Dark clouds rise over the New York Stock Exchange as the United States falls into another Great Depression. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed and fortunes have been lost. Soup kitchens are filled and Americans who once lived paycheck-to-paycheck are now without money or food.
This paints an especially bleak scenario, but an economic crisis is not science fiction. Let us pretend for a moment we’ve been thrown into a ferocious economic depression and, just like any depression, it’s been so sudden we had no chance to prepare for it. What do we do in this case? How can we save some money? Have we properly prepared?
It’s implicitly harder to save money when in a depression. Our income can be cut in half or eliminated completely. If a second Great Depression strikes, there is one thing we can do: embrace a frugal life.
Here are 14 ways of saving money in such a situation:
1. Purchasing only the necessaries
We are accustomed to buying what we want, rather than what we need. This changes now. If a depression occurs, purchasing necessities is the name of the game and name brands are out of the question. Generic brands can help us save a lot of money and, let’s face it, a brand means nothing when people are poor.
2. Rediscovering our definition of entertainment
The first thing you should cut out from your everyday life is entertainment electricity. You can replace television with reading, game systems with outdoor play, and iPads with drawing. Rediscover your imagination and use electricity only when necessary.
3. Growing our own food
Vegetables aren’t that expensive, but a depression would cause their prices to skyrocket. Vegetable seeds are cheaper than the vegetables themselves and produce a harvest of edible items. Depending on how long the depression is expected to last, starting a garden would be a priority. You can cook a variety of meals with potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic as key ingredients.
4. Washing clothes in a lake and collecting rainwater
Not too many years ago, mass-produced washing machines were a luxury only for the rich. In villages across the world, entire civilizations of people still wash their clothes in lakes and rivers and dry them on clotheslines. Can you imagine how much water you would save every month? Collecting rainwater also is a great idea for saving money you’d be better putting toward bills.
5. Limiting the heat
Heating a house takes a lot of money. During the winter, you should turn down the heat considerably. You can make up for the warmth you lose with thick, fluffy blankets. It would be idyllic to have a fireplace in your house. This way, you would be able to warm up the house with wood you can gather from outside, without paying a dime.
6. Say goodbye to AC
It doesn’t matter if the weather is hot. Air conditioning is now for the rich, and we are not rich. It eats up a lot of electricity. Go into the shade of a tree or go swimming in a lake or river to cool down. Air conditioning usually only works to keep a house cool when it is running consistently. That’s a huge hole in one’s budget.
7. Barter and share with your neighbors
You can go grocery shopping together whenever you can afford it and split the final sum and the products. You even can barter for something they have that you want. Maybe you have a skill that they need. On top of that, it may make you better friends than you already were. Saving and socializing – two birds with one stone.
8. Microwave hard bread
Don’t throw away the bread if you forgot to seal the bag and it turned stale. One minute in the microwave and it’s soft and edible again. However, make sure it doesn’t have mold. You wouldn’t want to save money only to spend it on hospitalization for food poisoning.
9. Stop using the car altogether
Harsh, yes, but necessary in such a situation. The average American spends a monthly fortune on gas. Not to mention all sorts of maintenance costs. When you can’t afford these, it’s probably better to park the car indefinitely. At least until the economy shows signs of rejuvenation. Use your bike or the bus, instead, or even walk if the destination is close enough to you.
10. Quitting meat
It may sound as hard as quitting a drug, but it’s not. Unless you have your own animals, paying for meat might not be an option during an economic crisis. If you feel as though you’re dying because you haven’t eaten meat in two days, you can rely on soy. Depending on how you cook it, the taste is comparable to that of genuine meat, and it’s extremely cheap. Guess what? You even can plant your own in your garden.
11. Fish & Hunt
If the thought of quitting meat is too much for you, obtain your fishing and hunting licenses. One deer can yield more than thirty pounds of edible meat. Fish will last a considerably shorter time, but is filled with a lot of health benefits, such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
To dumpster-dive “successfully,” there would have to be people who throw away good stuff, which is less likely to happen during a depression. But it doesn’t hurt to try. I certainly am not talking about food – that, indeed, is far from desirable, but about things you can repair and reuse.
13. Scotch tape or super glue your tattered shoes
You may have to do it when you can’t afford a new pair. It’s probably for the best, since people have this bad habit of throwing away shoes with minor defects. There are people who wear a single pair of sneakers throughout an entire year. When they get torn, they’re not thrown away unless they can’t be stitched back up again.
14. Stop using the phone
Cell phone prices are bad, especially when you barely have money to get by as it is. It’s ironic, but during economic turmoil, we suddenly are reminded we used to have face-to-face conversations. So, you should try revamping the art of in-person conversation rather than using money you don’t have to pay your cell phone bill.
The lifestyle described above already is employed by millions worldwide. As more and more people turn to a frugal life, we are setting up ourselves to be prepared in case of an economic crisis.
No one knows when we will face another economic downfall or complete collapse, but it’s better to prevent than to cure. At least now you have a few tips on how to cut your expenses should such a catastrophe befall us in the near future.
Are you using any of these depression saving tips while on your Spending Fast?
Mr. and Mrs. Beatles write about their journey to frugal living and paying off debt at their blog, Stacking Pennies.