From Where I Sit – Cheap Thrills

All the financial experts out there agree on one thing: hindsight is the only way to be absolutely sure the recession is over. It is only by looking back at markets, employment numbers, cost of living, inflation/deflation rates, the length of Bernie Madoff’s sentence, the total number of scoundrels charged and convicted, GDP, and political posturing that we can be sure It’s over.

So until that momentous day comes most of us need to find some way to make life in the new reality a little easier. I believe the number of people completely unaffected by the state of world finances is likely about three so this column isn’t for them. Everyone else wants to know how to ride out these challenging times without declaring bankruptcy or committing suicide.

Staycation is the newest word in the hard-times lexicon. It is widely accepted as meaning a stay-at-home vacation and is the 2009 answer to saving money this summer. It is forcing people to explore attractions and activities in their own communities or on a simple day trip, thereby saving the high cost of accommodations. Local venue operators are happy, hoteliers less so.

In an ongoing attempt to provide not only thought-provoking content but actual useful information too, From Where I Sit is pleased to offer the following list of Cheap Thrills, in no particular order. To qualify?the standards were gruelling?the suggestion needed to be either free or cheap. Period. It is sheer coincidence that three out of four involved books and reading.

1. Amazon books has bargain books for under $5. Is it a coincidence that both Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw had titles in this section the day I stumbled across it?

2. Many larger cities have a version of Edmonton’s Movies 12, which shows older new releases for the unbelievably low price of $3.50 all day and $2.50 on Tuesdays. Showing right now is Angels & Demons, Hannah Montana, 17 Again, My Life in Ruins, and eight others. Smuggle in your own treats and save even more. Costco also sells a movie pack that includes first-run movies and snacks.

3. Parades. Every little hick town across the country has its annual rodeo/country fair/exhibition/sports day event and kickoff parade. If you walk to your local parade and scoop the candy intended for the kids in the crowd you actually come out ahead on this item.

4. The best year-round deal is a public library membership. In many communities it is free. In others, for the price of one hardcover book, you can read books or borrow movies for ?free? all year long.

5. If you’d rather own your copies there are always garage sales, Salvation Army, Goodwill stores, and Value Village for exceptional used book prices. I picked up a mint hardcover of Garbo Laughs by Elizabeth Hay for 99 cents. Be still my beating heart.

Alas, I’ve come to the end of my word count. Stay tuned for more ideas, from where I sit.