While we’re waiting for the economy to really take off, this Handbook for the Newly Poor and the Poor New can help those Americans who have been working as hard as ever, but finding they don’t have quite enough cash or even credit to participate fully in America’s mainstream way of life. It can also help recent immigrants struggling to adapt to a low-income existence in a foreign land.

The Handbook identifies problems that the newly poor and the poor new are likely to encounter, and it explains how to avoid them, surmount them, cope with them, or just ignore them.

In the interests of frugality and environmentalism, to save paper we have merged our table of contents with our index and included them both in our introduction. We haven’t had time to write the actual text yet, but we’ll turn to it just as soon as we get our car through inspection.


Maintaining self-esteem

money isn’t everything

unhappy rich people, thumbnail sketches

of King Richard III, Howard Hughes

finding spiritual values in a weak economy

church services, still free


relatives, staying with

the “invitation,” negotiating extended stays


low-cost hostess gifts

sharing one bathroom: how long is a long time?

occupancy limits

time-sharing concepts

family members as “guests”

apartment or tenement: state of mind?

landlords, dodging

building supers, finding


trash-collection schedules in preferred neighborhoods

objets d’art sans argent: the best of the free calendars

moving, impromptu logistics



insurance vs. the power of prayer

funny engine sounds

what they can mean

when to start worrying


junkyards: those dogs!


getting through

waiting, things to do while

the inspector, working with

special “thank you” ‘s

dealing with rejection


waiting for, things to do while

bus-stop etiquette

managing eye contact

when it’s OK to talk

how to tell if the bus is late or was early


exact change, if you don’t have

irritable drivers, appeasing


selecting wisely

when it’s better to stand


location! location! location!

making a good first impression

grooming, posture, attire

facial expressions that make cars stop


specificity as a function of proximity; e.g., from Atlanta, “Orlando,” or “Florida”?

legibility: e.g., “Springfield, MA,” or

“Springfield, MO”?

screening for psycho drivers

telltale bumper stickers

funny eye movements

in-vehicle etiquette

expressing interest in drivers’ stories


destination: fitness


lunch pail, turning your briefcase into a

trade-off studies:

calories vs. nutrition

nutrition vs. bulk

grease and sugar vs. vitamin B-1

food vs. money

eating in day after day

variety placemats from magazine covers

the magic of Tabasco sauce

bulk food, storage tips

plastic drums as end tables

nonfat dry milk cartons as room dividers

TV cooking shows: enjoying imaginary meals

dining out(side)

all-seasons picnicking, recipes for

spaghetti alfresco

oeufs à la neige


preferred thrift shops

dressing up in other people’s clothing can be fun

period looks



see “Transportation, walking,” above, and “Appliances,” below

walk-up apartments: the original StairMaster


funny sounds

what they can mean

when to start worrying

substituting human labor for

The laundromat




waiting, what to do while

acoustic properties, enjoying

the cosmic hum, grooving on

social opportunities, maximizing

fabric softener, sharing

articles of clothing, swapping


those discount stores!

clerks, how to find

garage sales vs. yard sales vs. flea markets: distinctions with a difference?

Entertainment & recreation

conversation: taking turns talking

shopping without buying

consumerism as a drug, just say “no” to

shoppers: studies in acquisitiveness

stores: studies in display and fetishism

the park, your home away from home

drug-free parks, directory of

movies, enjoying reviews of


cable, living without

reruns, better than commercials?

commercials, better than silence?

public library

being quiet

looking at magazines

books, why some people like them


adding variety to

at home vs. outdoors

day vs. night


see also, “waiting, things to do while,” passim

Health care

short-term treatment strategies

instant relief: complaining

symptom abatement: aspirin

diversionary tactics: Epsom salts

long-term treatment: the emergency room

the waiting room, foretaste of eternity

biofeedback techniques for pain management


napping dos and don’ts

negotiating TV-channel selection

the doctor

humanitarian or entrepreneur?

his burnout, what it means for you

making the most of the one-minute exam

Family finances

deficit spending: what you can learn from the federal government

income supplements

why look up when you can look down? finding money on the sidewalk

coupons: training small children to clip

building motor, consumer, and arithmetic skills

contests, making your children enter

after-school jobs: child-labor laws, state-by-state

private charity vs. public assistance

humiliation & abnegation vs. documentation, verification, & investigation

applying for aid

the waiting room

waiting, what to do while

etiquette: what to say when you run into friends

(see also “Fashion, disguises,” above)

your caseworker

gatekeeper or frustrated philanthropist?

her burnout, what it means for you

waiting for the check: Is five months a long time?

money, running out completely

negative-balance estate-planning

concealing your heirs from your creditors

waiting to die, what to do while