Last night I went out only because a friend assured me that this lounge had a happy hour special that consisted of .50 cent martinis. I don’t even drink martinis, but when I heard .50 cent drinks I thought why not. It turns out that person was misinformed: The special wasn’t from 6-10 — it was from 6 until 20 minutes before we arrived.

When I found out the bar was now charging full price, I sat down, frowned, and waited until everyone else was ready to go. We are in a recession – I’m not spending grocery money on overpriced cocktails.

Some might call me cheap for saying that, but you know what? I have a pretty decent credit score and I aim to keep it that way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this economic era, it’s the art of budgeting and going without.

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From the looks of it, so are many Americans. Although consumer spending has risen slightly, overall we are collectively still saving a lot more than we are spending — forgoing spending excess amounts of money on leisurely activities like eating out.

One recently unemployed reader writes that while she has lost her job, she’s getting by because she’s doing her best to get the most bang for her buck.

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“I was laid off from a job that paid me $29/hour. Fortunately, I didn't increase my cost of living so when I was forced to "settle" for my $378/week, it wasn't that much of a hardship.

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I have a little side hustle where I work as an independent contractor so that pays a little each month - sometimes as little as $150, sometimes as much as $500.  I’m grateful that those funds go directly into my savings so I rarely see it unless things get tight or I want to splurge on something good.  One of my normal means to splurge on myself include eating out at restaurants. Now those splurges come in the form of home cooked meals that I used to order out:  Buffalo wings, steak salads with shaved Parmesan, or thick cheese-steaks with sliced provolone. I get more than one serving because it’s home cooked and I'm using olive oil where as the restaurants would use butter or veggie oil.

The bright side of this is that I've learned to cook my favorite take-out and use stellar ingredients while doing so.”

Kimberly

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I know where she’s coming from. Ground turkey and I have developed quite a healthy relationship.

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Even when I ultimately start performing better in my wealth-training classes (I like to tell myself I’m training to be rich and that right now the classes are giving me trouble), I’m likely still going to be sure I appreciate the value of the dollar.

Have you brought out the crock pot and learn to spend less or have you been spending your money as if the bank has threatened to keep it if you don’t? If the latter describes you, email me and I’ll give you my account number.

Send your stories and recipies to therecessiondiaries@gmail.com.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.