Letter from the Editor: February 2009

February 2009

In case you hadn’t noticed, business is not too good right now. Unemployment is way up, the markets are way down, and some prominent economists think we’re headed for a second Great Depression, though what’s so great about it beats me. In magazine land, when faced with this kind of woeful societal scenario, there are a few different ways you can go. You can knock out a Big Serious Advice package that attempts to walk readers through the minefield to achieve a certain peace of mind. Or you can remain in denial and deliver one of those shout-hallelujah-c’mon-get-happy features to take everybody’s mind completely off of the dire subject at hand. (Depression? What depression? Take a look at this beautiful island paradise….) This month, we chose the middle path: Bargains. Knowing how and where to save money is always useful, but it’s especially useful when you’re living through a catastrophic financial meltdown. And since American attitudes have systematically morphed over the last 40 years from can-do to can-shop—or so we’re told—it makes sense for us to ferret out the many crafty ways you can save when you’re out hunting in the marketplace. Would a big old trillion-dollar government stimulus package help, too? I’m no economist, but everybody who is says it would. So think of this as a savvy way to keep your head above water until the stimulus flotation device arrives.

Saving money in clever ways turns out to be something of a theme in this issue. With great heart and not a little humility, John B. Kachuba delivers a charming essay on the vicissitudes of new home ownership. After jumping enthusiastically into a home renovation project in North Avondale last year, he and his wife quickly discovered that removing lead paint and patching holes in a leaky roof was not very fun at all. When it came time to tackle the blasted heath that passed for their yard, they called in the cavalry: the DIY network show Desperate Landscapes. As John writes, all the sweat equity turned out to be worth it, even if it did ultimately cost him a finger.

Continuing on in the cost-cutting vein, Matt Cunningham pays a visit to a garage in Blue Ash where a local company has built and is marketing what they think might be the answer to our auto industry problems: the AMP Sky electric car. And finally, Associate Editor Aiesha D. Little walks us through the confounding tale of Christopher Avery and Andrew Butler, two local college students who in 2007 stole roughly $140,000 from the Valley Central Savings Bank in Reading to pay their college tuition. With all the other great tips throughout the issue on how to save money, we thought it made sense to warn folks who are feeling particularly desperate with this cautionary tale. Times may be tough, but do yourself a favor and think before you decide to rob that bank.

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