When the economy is in a recession and things like job security become uncertain, we need whatever control we can get over our lives. In order to survive the recession, we must think differently because we can’t control the job market, declining home values or increasing prices, but we can control how we spend money on certain things like food and household necessities.
This started as a list for myself, then I kept adding ideas inspired from what I’ve read and learned over the years. Most aren’t anything novel, but a good synopsis of other ideas shared on this website. I’d love to keep this list growing!
40 ways to Survive the Recession:
1. Buy groceries, particularly staples, at ALDI. Also buy “loss leaders” (like meat on sale) advertised weekly at stores like Cub and Rainbow.
2. Purchase baby, personal hygiene and household needs at Walmart.
3. Prepare foods from scratch & using simple items whenever possible.
4. Be creative with food items on hand. For one meal idea, mix a can of tuna with heated pork & beans (surprisingly good and nutritious! I ate this while growing up). Or make stir-fried chicken & vegetables with teriyaki sauce, then pour over ramen noodles and add pineapple on the side.
5. Use all food – be not wasteful. Clean out refrigerator regularly. Keep items close to their “perishing point” visible in the front (plus that way you’ll likely avoid discovering some putrid, foul-smelling unidentifiable masses in the back of your fridge like I have a few too many times).
6. Drink water with lemon (instead of unnecessary beverages, except juice and milk which have valuable nutrients).
7. Regularly compare rates for insurance, cable, etc. For example, Comcast will repeatedly give customers promotional rates if you call. My Internet service promotional rate just expired, so I called and got my service upgraded to a higher speed at a 3-month promotional rate that equals what I’m paying now (so I basically got a free upgrade for 3 months). And there’s never a contract beyond the promotional time period.
8. Buy clothes at thrift stores and garage sales. Thrift stores have coupons sometimes, and almost always will have a “discount” day, too, so check them out for even better savings. Using a coupon I got in my local coupon mailer, I just got a BAGFUL of about 15 like new, brand name items of clothing for myself and daughter for $10 at my local thrift store.
9. Pay cash for EVERYTHING. Avoid using credit cards – you never know what your finances will be like when that credit card bill comes in the mail. Plus, remember that credit is largely what got us into this recession in the first place.
10. Brown bag lunches. Bring food from home to get through the day.
11. Drink coffee made at home.
12. When in need of a household repair or babysitter, ask for help from friends and family whenever possible (and offer help as well). If you don’t have friends, make friends.
13. Transfer savings into a higher interest earning account.
14. Enjoy what you already have! Movies, books, music, etc. Right now I’m reading a wonderful book I had sitting on my shelf for years.
15. Borrow items from the library. Libraries in the Twin Cities have an EXCELLENT selection. Plus you can look up and reserve items on their websites.
16. Exercise at home and go for walks (instead of belonging to a gym).
17. Make gifts instead of buying them. Plan ahead.
18. In the winter, turn heat down, use fireplace/wood stove, insulate, and wear a sweater.
19. In the summer, use fans instead of air conditioner.
20. Clip coupons and use them whenever possible! Available in the Sunday newspaper, online, and in coupon mailers.
21. Pay bills electronically to save money on envelopes and postage.
22. Sell items online to make extra money (and more $$ than at a garage sale). Half.com is the most worthwhile for selling mass market items (books, CDs, DVDs).
23. Buy generic and store brand items (usually no comparison in quality).
24. Buy in bulk. If you have a willing friend with a warehouse membership, go shopping with them occasionally.
25. Take advantage of all the BARGAINS out there (one good thing that comes out of a recession). Just about every store out there has to be extra competitive right now. Shop around.
26. Be GRATEFUL for what you have.
27. Update resume, and keep it updated.
28. Be constantly learning and updating/improving marketable skills. Read materials from the library, be aware of what’s needed in the future of your field of employment.
29. Make a list before shopping and stick to it.
30. Buy used whenever possible. Toys, for example.
31. Bring your own filtered water with you instead of buying bottled water.
32. Take care of/maintain what you have. This applies to everything from your car to your appliances to your health.
33. Do it yourself. See if you can fix something yourself instead of right away calling someone or replacing it.
34. If you must eat out or see a movie, do so in the early afternoon instead of evening. Prices are cheaper then for both meals (lunch instead of dinner portions) and movie tickets (matinees).
35. Turn lights and appliances off when not in use.
36. Spend time with others who also try to save money and survive the recession. Keep each other motivated! Have a fun get-together making a meal from scratch and watching movies from the library.
37. Limit time in a store. The more time you spend there, the more you typically spend.
38. Cancel unnecessary memberships and magazine subscriptions.
39. Cancel unnecessary credit cards (only one is necessary – unless you have a whole bunch. Canceling a lot of credit cards at once is harmful to one’s credit rating. Stupid but true.)
40. “Save first, spend rest.” Even if you can only save a little bit, remember that every little bit helps!
Your ideas are welcome! To add your own suggestions, click on the title of this post above, or “Comments” or “No Comments” above, then you can scroll down and add your comment.
Tell us below how you’re helping your family survive the recession!