By MSN NZ Money staff
Times are tough. Even those who've kept their jobs are being cautious about how they spend their money, just in case "something happens".
It's usually the obvious money wasters that are the first items to come off the big spending itineraries: $300 hair cuts, $200 skincare products, next season's 10 must-have accessories and Nanna's birthday present. But it's not until times get really bad that we start bringing our lunches from home and cutting back on double-shot macchiatos, eh?
When it comes to letting our hair down and having a good time, everyone wants to show it's business as usual. So how can we still enjoy our blow-outs on the weekend and still stick to our budgets?
Follow these three simple tips and you'll make it through the tough times without having to sacrifice your favourite bars and restaurants.
Step one: make friends with the bouncers at night clubs
Give them well-meaning looks and flatter them mercilessly girls and boys alike. Don't barge your way in like it's your birth right but have a chat to them instead. For girls, try subtly swaying your hips from side to side and twirling a lock of hair around your finger, while boys can talk about gym programs until he offers to let you in.
Girls, don't forget to shoot him a last twinkle from the corner of your eye before you disappear into the night club and tell him you'll see him later. Even if you don't take him up on his offer for a Big Mac after his shift, he's bound to let you in again and again. Failing that, there's always "Ladies' Night" to save you a cover charge.
Step two: change your modus operandi
See the young and hot guys in the centre of the dance floor? These boys are pre-downturn and are now faking it while they work through retrenchment denial. Times are tough and if you don't want to suffer like the rest of them, avert your attention to the cool and calm silver foxes in the corner.
My advice for the young and hot guys: go for the cougars; they take their credit cards out to use them not to impress the boys. At the very worst, they'll know what you're going through and will gladly buy you drinks to take your mind off the pain. We all need a "mum" sometimes.
Step three: switch from champagne to cocktails
Okay, so many of you are probably puzzled. Why switch from champagne to cocktails when times are tough? Drinking champagne during economic hardship is downright tacky. Don't do it. You can still remain sassy with a cool caprihinia in hand and your silver fox won't feel as though you're taking the mickey.
With any luck, if you can spend a little less on the drinks you might even come away with a meal and all for less than the endless bottles of Veuve Clicquot you once couldn't live without.
I can't stress enough, the key is to steer clear from the bimbos and himbos of 2008; their aspirations are still sky high but their future sustainable revenue looks shaky at best.
Other "no-go" zones are suits working in the property, construction, car sales, retail and banking sectors (unless you have absolutely no conscience and don't mind sharing some "sorrow-drowning").
Public servants and lawyers on the other hand have an abiding inevitability and jobs! However, you'll need real luck finding one who would have the first clue about what goes into a caprihinia. And if you find one offering that Veuve Clicquot, stand back he's mine.
Have your say: How has the economic downturn affected your lifestyle? Are you looking at ways to save money?