Friday, July 31, 2009

Did the Recession Steal Romance?

Like many people, I saw the headlines at MSN.com yesterday. The topic that got me thinking was whether the recession was ruining romance. Of course, they were talking about the literal relationship. (At least this is what I assume since I didn't actually have time to read the article.) In that point they're true. The plague of unemployment seems to be growing exponentially as downsizing in one area (or market) expands to another in a chain reaction. I myself have felt that pinch recently, and hope that another wave will not hit my office. With no job, people simply don't have money. If they were fortunate enough to have some finances squirreled away (which isn't the majority) then it's likely being used to pay the big bills--rent, utilites, gas and then food. So buying the necessities doesn't leave much room for romance...unless you give the media hyped concept a twist.

As you may recall I did an article about Valentine's ideas on a dime, aka cheap but not tacky. Some of these included dinner at a free locale like the park, using a coupon or special deal for dinner for two, and even spluring a few cents on a special treat your "date" loves but won't fit into their budget. For the most part it's all about thinking ahead, making a plan, and carrying it out in a positive way.


It's true that what some have now to wine and dine that someone special might not be what they had a year ago, heck even a week ago, but what makes it special is that they try. Sometimes the thought is what counts. Afterall don't you want the person you love, aka your date, to like the real you that isn't hidden by the smoke and mirrors of money? This means getting real, having a conversation, and perhaps making your own fun...though that doesn't mean a trip between the sheets. (Which also seems to be a top rated activity people flock to do in a depression.) If all you give your date is a helping of your sense of humor, the gift of a special talent, or proof that you can whip up a meal from anything, you're giving them the gift of you. If they want another date, or more alone time, that means YOU struck a romantic chord.


After I solved the dating problem, I reflected on the bigger picture about how the recession has affected romance sales. Most times people suffering in a depression will splurge on books and movies, because of the escapism. However, both markets have seen a decline since January. Now, on the verge of August, it seems some publishers and studios are finally seeing an influx of customers.

Personally, I've cut down on the number of books I've bought, and have tried to limit my trips to the movies to the big blockbusters must sees. (That doesn't mean I wouldn't have gone to a smaller flick if I were drawn in by the story!) No matter when I go to the theater, I try to choose the cheapest time and never splurge on snacks which have a ton of mark-up. I try to eat before, or bring a bottle of water. (At THE UGLY TRUTH last weekend my fiance and I saw a couple smuggle in Wendy's hamburgers!) I don't really advocate breaking the food rules, since I know vending is how the theater makes their money. Plus it can get you booted...then you're money is wasted.


If I do hanker for a book, I try the library first...even if I have to put my name on a waiting list. Reading the book for free means I won't waste money on a title that sits on my TBR bookshelves to collect dust. And if I have to have a book I shop around to see what store has it cheapest. I always make the best of my bookstore discounts! Though I don't venture into the store, and temptation, just because I get a coupon in the mail or my inbox. I only go if I have a set focus of what I'm buying so I can get in and out. And I'm not above going to a local used bookstore.


Whenever my fiance asks if I want to head to Edward McKay thirty minutes away I jump at the chance. Sure the authors don't get a cut, but someone somwhere has already plunked down their hard-earned money. Plus I can look at the journey as a learning excursion because authors can glean so much from past titles. True, they're not the current bestsellers, but that doesn't mean those dog-eared paperbacks or crinkled hardbacks weren't on the lists previously. And just because an author's less recognized work is in the used book store, doesn't mean its bad. There is something in that book of use. You can learn the author's voice, structure, and how to write a good or bad book, depending on what you think after you've read it. Just like movies, it's important for writers to pick apart books so they learn what made it work and sometimes where it went wrong. There in lies the little hidden gem that might have cost you what...a quarter? But to your career it could be priceless.



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