· Take a break from mortgage prepayment. Just in August, I advocated prepaying the mortgage as an alternative to risky stocks. But the money world has changed. Keep your cash where it would be easy to get at -- in an FDIC-insured bank account -- should trouble arrive at your door. If you weather the recession without needing the money, great. You can use it later for a lump-sum prepayment and get back on track toward early payoff.
· Add movies to your cable TV plan or sign up for Netflix. Yes -- spend more. You have to have some entertainment, and Netflix charges only $17 a month for its three-at-a-time unlimited movie-rental plan. It beats $22 plus popcorn for a couple to visit the local gigaplex just once. And you don't have to listen to strangers yammering.
· Entertain at home. Take turns with your friends hosting dinners or card games. As my mother often said about growing up in the 1930s: "We made our own fun."
· The latest thing in kitchens: less remodeling, more cooking.
· Tone down the holiday decorations. Fifty bucks on a fog machine? Not this Halloween. Pare back in December, too. The National Retail Federation says the average consumer spent $50 on winter holiday decorations last year. I spent more than that just for a tree. This year we'll have one that's more Charlie Brown, less Rockefeller Center.
Some helpful advice. Some of these tips are things to keep in mind during both the good and the bad.