11 ways to save money now

Don't let this recession keep you down. Grab the opportunity to build a stronger portfolio, cut the fat from your budget, and give yourself a head-to-toe fiscal makeover.

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7. Turn off the TV...
...if that's too hard, stop watching Desperate Housewives.

Television viewership is up in this down economy, which isn't all that surprising. TV is, after all, a cheap form of escapism. But before you tune in to tune out the realities of recession, remember that prime-time TV is full of pretty people and even prettier things. All this glamour affects how you think about your position in the world.

According to Boston College sociologist Juliet Schor, "Television viewing results in an upscaling of desire. And that in turn leads people to buy." Her study found that every additional hour of TV viewing per week boosts spending by roughly $200 a year. So a handful of sitcoms and a reality series or two can cost you more than a grand a year. Forget keeping up with the Joneses; now people are struggling to keep up with the Kardashians.

If you can't bring yourself to give up TV entirely, at least stop watching shows centered on the lifestyles of the fictionally the rich. Try COPS or The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. No one ever looked at the PBS anchor and said, "I've got to get a blazer like that!"

NEXT: Reorganize your insurance drawer
Last updated May 08 2009: 10:58 AM ET
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