Positive Ways to Survive a Recession
The news is depressing. Your hours at work have been cut and may be cut even more. You feel helpless to stop the downward spiral. You are worried about how to feed your family and pay for gas. How will you get the items your family needs with a limited income? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
First, go on a news diet. Limit the amount of time that you listen to, watch or read the news. Find a website that gives reports on the good things that are happening. If you want to see what you can do to help the economy at the grass roots level, join moveon.org. Quit shaking your head and moaning and look for positive things that you can do in your community to help. We are all in this together. Be a part of the solution.
Cut home costs by checking ways to save energy, such as turning lights off when you leave a room, putting a brick in the tank to save water when flushing, seal around doors, break out the sweaters and turn the heat down. Sort possessions and donate or sell what you don’t really need and haven’t used.
Do you have an extra room? Consider taking in a boarder or sharing the house with another family. Protect yourself well and do a background check and check references first. Despite the news, there are good people out there. During the Great Depression many families took in boarders to make ends meet, going as far as serving meals to their guests during the family mealtimes.
If you want to save on gas, consider carpooling with someone near your home. Switch off driving week by week or choose one driver and pay your share of the gas. It is good for your carbon footprint as well as a money saver.
If you have extra time on your hands, try volunteering. You will be socially networking with like minded people and may learn of opportunities for jobs or education that you never dreamed of. Volunteer at a senior center and find out what the seniors did during the depression. Listen to their stories. There is so wisdom we can gather from them, if only we will listen.
Dust off and redo your resume. Make sure to highlight skills you may picked up along the way. Write a generic cover letter and then personalize it for every place you apply for work. Check out businesses that are booming because of the recession, such as discount food stores, and see if there is part time work available. Many places may not have a full time position, but do have part time or substitute opportunities. Don’t be afraid to step outside your box or take a step down to do menial labor if that is what is offered. Farmers are often in need of workers and say that it is hard to find local folk that will work hard. They would love to hire local. This is not a time to be picky.
If you choose to do in home daycare, check out licensing and insurance needs first. Get your agreements down on paper. There are federal programs that reimburse for healthy lunches. Perhaps you can fill a needed niche, such as caring for children overnight or advertise that you will watch children on weekends or during a family vacation.. How about accepting drop ins or pay as you go? For long term daycare, decide what you will accept and what you require up front. Be firm and do not allow parents to get behind in their payments. Accept collateral to sell if need be. You can say no and fill a vacant slot rather than babysit for free.
Have you ever wanted to work with animals? Becoming a vet tech is number two on a list of 150 recession proof jobs. For this list of recession proof jobs, check out the Times article at:
How can you stretch your shrinking food dollar even more.? Eat before you go shopping to cut down on impulse buying. Make a list and stick with it. Involve older children in picking up things on the list and share with them that you are trying to keep to your budget. Buy what is on sale. Cut back on convenience foods such as chips and store bought cookies. Instead, make popcorn or oven tortilla chips. Check out the discounted meats and produce.
Consider cutting out meat for at least two meals per week. Have you ever made meatballs without meat? A recipe I have used for many years and on a small budget has been Buttenchatas, a type of meatball containing no meat, that resembles a matzo ball. They have lots of flavor and can be put in different sauces
1 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
cup grated Parmesan cheese (or any kind of cheese will do in a pinch)
cup cottage cheese (optional)
cup finely chopped nuts (optional way to add more protein)
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of canola oil
Beat eggs well. Add cheese ,salt and 3 cloves of garlic that has been put through a garlic press or chopped fine. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. Allow to sit for a few minutes while putting the 2 cups of oil into a small saucepan. Heat the oil to simmering. With wet hands, shape teaspoons of the breadcrumb mix into balls. Drop them into the hot oil and cook until a light golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan and take them out as soon as they are golden all over. Do this in batches, laying the finished buttenchatas on a paper towel lined plate. Simmer in your favorite sauce.
I make a sweet and sour sauce from two cans of tomato sauce, cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup cider vinegar. I add pineapple just before serving and pour it all on a bed of rice. I have also cooked these in chicken soup and in a Swedish meatball sauce. They pick up flavors from whatever they are cooked in and have a nice texture.
Finally, research ways to improve your life with a minimum outlay of money. The libraries are full of good publications that give step by step directions on saving money, cooking, gardening, and home repairs.
Try reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn and the Penny Pincher’s Almanac: Hints & Tips on Living well for Less by Reader’s Digest . A great website devoted to creative solutions for living on less is : http://www.thesimpledollar.com/