How Women Across the World Are Coping with the Economy

Women from Boston to Hong Kong share their strategies.

How to deal... You're not the only one coping with the lousy economy.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Abigail Pesta is an award-winning investigative journalist who writes for major publications around the world. She is the author of The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down.