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May 13, 2009

How Women Across the World Are Coping with the Economy

Women from Boston to Hong Kong share their strategies.

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Photo Credit: Picturenet/Jupiter Images

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1. KATHERINE SCHLATTER, 34
Medical editor, Jersey City, NJ

How I cut costs: I try to work deals. When I went to the dry cleaner the other day, I met the owners, who speak Cantonese, which I happen to speak, too. After a few polite exchanges, I asked that every 10th item be dry-cleaned for free. They laughed, then agreed. Now I'm working on reducing my rent.

Most recent splurge: A Nicole Miller dress for my brother's wedding, a black-tie affair.

Optimistic? I've seen a few economic meltdowns in my life; things always improve. That said, I do have moments when I think, Boy, this is it: I'll be moving home with my parents. But it's OK; we'll plant a garden and keep some chickens — just like a kibbutz.

2. SÓLVEIG HELGADÓTTIR, 24
Med student, Reykjavik, Iceland

How I cut costs: My plans to broaden my horizons by studying languages or learning the guitar are on hold. But at least I have tap water, a constant flow of hospital coffee, and scrubs.

Most recent splurge: Food!

Optimistic? It seems to be an inherent flaw in Icelanders not to worry until we have to. But a career in health care is a pretty safe bet. So yes, I'm optimistic.

3. JULIETTE LANCEL, 23
Graduate student, Paris

How I cut costs: I try to resist buying yet another top that looks like everything else in my closet.

Most recent splurge: An outfit for a costume ball: It's a medieval white-and-purple dress with long sleeves, like in Lord of the Rings.

Optimistic? I want to be a professor, and there aren't many of those jobs — but I won't give up.

4. MIRIAM NGOBENI, 42
Housekeeper, Pretoria, South Africa

How I cut costs: I find free ways to spend time with friends, like singing in the church choir.

Most recent splurge: A comfy new bed that helps me sleep.

Optimistic? Always — as long as I can hold on to my savings.

5. AMBER JAMES, 23
Dental student, Boston

How I cut costs: I've stopped going to the movies, since I can't go without getting popcorn or candy. I got Netflix instead.

Most recent splurge: About $400 worth of study materials for my National Board Exam.

Optimistic? Definitely. Things will turn around, just not overnight.

6. HADAR SCHWARTZ, 29
Pilates school director, Herzeliya, Israel

How I cut costs: I don't go to the supermarket when I'm hungry. Funny, but it works.

Most recent splurge: A ski trip to France with my husband. And toys for my baby; for him I buy only the best.

Optimistic? Amid the crisis, people here seem to feel the need to take care of themselves — eating right, exercising. So maybe my pilates business will be OK.

7. VICKI ROTHROCK, 33
Freelance writer, Hong Kong

How I cut costs: I try to avoid warehouse sales here, which is hard when it's 90 percent off Kate Spade! But I recently organized a clothes swap with some girlfriends. We picked through our wardrobes, pooled it all together, and had a free-for-all.

Most recent splurge: A bottle of Krug champagne. I wanted to have a quiet celebration with my husband, since we'd fallen asleep on New Year's Eve at 10:30 without a drop of bubbly.

Optimistic? Yes. It'll be a long grind, but we'll ride out the storm.

8. NICKI LIM, 28
PR consultant, Singapore

How I cut costs: My boyfriend and I love wine, but it's pricey here, so we're always on the lookout for free wine tastings.

Most recent splurge: I just splashed out for a ticket to Phnom Penh; I'm meeting a friend there for a long weekend.

Optimistic? Like my cat, Kaya, I'm fairly Zen. Things will have to get better. The question is how much worse they'll get first.


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