Americans Hunker Down in Recession

Instead of spending money at the bars, the 23-year-old and her friends recently hosted a pizza party and the guests played Scrabble. And when they do go out, they "pre-game" and drink up before leaving the apartment.

Even those who until only a few months ago fueled the bar scene in New York City are finding creative ways to party at home.

Nell Wright, a 25-year-old who works for a nonprofit, said that since the recession kicked in, she is more likely to open a bottle of wine and stay in.

Recession Fuels Home Entertaining

"I can get a bottle of wine at Trader Joe's for a few dollars, where I can't get a glass in a bar for less than $6," she told "When I first moved to New York I went out so much more. Now I would rather hunker down and hang out with friends."

Wright is also increasingly conscious of prices. In New York state, if a cashier does not ring up the sales price, the customer is entitled to the product free.

"When I go to the Food Emporium they sell avocados, two for $4, but they always ring them up at $2.50 each," she said. "I always hold up the line, almost every time."

Ellen Whelan-Wuest, who was briefly unemployed when her job campaigning for Barack Obama ended in November, is also reining in spending. She recently moved all the furniture to the bedroom of her 500-square-foot Brooklyn apartment to entertain 15 guests.

"We had so much fun," she told "We borrowed folding chairs from a youth bookstore down the street. We made pasta, because you can make a lot for very little money and had punch and asked everyone to bring dessert, hors d'oeuvres and wine."

Afterward, the crowd settled down to a Netflix film. To save money Whelan-Wuest and her boyfriend canceled their by-mail subscription and watched it online.

In reality, the couple have no financial worries because she recently took a job with a state senator and he works for the U.S. Census Bureau, but for them, like other young consumers, the current economic climate is "really scary."

"Just knowing people were laid off, I feel bad because I have a job," Whelan-Wuest said. "It's sort of funny because we have not been hit by the recession. We are pretty secure."

"But you realize the stress of everything around you," she said. "I wake up every day and know so many people have been laid off. I feel very guilty about spending money. It's weird, because there are sales everywhere. But it just seems wrong to go shopping."

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