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Recession Proof Your Finances

While the economy may seem OK today, all signs are pointing to a recession in 2020. Here are some ideas to make surviving a tough economy as painless as possible.

Tip #1: Cut back on the extras 

Every family has those little extras that add up quickly. I decided to go through my bills and see what we could cut. Here is what I came up with:

  • It's nice to have access to movies and special programs on cable, but is it worth $100+ a month? We cut the cord a few years ago, here's how we did it.
  • I used to love heading out to the bookstore, but these days, I download free Kindle books on Amazon or look for sales.
  • Take-out food can take a big bite out of the budget. Aim to cook most nights of the week. Freezer cooking is also a time and money saver.
  • Watch out for hidden debits. Here are some of the most common debits . If you are no longer using the service, cancel it!

- Hulu

- Netflix

- Amazon Prime

- beauty box subscriptions


  • To save on gasoline, I combine errands and really try not to run the air conditioner, because it eats up so much gasoline. Also, we have a membership at Costco and their gasoline is always cheaper than other places.

Tip #2: Become a big time bargain shopper

  • Why pay full price when you can get something for 75% off or more? Bargain shopping can take some effort, but it's well worth it!
  • Everyone who knows me, knows I am a Target addict. Why? Because they have the best stuff on clearance. Especially when I'm looking to make a big purchase, I scout out the local Targets and see who has the item on clearance. And then I wait for the price to drop to 75% off. I also buy grocery items at Target. They tend to be cheaper than the local grocery stores. I also use the Cartwheel app everytime I shop.
  • After holidays, I shop stores clearance for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Back to School and Halloween. I'm amazed at the great stuff I get for 75% off or more. The only bummer is having to wait for a year to use the items!
  • For coupons, I have an easy system. I only clip the coupons I'm going to use or ones that I can trade online. I keep them in a three-ring binder with baseball card pages to hold the coupons. I usually make a grocery list once a week and match coupons to sales. I also save coupons for haircuts, pizza, eating out, etc. Here's more info on how I organize coupons.
  • Don't forget rebates and money back guarantee offers. When a new product comes out, many companies will offer a "try me free" deal on the item. You can find forms online and in coupon inserts.
  • I regularly search eBay for items. Sometimes you'll find the perfect deal and other times you need to watch out for inflated shipping charges.
  • I shop online at stores that offer free shipping. One of my favorites is Amazon. And be sure to shop through web sites like Ebates or upromise.com and earn back rewards (and cash) on all your purchases.

Tip 3: Stockpile What You Can

Many of my readers who had job loss the last recession found that having a stockpile saved them a lot of stress and grief. Canned foods and already made prep kits are great. Here are more items to stock up on:

  1. Rice. White rice should be used within two years after opening, brown within six months as it has more protein. You can extend the shelf life of white rice to 10 years or longer when properly sealed and stored.
  2. Flour. You can count on all-purpose flour lasting well for three to six months in its sealed bag, up to one year in the refrigerator and longer if stored in a freezer.
  3. Sugar. Sugar is one of the few products that lasts indefinitely. The only problem it presents for cooks is that it can harden. For this reason, plan on sugar having a useful shelf life of about two years.
  4. Soft grains — Barley, oats and rye are soft grains that can last as long as eight years.
  5. Hard grains — Corn, wheat and flax are in this category. They can last between 10 and 12 years.
  6. Beans — Hermetically sealed, they can last between eight and 10 years before they need to be tossed. As they age, they lose oils and may need to be ground.
  7. Pasta — It can last as long as 10 years. As with most other foods, cooler temperatures will help it last even longer.

And don't forget:

  • soap/shampoo/razors/lotion/toothpaste
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • pads/tampons
  • band-aids
  • Extra medication. We always have extra over the counter medications, like Tylenol, Pepcid, Excedrin, etc. 
  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • contact lens supplies
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
  • Other items to meet your unique family needs.

Tip 4: Pay Off Debt and Don't Get Into New Debt

When a recession hits, having lingering credit card, loans or student loans can really hold you back from getting ahead. Start now paying off small balances first (we like the Dave Ramsey method) and move onto bigger balances. And if you can hold off on getting a new car loan, remodeling the house, etc, it will help your finances in the long run. 

Tip 5: Consider Getting a Second Job

Many people call them side hustles. It's easy to get a job now working for Uber, Instacart, Shipt, Grubhub. Put the money towards your bills or paying off debt.

Tip 6: Sell Items You No Longer Need

My local PTA has a resale event twice a year for baby and children's toys, clothing and more. I've rented a table twice and made $250+. Even though that might not sound like a lot of money, it was great to get rid of my son's too-small clothing and toys he had outgrown. It's a win-win situation. I make money and declutter the house! And don't forget about Ebay!

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