Tales from the Great Recession

The New York Times‘s stories on the Great Recession always seem to manage to find 20 somethings to interview who seem completely clueless about finances. Case in point:

Through most of last year, Ms. Ben Othman could not find any work after she was laid off by a publishing company [but now has a somewhat "shaky" position]….

Her husband, Mohamed, a Tunisian immigrant who drives a taxi on weekends, is looking for work as a plumber’s apprentice. She said she has considered taking classes toward a graduate degree in marketing or Islamic art history. A more remote possibility, she added, would be to move to Tunisia to teach English.

In the meantime, Ms. Ben Othman said, she is taking lunch to work, shopping at Costco and Target and frequenting her local movie theater on Tuesdays when tickets are just $5. “These days, I’m being very frugal,” she said.

Some tips for Ms. Ben Othman and others in a similar boat: (1) Jobs in Islamic art history are scarce, to say the least; (2) Video kiosks rent movies for $1 a day, and public libraries let you borrow them for free; (3) Being “very frugal” when neither you nor your husband has non-shaky employment means shopping flea markets, garage sales, and Goodwill, and getting hand-me-downs from friends and relatives, not shopping at Target and Costco.