Yesterday, Sep­tember 16, I barely escaped a public meltdown.

After returning home to New York City on a flight from San Diego at 1 a.m. and working for three hours, I caught four hours of sleep, woke up, showered and started to work again.

At 10:10 a.m., I took the subway to Penn Station to catch the 10:44 a.m. train to work, a train even a late arriver like me rarely uses. Unbeknownst to me, New Jersey Transit had changed the 10:44 to 10:38. Upon discovering this, I nearly turned into Mount St. Helens in the middle of Penn Station, before muttering a few choice words under my breath and deciding to chill out.

These days, you don't have to be watching politicians or professional athletes to see adults behaving badly. Boorish behavior is becoming almost ubiquitous, whether it's in supermarkets, airports, movie theaters or you name it.

Part of the explanation lies in the long-term decline in manners. But an equal share of blame can be traced to the stress this recession has placed on all of us. That doesn't excuse it.

Over the last 12 months, I've seen behavior at financial planning conferences I never saw before in 18 years of attending these events. Speakers should be challenged with tough, thoughtful questions. Outbursts of rage, however, only reflect badly on he who throws his teddy bear.

As stressful as they may be, times like the last 21 months dare all of us to be imaginative in how we respond.

Few advisors reacted more creatively to the financial crisis than Elissa Buie and David Yeske. In this month's cover story on page 60, Senior Editor Ray Fazzi examines the way they elevated frugality to almost an art form.

Since the recession started, many of us have learned in a subliminal fashion that there are many ways to enjoy life without spending a lot of money. That's something more than a few of us had forgotten how to do. But with their "Living Big" missives to clients, Buie and Yeske put structure and form to habits the rest of us were just winging our way through.

While hardships like the financial crisis can bring out the worst in human nature, they also can bring out the best. Fazzi's story of how Buie and Yeske managed to perform the latter is well worth reading.

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