Times are tough. If you've got a job (which according to the employment data, most do) and can support yourself, you're still spending, but you're probably more mindful of the price tag. The transition from a consumptive-based economy to a parsimonious one has been swift (the US savings rate increased to 4.2 percent last month from zero percent in 2005). Maybe you see it in your own habits. For example, I now know where to get four bananas for $1, rather than the three for $1 near work.
The term "Recessionista" has been in fashion for former fashionistas who seek chic bargains amid the downturn. My goal last weekend was to take this concept and ask random folks in the neighborhood: in what way have you become a "recessionista" in the post-crash economy?
Here are my five favorite responses:
- Only withdraw money from your bank's ATM. "P" informed me that she had saved $60 per month by walking two extra blocks to her bank ATM.
- Use public transportation or walk. If you live in a city with subways and buses, you're crazy to spend $10 on a cab (sorry, hacks!). "D" walks everywhere, noting that it's good for her and easier on the wallet.
- Hit Happy Hour. "J" used to go out every Saturday night to a nice restaurant. She now heads to Harry's Burrito before 7:00 PM, where the bar bill is cut in half and the portions are large enough to share with friends.
- Fire your broker/advisor: "M" and "E" told me that they lost money like everyone else last year, but they found it annoying that their broker hasn't contacted them since last summer. "If I felt like he was doing something, I would have stayed, but I can do nothing too, at a fraction of the price."
- Bargain with your service providers: "K" and "E" had been paying their CPA a hefty fee for many years, even though their tax returns had actually become simpler. The asked for a reduction in their bill and rather than lose their business, the CPA cut his fee in half.