Although my personal financial situation hasn't changed as a result of the worsening economy, I have found it to be a useful opportunity to get back in touch with frugality.
I have found it quite fun and exhilarating to embrace a more frugal lifestyle, and have exposed my tendency to go shopping when stressed rather than deal with the stress itself.
My biggest challenge, I have found, is not a desire to buy clothing, shoes or accessories; it's that I want a new duvet cover. There is no real reason for wanting it other than the fact that I'm tired of our current one. A year ago I wouldn't have hesitated, but this year I find myself constantly looking and almost buying, but holding back. As I consider each purchase, I come back to the fact that my current duvet cover works great. It's attractive, and it has been a workhorse. It's nowhere near the end of its life despite 4 years of service.
So ... there is the creative, unfettered part of me that says "what are you worried about? Just buy it! It's beautiful and will make you happy!"
Then there is the rational, prudent side of me that says "what are you really buying here? Happiness? A new duvet cover will not make you happy - only you can make you happy."
I am left wondering: am I being cruel to myself by not buying a new duvet cover, or am I being kind to myself by recognizing that money can't buy happiness?