Consumers cut back on small pleasures

Jepson ate an energy bar before working out five days a week. He's still does, but now he's buying Tiger's Milk bars at Trader Joe's for about 59 cents each.

At $1.20 less per bar, he figures his annual savings is about $312. "I'm in a different financial position than I was five years ago," he says. "I want to save."

Jepson's move is not a movement, according to PowerBar spokeswoman Kathleen Boyle. "Our data shows that the PowerBar business remains healthy."

From Starbucks lattes to Folgers

To say legal secretary Angela Harris loves Starbucks is an understatement.

At least four times a week, she would plunk down $3.46 for a beloved Iced Mocha Latte. She was spending more than $55 a month, or about $664 a year.

Now, she makes Folgers coffee at home and squirts in some Hershey's syrup.

It "doesn't taste the same," says Harris. "But with gasoline at $3 per gallon, I can pass up Starbucks."

Starbucks has had other issues in addition to the economy and is in the midst of a plan to revitalize its focus on its customers' experience. "We are taking bold steps to reignite the emotional attachment with our customers and make foundational changes to our business," CEO Howard Schultz says.

At its March 19 annual meeting, Starbucks will reveal five new consumer initiatives. It also is testing $1 regular coffees in some Seattle stores.

Surviving on plain water

A glass of water never tasted right without some Crystal Light flavoring, says Sharon Honeywell, a bookkeeper from Flourtown, Pa. Her favorite flavors: green tea and raspberry.

Around Christmas, when the weather got cold and the budget got tight, she quit cold turkey and now tries to drink plain tap water.

"Sometimes I miss it," she says. "I get a craving for something besides water," so she treats herself to a soft drink once in a while.

Crystal Light spokeswoman Bridget MacConnell says the company "listens to what consumers want" and has been trying to offer it, such as enhanced versions with vitamins.

No more $100 designer jeans

Visits to Spa Nordstrom jwn for Deshaun Davis are few now. The college professor from North Richland Hills, Texas, found herself spending $311.76 monthly at the department store's spa for such services as $85 facials and $25 lip waxes.

While she was in the store, she'd been known to saunter over to the sales floor and pick up a $100 pair of designer jeans.

Now, it's $19.95 jeans at Gap Outlet gps.

"I'm never going to pay $100 for jeans again," says Davis.

The upscale chain has felt some economic chill, but spokeswoman Brooke White says, "While we may face short-term challenges, we focus our efforts on things within our control. Things like treating each customer with respect."

After Davis cut back her treatments — "I've only gone once since January," she says — Nordstrom noticed. Her beautician has sent her notes that she's missed.

TELL US: Are you changing your spending habits because of the slowing economy? If so, what are you doing?

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