Cable TV. Many people are cutting back on pay-TV services or canceling them altogether, which saves $50 to $100 a month. As a replacement, some viewers watch free programs on Hulu or YouTube or make do with broadcast TV. Others are giving up television completely. "There's no money for cable TV, so my Internet does me for all my news and other entertainment," says Mariluna Martin of Los Angeles. "That's money saved, plus no TV means no blaring of bad news, fear-mongering, ad pressures, and other unpleasantness." Martin spends more time reading books and sipping tea at a neighborhood café. She finds that rewarding: "The changes I've had to make have made my life better. Things are simpler and healthier now."
Prepared foods. More people are cooking at home, and they're doing it with fewer premade sauces, marinades, dressings, and other ingredients. "Moms are back to basic cooking," says Chance Parker, a market researcher at J.D. Power & Associates. "They want to use fresh herbs and spices. It saves money, and it's more healthy." Patricia Tremblay of Dayton, Ohio, has given up her microwave as she's cut back over the last two years. She now cooks instead of zapping a premade entrée. "I've traded convenience for choice and done well, with the added bonus of weight loss and a sense of accomplishment," she says. "It's a great beginning that seems likely to stick."