NatGeo being the slickest of them all, with some unbelievable production quality.  Plenty of sound bites from experts (almost always in Ken Burns style partial lighting) but never a direct exchange of opposing views in real time.

    Some issues like nuke power, necessity of dropping the atom bomb, best/worst/overrated/underrated presidents, which ones should have been impeached or were improperly impeached.  Stuff of this sort.  

    PBS used to do something similar from time to time, but less so recently.  Of course, a lot of that was via Bill Buckley and his occasional prime time Oxford Debate Specials, which was fairly worthwhile.  But nothing has been aired since to fill that vacuum.  



    I have been wanting to get rid (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:20:21 AM EST
    of cable for the last few months but I cannot seem to convince the bf. We don't watch any TV shows regularly. Sometimes we go 2-3 months without watching anything on TV.

    I have noticed that when I was younger, I used to spend a lot more than I do now. I find that there are very few things that I really want or cannot live without now.
    My splurges are on food, my dogs and plants.


    Fresh Mach 3 razors every few shaves, (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:24:16 PM EST
    decent shaving cream, and Dove soap.

    I also echo cable and food. Though I don't subscribe to any premium channels.

    Food is a luxury (none / 0) (#19)
    by drobertson on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 01:46:51 AM EST
    when you've been out of work for nearly a year.

    Bread and wine are staples ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by cymro on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 02:56:54 AM EST
    ... compared to everything else.

    I'm ttrying really, really hard, but (none / 0) (#22)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 07:13:30 AM EST
    I'm having a hard time working up a lot of sympathy for the crowd Blair Sabol runs with and/or writes about, when too many people are scraping by on unemployment, or by cobbling together multiple minimum-wage, part-time jobs, and who would consider a "luxury travel deal" being able to put gas in the car AND go see the doctor.

    But I guess everyone's idea of "sacrifice" is different.  

    Travel, eating out, Pilates class, small gifts (none / 0) (#23)
    by Angel on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 08:12:23 AM EST
    that I used to like to get for my friends and sisters....but I'm not complaining at all because I have more than enough.  

    Ah luxury (none / 0) (#24)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:00:05 AM EST
    The one thing I will not give up is my regular manicure/pedicure/eyebrow wax. I know, I know, it's crazy, it's completely superficial, it's totally self-indulgent, it adds up fast even though I visit the local El Cheapo salon and they give me a discount because I'm a regular, but I honestly think I would die and shrivel up inside if I had to give them up. It's my therapy, it's what keeps me going. This will be the last card standing, I expect, should the worst happen and the axe befall.

    giving up (none / 0) (#26)
    by CST on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:21:06 AM EST
    Buying coffee for the free coffee at work.  Buying meals out.  Wine.  Going out to bars.  All new clothes.

    Not giving up: trips.  Making them as cheap as possible, but I still find ways to get out of town as often as possible.  I get serious cabin fever if I stay in one place very long.

    But it's not because of the economy, as I am fortunate enough to be employed.  I'm trying to save up for grad classes and a car so I can get there.  The cheapest engineering school is 40 min away.  The cost of a car doesn't even come close to making up the difference.

    Same boat... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 09:46:56 AM EST
    I've cut out almost everything but staples the last few months, but not because of the economy (lucky to be employed as well)...because I wanna travel.  

    Normally my splurges are on prime cuts of meat from the butcher or eating out, concerts, movies, records, going out partying, an extra 1/8 oz of the goods or other buzzes (needless to say I'm sure, the first 1/4 oz every week is filed under "staple":)  

    I'm not big on material possessions outside music and books...good economy or bad.  I guess thats how I live the high life on peanuts....fancy car, fancy house, fancy clothes give me no joy.


    There was a time when I enjoyed (none / 0) (#38)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:04:38 AM EST
    having fancy clothes, not so much anymore. I figured the fancy house would come when I decided once and for all where in the world I wanted to live. Now that has no appeal. I was never into fancy cars, so no problem there.
    But now.....someone in our condo complex has a custom built yatch and every day when I walk past it, I lust after it. I figure in time, this too shall pass.... :-)

    Think of all the work... (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:13:28 AM EST
    it is owning a yacht, or a big house for that matter...that'll make it pass, unless you can afford a full crew to go with them:)

    Got me thinking vml, I'm kinda cheating cuz I got good friends & family who share in their luxury with me...my sister with her sick house out east w/ pool and hot tub I call my summer resort, my one friend with his fishing boat I go out with him on a couple times a year.

    When it comes to family and friends I'm a lottery winner:)


    LOL, not to worry... (none / 0) (#47)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:28:36 AM EST
    I have become quite the tightwad (cheep,cheep!!)as I have gotten older.
    I do miss having a boat though. The man and I move quite a bit and as of now the plan is to keep moving every few years. So owning things like houses, boats, etc is just not practical for us.

    yea (none / 0) (#40)
    by CST on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:08:25 AM EST
    I love me some music and books, but even those purchases are on hold for now.  I cut back on meat intake about a year ago for environmental reasons.  I'll never give it up entirely, but I'm trying to be more concious about quantity, which helps on the food bill too.  My social life has taken a bit of a hit, but now I just do other things with my friends, like go to the park, hang out at houses, or take them on my adventures out of town.  One thing on my side is the weather.  I love spending time outdoors, and that's free.

    I don't need a fancy car, but I do need a way to get from A to B, late at night.  I am actually a little worried about it, I've been car free for a while and right now I walk everywhere and I love it.  But I could definitely see myself waking up in the morning and saying "I can sleep another 20 minutes if I drive to the train instead".  I'm gonna have to fight the urge.

    Having a car will make my trips easier.  One thing I have cut out is foreign travel for now.  I still get out of town, but now I go to VT, or NY or someplace close.  Just to change the scenery a bit, and visit friends of course.


    The park.... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:18:06 AM EST
    the beach, walking around the city, hanging at the crib...in my circles we call this "free fun."  Not that the beach here is free in the summer, but there are ways around the fees:)

    A friend will stop by and ask if I wanna get into something, the last few months my stock answer is "as long as its free fun, I'm in".


    I don't know if this would interest you (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by CST on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:30:57 AM EST
    but last summer when I was visiting NY I found out they had free kayaking on the Hudson down near Tribeca.

    You are only kayaking around in a little closed off area but it's kind of a fun thing to do outside.  Plus I was shocked, cuz nothing in NY is free.

    Free fun is the best kind of fun.


    I did not know that... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:34:17 AM EST
    a free kayak ride in NYC?  That is surprising...I'll put it on my list.  Thanks pal:)

    Weed (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ben Masel on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 10:49:56 AM EST
    When the economy first tanked, there was a shift from the $100 quarter to mexican weed, the better grade of import going here for half that. Now, with unemployment driving more domestic production, highgrade's dropped to $80 a quarter here, reclaiming market share.

    80 dollar 1/4's? (none / 0) (#54)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:25:31 AM EST
    Where is here again Ben? Wisconsin is it? :)

    100 is still the cheapest you'd see 'round here for premium, running up to 125...150 for somthing really obscenely especially good.

    At the rate unemployment is going and more people give up looking in the legit marketplace for a gig, and decide to start growing money trees to get by, that could be knocked down even further to the price of Mexican before long, especially if stoners can't afford the high-end.


    The growlight store (none / 0) (#55)
    by Ben Masel on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:47:35 AM EST
    had their best week ever when the GM plant in Janesville closed. if you're collecting unemployment, you can't afford to have on the books income, but have plenty of time on your hands.

    Is this what the man meant... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:54:38 AM EST
    when he was talking about creating green jobs?

    Sh*t if I didn't fear my sweet landlady losing her house over it I'd be moonlighting in the biz.  


    You could always... (none / 0) (#57)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 12:20:45 PM EST
    ...move to Wisky and work for Kohler while honing your gardening skills.