R5 When the Going Gets Tough… (the tough go browsing)

In a recent issue of Esquire, I happened upon a thought-provoking essay by award-winning journalist Tom Junod. The title of the piece: “What the Hell Just Happened?”

Fitting, don’t you think? It is certainly how I feel. Everything was fine, or so it seemed, just a little while ago. More than fine, in fact. We “diversified” our portfolios, just like all those money managers told us to, and we invested. Our homes weren’t only grand, they were worth more than we paid for them. Our paychecks weren’t just coming in, they were coming in bigger each year. Our 401Ks were healthy, too. Those were the days.

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And now? Yikes! Watching TV, listening to the news, and reading the newspapers is about as uplifting as watching the movie The Wrestler. Every day it seems there’s more grim news. Another company has filed for bankruptcy. Another giant has just announced big layoffs. Another industry is in deep trouble. Another bank, another store, another restaurant has just gone belly-up. What the hell just happened? (By the way, my son, the PhD candidate in economics up at Harvard, hasn’t been able to shed much light. And, as for what should we do? Silence. His shrugged shoulders say it all.)

Sure, we’re all frightened. You can almost slice with a knife the anxiety in the air; it’s so darn thick. So be cautious. Be careful. But we can’t stop living. If the economy manages to bounce back, we’ll be happy we kept going. If it stays low for a long while, we have no choice but to keep going.

Which brings me to our cover story. Spending money may not be the first thing on your mind right now. Still….

I don’t know about you, but spending an afternoon browsing through stores does wonders for my spirits.

Look, we’re all gonna tighten our belts some. The ratio of browsing to buying will increase. But instead of staying home and watching CNN and getting more down, why not get out? Look. Maybe pick up a bargain here and there.

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It’s what I plan to do this weekend. Hope we meet each other browsing downtown.

Esther Davidowitz

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