Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Survival Strategy: 20 Recession-Proof Ideas

With turbulence in the financial markets and recession fears overhanging the economy, I have a game plan for dealing with difficult financial conditions. Here's how I plan to handle economic uncertainty.

  1. 1. Avoid clothing stores: I recently broke down and purchased a new outfit for my son's Bar Mitzvah, but that was my first shopping trip in over year. I plan to shop on an as-needed basis only. And when I do shop, I'll avoid trendy items that look dated before I have even unpacked my shopping bag.

  2. Limit restaurant meals: This is my biggest hurdle. I love eating out. But that's a trap: I get fatter and my bank account gets thinner. Eating out is not a frugal hobby or a productive recreational activity. The solution is to keep my house stocked with fun food, lots of salad fixings and other DIY treats.

  3. Diversify income: It's important to have a diversified source of income. As a freelance writer, that means I need a broad mix of clients and opportunities. I might even apply for a short-term part-time job to build up my emergency fund. Bottom line: Look for new sources of income.

  4. Keep learning: From graduate school to informal seminars, it's important to update my skills and knowledge, especially in the area of personal finance. I'm also working on several personal development (a-lesson-a-day) programs designed to increase my efficiency and sharpen skills.

  5. Network: Former editors and co-workers remain a steady source of job leads and other income-producing tips. That network also yields other career bonuses. But beyond the meet-and-greet perks, it's just good karma to give back to others, to say "thanks" and to stay in touch.

  6. Build a cushion: From saving spare change to banking a greater portion of my income, I want to increase my savings.

  7. Reduce electric bill: Our electric utility bill must be cut. Our neighbor's bill is half as much as our bill. (More on this next week.)

  8. Look for money leaks: Disorganization carries assorted penalties: late fees, late-registration surcharges, etc. I plan to eliminate the extra fat in our monthly charges.

  9. Monitor the laundry hamper: Occasionally, my kids will use a shirt or towel --once!!!-- and then toss it into the hamper. Confession: I'm also careless about towels. The extra loads add up. We could save at least $5-$10 a week with a better approach to towels, school uniforms and I-wore-it-once tee-shirts.

  10. Better maintenance: From car repairs to dental work, we could save more money through better care. With our car, a minor repair can develop into a big-ticket expense when we neglect the problem. That means more check-ups, more exercise and an increased level of mindful living.

My list also includes:

  1. cheaper vacations: Better planning and a tighter budget.

  2. a bare face: Do I really need to spend money on cosmetic products that just give me pimples, irritate my eyes and are made from a long list of chemicals that are possibly linked to harmful ailments?

  3. better use of the calendar: I want to do a better job of planning ahead for back to school shopping and other seasonal shopping events. Note to self: Stop waiting until Hurricane Season to buy emergency supplies. Why wait until the lines are long and the prices are high?

  4. the neater home: If the home is neater, we will be less likely to spend money to replace items that we can't find.

  5. spend more time at the library. I spend way too much money on periodicals. And besides, it's fun to get out to the library. The branch near me has a little garden, a cafe and lots of magazines. It's like a mini-vacation.

  6. local freebies: My friend Leah recently found free tickets for a stunning ballet performance. The tickets were available through our local receation center. Other opportunities are out there. I should make better use of free cultural activities.

  7. rethink our coupon strategy. I am conflicted about coupons. I'm not sure if I'm using them as effectively as possible. Am I really saving money? Do I really use or need the coupons that I clip? Am I just wasting time?

  8. spend less on office supplies: Buy home office staples through discounts and sales. Use both sides of paper as much as possible. Re-fill computer ink. Be green and save money.

  9. peddle clothes: try to sell my discarded clothes in a consignment store.

  10. relax and laugh more. It's just money. A better attitude will enhance my quality of life. Just because we're in a recession, doesn't mean that I have to be depresssed.


Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in the Spring of 2008 by DPL Press.


Nasir's Mom said...

Great ideas! Especially about having multiple sources of income and maintaining what you own to avoid having to replace or spending a lot of money on repairs!

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Wish you good luck! If you feel that you need some more inspiration, I suggest that you read an article I’ve written at my site about budget eating.

Kind regards,
Daniel Bergstrom

Unknown said...

Inspiring ideas! Good advice I will consider myself.

I've written an article regarding budget eating and how it's possible to eat correctly on a budget on my blog

Kind regards,
Daniel Bergstrom

Tabuxander said...

Thanks, good article.. multiple sources of income can be good safety net during recession.

Anonymous said...

Interesting read.
I would like to add a few suggestions.

Make your own house hold cleaners..they are very inexpensive and easy to do.

Grow a garden and learn to canned food and freeze foods.

Shop for clothes at second hand store. And hit garage sales for any neccessary items.

Keep the thermostate at 65..and put on a sweater.

Coupon shopping is great on items and brands you already buy. For basic items...generic is just as good as the name brand.

Research an item before buying it..
does it live up to the hype.

When warming up the shower (or even the sink to wash dishes)..put in bucket to catch the water your not using..and use that to water plants.

Use cloth towels and napkins in place of paper towels and napkins.

Support local business to help keep economy stronger where you live.

Group your trips.

Buy your own bags to use at the stores...most will give you credit for it on your grocery bill.

Buy a few good water bottles...and skip buying the plastic bottles.

Don Sabatini said...

Excellent article. I was searching for these type of tips from a long time.