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  • Kylene Jones

Ten Steps to Prepare to Thrive When Recession Strikes

The overwhelming evidence points to a recession on the horizon. The predictions include everything from “it will be touch and go” to this is “going to be a bad one.”

Considering the forecast, it would be a good idea to batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm. We have outlined 10 action items you can take today to reduce the impact this storm will have on you and the ones that you love.

Unique circumstances will require individual adaptation to these action items, but they are a good starting point. You will likely need to make some tough decisions. Your level of preparedness when the storm hits may seriously impact your comfort level and ability to survive the storm.

Ten Steps (Actionable Items) to Prepare for a Recession

#1 – Critically evaluate your standard of living to increase your discretionary income.

Recessions tend to bring employment challenges and financial instability. That means that you may be forced to make tough decisions down the road due to economic issues. Making tough decisions now can help to free up discretionary income to put you in a healthier financial position.

A few areas where you may want to take a close look at in your budget include:

  • Food – Food is a necessary expenditure that usually has a little wiggle room in it. You need to eat healthily and enjoy the social experiences that surround food. Where can you cut and still eat well? Perhaps take a sack lunch to work, eat at home more often, learn to cook from scratch, shop sales more often, and reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. Can you grow some of your own food?

  • Digital entertainment – How much are you spending on cable television or subscriptions? What can you do to reduce this expenditure?

  • Grooming – Are there less expensive options available for haircuts, hair color, and nails? It is important to be neat and clean. Can you trade services with a local beautician for haircuts?

  • Clothes – It might just be time to clamp down on your clothing budget except for absolute necessities. Keep an eye out at garage sales or online classifieds for children’s shoes and clothes. You do need to buy ahead to make sure children have clothes as they grow. Sponsor “community clothing swaps” where everyone brings their unwanted clothes, and anyone can take whatever they want or need. Anything remaining at the end of the event is donated to a local thrift store.

  • Phone – Do you still have a landline that you could cancel? How much are you spending on cell phone bills? Do you really need all the services that you are paying for?

  • Basic utilities – What can you do to be more energy-efficient and lower your electricity bill? Can you turn the thermostat a few degrees colder in the winter and warmer in the summer? Can you reduce water consumption to save on your monthly water bill? If you pay for two garbage cans, can you get by with only one?

  • Housing – Is your home mortgage payment or apartment rent more than you can realistically afford? Is it possible for you to downsize to give you more wiggle room in your monthly expenditures?

  • Transportation – Can you do anything to reduce your monthly transportation costs? Purchase a less expensive car? Utilize public transportation? Wash the car less often? Combine errands into one trip? Walk more? Ride a bike? Carpool?

  • Paper product consumption – Is it possible to use hand towels instead of paper towels? Cloth napkins in place of paper napkins? How about installing an inexpensive bidet to decrease toilet paper usage?

Look at every area of expenditures and critically evaluate where you can make changes. It is important to understand that every little bit of money that you save adds up. Think about how much easier you might be able to sleep if you trimmed a few hundred dollars off your regular monthly expenditures.

#2 – Proactively manage debt.

The best plan is to be free from debt, but at this point that probably isn’t realistic for many. As the reality of economic challenges knocks down your door, be proactive in managing that debt. Don’t just ignore the past due notices. They will eventually catch up to you and you will be in a worse position.

Contact your creditors and explain the situation. Make payment arrangements and do everything that you can to keep your commitments. Good communication can make all the difference in a creditor’s willingness to work with you.

Pay secured debt first. If there just isn’t money to pay all of your bills one month, always pay the debt that has been secured with your assets first. Your mortgage, your vehicle, and other debts that can be repossessed should take the highest priority. You may need to liquidate unnecessary assets to stay afloat.

Unsecured credit card debt can be pushed to the back of the line until you are in a better position.

Medical and dental creditors will usually take small token payments as long as they are made consistently.

#3 – Build an emergency fund.

Build a healthy emergency fund that can cover your basic necessities in the event that your income is compromised. This emergency fund should not be touched unless it is a true emergency.

Ideally, you should build this fund to cover your basic expenses for one month, then continue building it until you have at least 6 months of liquid assets to draw on if your loss of income lasts for an extended period of time. This fund will buy you time to get your house back in order.

#4 – Diversify and improve job skills.

Layoffs are sometimes just across the board and there is nothing that you can do to save your job. However, when an employer is making the hard decision to let people go sometimes it is a house cleaning opportunity to weed out the weak performers. Don’t be the weak performer.

Take advantage of educational and learning opportunities at work. Be the person that the company just can’t survive without because of your positive attitude, work ethic, and your skills and knowledge. Seize every opportunity to learn new skills and increase your value in the workplace.

#5 – Build a skill set outside of your usual employment.

Increase your worth by learning valuable skills that can be useful in any economy. Learn to work with your hands in trades like construction, maintenance, minor engine repair, auto repair, sewing, baking, gardening, and homesteading. You will save money doing things yourself as well as be a great candidate for a variety of job opportunities that are needed in every economy.

#6 – Build a well-stocked pantry.

Food is a necessity of life. Imagine having a well-stocked pantry that would allow you to skip the grocery store for 6 months. Storing basic dry goods can ensure that you have the foundational resources that you need to feed your family regardless of your income or the cost of food.

#7 – Grow some of your own food.

One of the best ways to ensure that you have food to eat is to grow a garden in your own backyard. Plant fruit trees, grape vines, and berry bushes. You can intermingle edible crops in your landscape. The food you grow on your own property is available at a moment’s notice only a few steps away.

Food that you store will eventually be consumed and need to be replaced. Your garden is a perpetual supply of nutritious foods that can be a tremendous blessing during economic challenges. Life is always better when you have a full tummy.

#8 – Build a home cottage industry.

A recession may change your employment opportunities due to the loss of a job but that doesn’t have to limit your income or define you. What can you do to create a business in your own home? The business must be able to provide a unique value to others who are struggling with finances. Don’t think along the lines of exotic trinkets but rather items or services that are needed in everyday life.

A few ideas for a home business that might thrive during a recession include computer repair, childcare, woodworking, elderly care, gunsmithing, virtual tutoring, welding and fabrication, furniture construction and repair, beekeeping, knitting, knife sharpening service, bakery, cleaning service, leather crafting, catering, hair salon, handyman, pet grooming, sewing, chick hatchery, small livestock breeder, rabbit farmer, and backyard egg production.

Think of products or services that have strong demand and can realistically be produced at home during challenging economic times.

#9 – Actively build a community network of good people.

Start today to actively build mutually beneficial relationships with good people. Think of bartering. A recession will produce unmet needs across the board. What skills, knowledge, and resources do you have to offer that can help people in your community group? Who has the skills or resources that you may need to make it through challenging times? It’s time to build some strong friendships.

When a community has a variety of people and skills, most group needs are easily met. One member may have a large garden with established fruit trees that produces more than enough to share. Another may be in the medical field. Another might make amazing baked goods. Another might be a skilled mechanic. When this group works together, the unique gifts of everyone can bless the entire community. Reach out and build some great friendships.

#10 – Go and play!

Wholesome recreation and relaxation may be listed last on the list, but it isn’t the least important. It is critical to take the time to enjoy life. Have fun and forget all the craziness in the world for a little while. You need a reason to want to keep going through the hard times.

It doesn’t have to cost money to have fun and relax. Picnic in the park, take a hike, play board games, invite friends over for dessert, or watch a comedy. Take time to laugh until your sides ache and the tears flow from your eyes. It will do more good than you can imagine.

Life is much better when you have a positive attitude. You can’t maintain a cheerful perspective if all you do is work and worry. We give you permission to work hard AND play hard.

Start Preparing for a Recession Today!

Don’t waste any more time worrying about the upcoming recession. Let’s get to work and take action! Get a pen and paper, start brainstorming ideas, and develop a plan. Then get to work and execute that plan so that you can be ready when the storm hits.


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