F, 30s: Center City Philadelphia, PA (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


F, 30s: Center City Philadelphia, PA

F is a writer after his 9 to 5, but is a storyteller all the time. He currently lives in Philadelphia.



Coffee: [$3.75] (No description provided)

photo (2)

Lunch: [$7.29] Cheesesteak, fries, and a soda.

photo (1)

Price of daily commute: [$0.00] Free. I walk.

photo (3)

What do you like most about this neighborhood or city?  Livability.

How has the recession affected you? It made me leave a job where I was complacent, and I got a job where I’m rarely bored.

What would you spend your last $5 on? I don’t really know. I feel that I’d find some public transit to a friend or family member’s house.

Why did you choose these 3 items? Well, for the questions asked, they were the most accurate answers I could give.


Thank you for a look Philly, F!  Truly appreciate this perspective. Hope you don’t mind that I stole your image off your website :) – h!


Eric, 28 & Jennilee, 27: Honolulu, HI (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


ericandjennileeEric,28 & Jennilee,27: Honolulu, HI

A not-so-newlywed couple getting into their second year of marriage. They’ve just moved from Philly to Houston and are finding out what life in Texas is all about.


Price of a loaf of bread: [$6.49] From ABC Stores


Price of gasoline: [$3.94] from Aloha Station, per gallon


Price of water: [$.99] a 16 oz bottle from ABC Stores


What do you like most about this neighborhood or city? The weather, the beach, and the best spam musubi!

How has the recession affected you? We’ve already been pretty budget conscious before the recession started, so it didn’t affect us too much financially. On the job side, we did feel the decline in business, but not as badly as most of the country since both of us were lucky enough to each be in what seemed to be a relatively recession-proof industry (information security & discount retail)

What would you spend your last $5 on? Water. You always need water.

Why did you choose these 3 items? These are the three items that we consume on a daily basis.

Thank you both for being this project’s first couples entry, and putting in the time while you were both on vacation!  Looking forward to catching up with you newlyweds soon! – h!


Corinne, 30: Seattle, WA (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.) 


Corinne, 30: Seattle, WA (2011)

Corinne is a documentary filmmaker and media educator from New York City, currently living in Seattle, WA. More about her at 


Cost of Travel to a Place You Frequent: [$2.50] One way during peak time.


Lunch: [$2.98] Bahn Mi Sandwich at Sun Bakery

Bottle of water: [$0.50] At QFC


What do you love most about where you live? Since living here, I have learned to appreciate more of the outdoors and the lowkey environment here allows me to relax better.

What would you spend your last $5 on? Not gonna lie, a bag of Andy Capp’s hot fries for $.99, a banh mi sandwich for $2.98, and a can of green tea with ginseng and honey for $.79.

Why did you choose these 3 items? These are three items that I consistently think about during my daily work grind: my commute to work located in Chinatown, what to eat for lunch, and what to drink. Every morning I make sure I have the funds to even do these things.


Thanks for submitting, Corinne! Keep reppin’ Andy Capp’s Hot Fries while on the Left Coast! <3 – h!

CJ, 30: Old Bridge, NJ

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)



Coffee: [USD $2.49] Dunkin Donuts

Cost of Travel to a Place You Frequent: [$12.75 one-way]
From the bus stop near my house (Old Bridge, New Jersey), one round trip from where I live to New York City via NJ Transit bus costs $25.50. When you factor in the subway trip to where I need to go and back to the bus station, the cost of the whole trip is $30.

Gasoline: [$3.09 per gallon] from 19 (local gas station)



What I sold for a Surprising $212.50

In cleaning out my life, I’ve been focused on getting rid of as much as I can, for the highest turnover possible.  I didn’t realize the amount of added stress I placed on myself by placing such sentimentality on numerous items.  I bordered on hoarding.  Growing up  poor, I learned to saving every last scrap, which translated to holding onto things beyond their prime utilization.

My life became storage with a bed placed in the middle of it.

Needing to move, the purge began. In this process, I’ve returned items to stores for credit and created piles to donate and discard.

When items were in decent condition, I’d set them aside to look up their value online. I’d then dedicate a day to eBay research, and I’d put items up for sale or auction if there was potential to make more than $7 from it.  I lucked out when I posted a doll online.

Turns out, an old gift from an ex of mine paid off when I listed it on eBay.  We apparently were dating when Monsters Inc. was popular, and he got me this doll.  We broke up shortly after, and the doll joined the rest of the items in my “ex box.” When I was organizing items to toss, I came across it in almost perfect condition!

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 6.18.32 PM

See!  Proof that it sold for a lot.  When I looked it up, I originally saw it selling for around $35, which would have worked for me.  I think there’s some kind of rarity that runs for this particular doll, so fair warning, when you have a rare item many internet strangers will try to swindle you.

I lucked out with this listing, and I want to share with you what I think worked for this.

  1. First, the item was in pristine condition, it had all the original pieces.  Many of the same listed dolls were missing the original pigtails and socks.
  2. Second, the item still functioned – it still made said all these phrases, etc.
  3. Third, I labelled it pretty accurately and based it off the title of other listings
  4. Fourth, my photos were pretty good.  I did a lot of these macro shots , and had detailed photos in good lighting.
  5. Last, I took a photo of the label for clarity and to prove the item was genuine.  (See examples below)
    boo1 boo2 boo3

Hopefully you can dig up some gems in your junk.  And forgive me, as I’ll be posting like this every now and then, because I’ll be mostly bragging…

Good luck on your auctions!

Move Your Money to a Credit Union TOMORROW – Saturday, 11/5

The Occupy demonstrations have made one thing clear: big banks and corporate America can no longer gouge the every day account holder with arbitrary fees and random exploitation. There seems to be a tacit understanding between us: we no longer want to support big businesses that don’t support us. But if our money walks, where will we put it?


Well, I’ll tell you. Tomorrow is National Bank Transfer day, where millions of Americans will leave their big bank and join a financially responsible, people oriented, and community-minded credit union. (Besides, you really shouldn’t be hiding your riches under a mattress. Mattress fires are a real thing.)


To make it even more official, take the pledge to move your money to a credit union this Saturday, NOVEMBER 5, 2011 HERE . Be one of the 650,000 Americans who have already transferred their available funds to credit unions in the last month, and haven’t turned back since running far, far away from their former big bank’s fees


To keep this simple, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. You’ll find below some links (all found via Google) to help you prep for tomorrow. Know that the credit unions are READY FOR YOU with extended hours and possibly, pastries. Also, bring 2 forms of photo identification, your SSN card, proof address, and your money (oh yeah, that) to start an account.


Read what I’ve gathered below, and go visit the Move Your Money Project for more details.


What is a credit union?
A credit union is a member-owned, not-for-profit, cooperative financial institution. Credit unions are similar to traditional banks in the sense that both institutions offer financial products to customers. Credit union members, like bank customers, have access to checking and savings accounts, CDs, loan products, and credit cards.

What is the difference between a credit union and a bank?

Table taken from this link

Credit Unions Banks
Not-for-profit Profit-oriented
Returns profits to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates, and free or low-cost services. Returns profits to stockholders
Each person who deposits money is a member with a share of ownership Customers have no ownership in the corporation
Members elect a volunteer Board of Directors to represent their interests Controlled by stockholders and paid officials
Member-service driven Profit-driven
Are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration or a private insurer Are federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Can serve only those individuals within their field of membership Can serve anyone in the general public

Why are credit unions better?

According to this site:

A credit union is a democratic, member-owned cooperative. So when you join a credit union, you’re more than a member; you’re an owner—and that means you have a say in how your credit union is run.

Credit unions provide the same products and services as other financial institutions—but credit unions are non-profit and exist to help people, not to make a profit. As such, all earnings are returned to their members in the form of high-interest savings and low rate loans.

Credit unions across the country are committed to their communities, offering financial services to underserved populations, engaging youth in financial education, and returning profits to their members.

Credit unions also tend to offer more competitive rates (via DailyFinance):

Credit unions offer most or all of the services you need from your bank, and they generally charge lower fees, offer higher interest rates for your savings, and lower interest rates for loans. Compare these rates for June, 2011, the most recent data available from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA):

Credit Unions(national average) Banks(national average)
5-year CD 2.09% 1.78%
1-year CD 0.75% 0.59%
$1,000 in a regular savings account 0.25% 0.20%
30-year fixed mortgage 4.78% 4.64%
Classic credit card 11.64% 13.17%
Unsecured fixed 36-month loan 10.37% 11.98%
36-month used-car loan 3.88% 5.61%
60-month new-car loan 3.91% 5.22%

Where can I find one:

or go to Google Maps and search for “credit union”

If you’ve successfully moved your funds to a different bank – tell us where in the comments below!

[VIDEO] @ WNYC: The Real Cost of Unemployment

Above, Prof. Dorian Warren talks about how a combination of hope and seeking justice will propel the world towards change.


RF had the opportunity to sit-in during a live session of WNYC’s The Real Cost of Unemployment, hosted by Farai Chideya. The panel consisted of personal finance expert, CARMEN WONG ULRICH, author of The Real Cost of Living and frequent contributor to outlets including the Today Show, CNN and MSNBC; investor RYAN MACK, author of Living in the Village, contributor to CNN, CNBC and The Huffington Post, the president of Optimum Capital Management, who teaches and mentors entrepreneurs; and Columbia University Professor DORIAN WARREN, who studies labor markets with a focus on communities of color.


What an incredible run-on sentence! Once we find the archived show, we’ll post it right on site!


What sunk in for RF was this:


    • Age discrimination has increased as employers are searching for younger, less experienced workers who are far from overqualification and the retirement age. This has led to a massive pool of unemployed Baby Boomers who range in their 50s and 60s.


    • There are two types of economies that we’ve developed post World War II – a low wage economy between 1945 and 1973 and an economy for people who have received their Bachelor’s degrees. (Warren)


    • Much of the care of the elderly and children fall on women. Much of the time, healthcare access is a primary concern for families, as independent healthcare costs are exorbitant, and healthcare is mostly packaged with jobs. How do people receive affordable healthcare without jobs? (Wong- Ulrich)


    • We have to see two different parts of #OWS. Americans are reacting to having no voice in the political system, and they see no future by continuing to run the economy in this way. Unfortunately, there is a contradiction in society, where the opinion being projected is that “all government is bad, unless I benefit from it.” #OWS is our political voice. (Mack)


    • Political responsibility and political activism aren’t mutually exclusive. (Mack)


    • Is your degree worth it?


    • What is ethical wealth?


    • The middle class is shrinking. In NYC alone, there were districts: Meatpacking, garment, printing, etc. These were the industries that supported the middle class. (Warren)


    • There is no funding for projects. There are no jobs, because there are no projects. Banks are not lending after the bailout. (Ed Dabney, construction worker)


    • They should have create better stipulations in the bank bailout. (Warren)


  • To recession proof yourself, you have to create your own companies. You have to have a survival mentality. (Wong-Ulrich)

Marie, 30: Houston, TX (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


2011-10-01 16.19.41Marie, 30: Houston, TX (2011)

Marie is a toy hoarder and lover of all things kawaii, antique and vintage. She also an account executive who holds a high interest in art, culture and traveling.


Lunch: [$7.00] Parmesan Truffle Fries, Fried Avocado Tacos, Fried Green Tomato Tacos. I purchased these items from the Htown Food Streat Taco Truck.


Phone Bill: [$332.44] Sprint Phone Bill


Usual Commute: [$6.00] to Berryhill Tamales. This is a traditional place I commute to every Monday for their $1.99 Original (Fried) Fish Tacos. The cost of commute to the establishment costs $6.00 to and from home.


What do you like most about this neighborhood or city? What I like most about this city is the cost of living and cheap food.

How has the recession affected you? The recession over the years has greatly affected my chances of advancing in my field of work, due to company downsizing, massive lay offs and budget cuts.

What would you spend your last $5 on? A bucket of fried chicken or some designer vinyl toy figure.


Thanks so much Marie, for taking us on this Texan tour! – h!

Snapshots, Elsewhere: Hanalei, 29, Jersey City

Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.

Hanalei, 29, Jersey City, NJ


What do you love most about where you live? What I love most about Jersey City is that I live on the block where I was raised. I love that familiarity.


What would you spend your last $5 on? Probably a carton of eggs and some tofu.


Why did you choose these 3 items? They were the most accessible to me. Not complicated at all… 


Cup of coffee – Dunkin Donuts, $1.99
Loaf of bread – Shop Rite, $0.99
Gasoline – Shell, $4.53/gallon


Hanalei is a writer, performer, and community organizer from the New York City area. She has always loved, and will always love Jersey City.

Bank of America Doesn’t Think You’re Doing Too Bad. Asks You for $5 More.

Taking a quick break from all the happenings at Wall Street (post forthcoming!), BECAUSE YOU MIGHT BE LOSING MONEY! Seen:


“Starting in 2012, Bank of America will impose a $5 flat fee each month you use your debit card to pay for purchases directly. If you use your debit card only to take out money from the ATM, you’ll remain fee-free.
So far Bank of America has received the most flack because it’s the biggest bank, levying the highest fee. However, many banks are upping their monthly service fees, canceling debit rewards programs or changing the qualifications for opening checking accounts. (Check our handy chart below to see who’s doing what.) In fact, as of this year, only 45% of checking accounts are free, with no strings attached, down from 65% in 2010. “


Crazy right?  Well, you’re not the only one to think so.  As of the writing of this blog, about 200,000 of your closest friends are a bit bothered by this news.  Help them get to 300,000 signatures at !  ABC News even tracked them down for comment:


However, BoA isn’t the only culprit.  Tons of banks are now charging consumers for debit card usage.  Luckily, LearnVest summed it all up for us plebians:

Bank What’s Changed? Does It Affect You? Active?
Bank of America $5 fee for debit card use Yes, if you don’t have a BofA mortgage or $20,000 balance Early 2012
Citibank Higher monthly service fees for many accounts; higher minimums to qualify for free accounts Depends on your checking account; read this for details December 9, 2011
HSBC Higher ATM fees for using competitor’s bank ($2.50 vs. $2) If you take out money at a non-bank ATM In effect
J.P. Morgan Chase $3 fee for debit card use; no more debit rewards program; charge for receiving paper bills Debit card fees apply to some accounts opened in Wisconsin; canceled rewards affect all; if you receive bills in the mail In effect
Regions Financial Corp. $4 fee for debit card use Some consumer checking accounts In effect
SunTrust Banks $5 fee for debit card use; no more reward points Debit card fees for EveryDay Checking accounts opened since June; rewards canceled for all In effect
TDBank $2 fee for using non-bank ATM If you take out money at a non-bank ATM In effect
Wells Fargo $3 fee for debit card use; no more debit card rewards Fee for checking accounts opened in Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington; rewards canceled everywhere Debit card fees start October 14, 2011; rewards canceled October 15

Fresh out of this recession; Tips for the poorly privileged…