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10 reasons to love a recession

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But no, we can't make your little sister stop kicking you under the table.

Shorter lines at the pump
It seems like only yesterday we witnessed the thrilling rush-hour road rage exchanges at every metropolitan gas station across America as gas hogs great and small furiously jockeyed for the pumps.

Not anymore.

Ever since gas topped the magical $4 tipping point, you can fill up, wash the windows, check the oil, enjoy a leisurely roller-cooked hotdog and a 32-ounce giant gulp, and even grab a power nap before the next customer appears in your rearview mirror.

Can curb service of Red Bull and Slim Jims be far behind?

Less junk mail
Thanks to the presumptive recession, many of us have recently glimpsed the back of our mailboxes for the first time in years.

According to the Chicago-based research firm Mintel Comperemedia, credit card direct mail volume has dropped 19 percent since last October.

Last year, credit card issuers cut their mailings to current customers by nearly one-third (30 percent). That will free up delivery space for the junk mail we enjoy receiving: coupons.

More coupons
When the going gets tough, the tough clip coupons to help maintain their lifestyles.

A February survey by Toronto-based ICOM Information and Communications found that 67 percent of Americans are likely to use coupons during a recession, regardless of their income.

Traffic to online coupon sites is growing rapidly, with page views up 38 percent to 281 million in March compared to the previous year, according to the research firm comScore.

Restaurants in particular typically resort to buy-one, get-one-free offers and other discounts to fill their tables in hard times.

Peter Meyers, marketing vice president at ICOM, says coupons can save the average family 25 percent on their grocery bill, or $2,400 a year based on an $800 monthly outlay. How's that for an economic stimulus?

Free fitness
What's the official vegetable of good times? The couch potato, of course.

But as gas prices skyrocket, alternative modes of transportation are once again gaining traction. When you ride a bike, walk to the bus stop or hoof it to the train station to commute to work, you get a free workout along with saving gas money.

You can extend your free workout in other ways. Throw in a little cardio (by skipping rope, jogging or rowing) and add some upper body (with push-ups, sit-ups and free weights) and you can save the $35 to $40 a month that estimates we spend on average for a single fitness club membership.

Bargain SUVs
Not all prices go up in a recession. Case in point: gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. Once gas approached the $3.50 mark, prices of new and used SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans plummeted.

Ford and GM recently announced plant closures and production cuts at their truck and SUV facilities in response to the swift public migration to fuel-efficient compacts and hybrids.

Next: "What do Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Disney have in common?"
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