This study examines consumer attitudes and behavior during periods of economic contraction. Despite the importance of such research topic, little is known about consumption decisions during recessions and the way consumers re-organize their lives and reassess their priorities. In particular, the study aims to answer the following research questions: i) what are the main direct/tangible and indirect/intangible effects of crises on daily consumption decisions; and ii) what are the main consumers’ coping strategies, namely ‘what’ and ‘how’ they buy. The research was conducted during the Portuguese economic downturn in 2014. The Portuguese economic crisis had its peak in 2011, with the Portuguese Government request for financial assistance to the European Commission. However, in 2014, Portuguese consumers were still facing hard times, serious monetary constrains and high levels of unemployment (13.9% which compares to 7.6% in 2008). The fieldwork adopts a qualitative approach to capture, not only the purchase dimension but also, and fundamentally, the social and cultural context of consumption. The sample includes experienced and mature consumers, with different education and economic levels, professional occupation and family status. It also combines employed and unemployed consumers. The study reveals that, during recession, consumers are very committed to keep spending under control through explicit budgeting rules. They become very price conscious, less impulsive and more frugal. Simultaneously, in what concerns the more indirect and intangible effects, empirical evidence shows that consumers feel concerned and insecure about the future, even when they do not experience serious monetary constraints. In general, there is a major change in consumption patterns and several adaptation strategies to consuming less and differently.