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With all the doom-and-gloom talk of our financial situation, staying upbeat can be tougher than ever. Simple strategies, however, can be used to take your mind off your budget and focused on the positive. We checked in with everyday Janes (and one Nathan) to get their tips and tactics on keeping your smile in the face of budgetary stress.

“I’ve been taking on home projects. I do the work myself, learn a new hobby or skill and feel amazing when I’ve accomplished the goal at a fraction of the cost. Right now I’m re-doing my bathroom floor, but I’ve also refurbished an antique chair that I got for $20 at a flea market and painted my bedroom wall a fun spring color.”
—Loretta, 50, Evanston, Ill.

“I talk to my mom a lot. She's great at helping me keep perspective because she's lived through other tough economic times and [shows] me how to focus on what's important, like what I already have instead of what I don't have or might lose.” 
—Lilly, 26, Boston

“I make sure my body stays in a happy place. It's that 'act happy, be happy' philosophy. I watch my posture when I walk to make sure I'm holding myself with confidence and I always do a self-check at my desk to make sure I'm not slouching. If I feel like my energy is dragging, I'll do some stretches just to get the feeling of being uplifted and alive. Plus, when I concentrate on my body, I'm in the moment and not worrying.”
—Gina, 34, Berkeley, Calif.

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“I’m very aware of the types of music I listen to. I like songs that get me motivated in the mornings, keep me feeling creative at work and push my energy up so I don’t skip out on the gym. It’s easy to let stress worry you or drag you down, so I use music focus to stay positive, inspired and happy.”
—Jenny, 30, Denver

“I’ve prioritized my luxury services into what I can do myself, then use the extra money to keep my gym membership and a trainer once a week. While this seems like a luxury itself, I’ve reorganized my budget by cutting out extras, plus the gym keeps me in goods spirits, because I look and feel healthier and burn off stress.” 
—Sharon, 39, Des Plaines, Ill.

“I’m networking [with] my friends by hosting parties and get-togethers around an activity, like bowling, every month. They’re informal, but I bring together a bunch of people from all walks of life to share ideas about new opportunities, potential leads, etc. My friends and I all know many people who have lost their jobs so this is one way to get everyone out of the house, staying social and possibly meeting new people who can help. The parties are very low-key and I simply let each person know of one other person they might want to chat with.”
—Carrie, 32, Stamford, Conn.

“My wife and I have decided not to order take out during the entire month of March. Instead of ordering in and eating in front of the television, we’re planning menus together, making dinner and eating while talking to each other at the table. It’s been fun and romantic, plus we’re using the time in the kitchen to stay connected on what’s happening in each other’s lives. We’re definitely making this a habit.”
—Nathan, 35, New York City

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