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10 Ways to Save Money During an Economic Recession

May 16, 2008
With gas prices expected to shoot past four dollars a gallon this Summer, a housing market overwhelmed by foreclosures and rising unemployment rates throughout the country, now is the time to start thinking about how to save money and alternative ways to continue enjoying the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

1. Ask if you can telecommute to work 1-2 days a week. You know what they say about boiling a frog: "A frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough -- it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out." Use the same psychology on your boss by asking to work from home for a day or two and then gradually increasing your request until you are working from home entirely.

The best way to ensure that this will work is by being way more productive at home than you are at work (this will happen automatically for most people). It'll not only save on gas but it'll save you the headache of having to talk about American Idol around the water cooler with that lady from Accounting. If you ARE that lady from Accounting then start participating in online telecommuter communities like Web Worker Daily to help fill your social void.

Technologies to help along the way: eFax, GotVMail and GoToMeeting.

2. Start buying your music through online services like iTunes and Amazon MP3. For absolute audiophiles, buy cds and DVD-audio through online retailers like Amazon and Overstock instead of traveling to retail stores.

3. Don't buy big ticket items until the fiscal quarter reports for retail giants have been released. Familiar big box stores like Best Buy and Circuit City have been going through tough times lately and the first thing they are going to push for after a disappointing fiscal quarter are incentives to lure buyers into their stores.

This could include 0% interest for 24 months and hundreds of dollars off of retail prices. You can also find stellar deals on open box items ranging from tvs to computers and videogame systems after major holiday events like Christmas.

4. Rent movies using PPV/VoD services or through popular living room based online services like Amazon Unbox (TiVo), iTunes (AppleTV), Netflix and Xbox Live (Xbox 360). Less sporadic movie fans can take advantage of mail order dvd services like Netflix and Blockbuster Online which offer unlimited, 3 at a time, movie services for less than $20/month.

5. Shop at outlet centers during the week to find the best deals on clothing, accessories and shoes. Designer brands are still red hot among consumers but that doesn't mean you should have to push through crowds just to find them at great prices.

By shopping at outlet centers during the week you will run into 75% less traffic, have more selection to choose from (trucks typically deliver goods to stores during the week to restock after busy weekends) and you won't have a problem finding a parking spot closer to the storefronts. Stores may also offer weekday only incentives so be sure to check coupon books and in-store flyers before making any purchases.

6. Today's bogged down real estate market has practically handed over great deals on a silver platter. If you're in the market for a new or resale home, check to see how far mass transit options are from the homes. Most suburban towns offer train, bus and highway access to the closest major city and new home builders prefer to build communities within a few minutes of these locations.

7. While considering that new home be sure to consider the size of the home as well. Not only will you save money by purchasing a smaller home but you are more likely to find a larger backyard, amenities comparable to larger homes and a much more palatable monthly heating bill.

8. If you are looking for space AND amenities then you may want to consider newer townhouses which tend to range in sizes comparable to single family homes and they come with community amenities that you wouldn't ordinarily find in a single family home community. For example, The Grove at New Windsor offers a state of the art fitness center, tennis court, lounge and outdoor swimming pool. Sure beats spending $80/month just to drive to and from your local gym!

9. Are you already on a first name basis with every gas station clerk in town? You might want to replace your current gas guzzler with a more exciting, yet fuel efficient, car. The Mazda3 and Honda Civic both offer impressive gas mileage while including all the creature comforts typically found in bigger cars like premium sound and navigation systems, xenon headlights and iPod friendly aux inputs. The best part about these cars? You'll be able to afford them even if your job situation changes unexpectedly.

If the 22/29 mpg EPA ratings of the Mazda3 still aren't high enough then look into the smart fortwo passion coupe. You will trade speed, space and handling for better gas mileage (33 mpg/40 mpg to be exact) but at least you can point and laugh as you drive by the stiffs filling their fuel hungry monsters in the cold.

10. Purchase all of life's needs that you don't need right away through internet juggernauts like Amazon where you will be able to buy in bulk, combine shipping and often pay less than retail. Better yet, the government still hasn't figured out how to tax internet purchases so you might even save on the sales tax.

Unlike previous economic recessions, especially during the Great Depression, we have the internet to serve as alternative source of content/product delivery and as a remote connection to work. By trading our larger vehicles and homes for more efficient alternatives that still meet our needs we can not only lower the cost of maintaining those items but we can also promote a healthier lifestyle that doesn't involve suffocating debt loads and mind bending 2 hour commutes.
About the Author
Joshua Ferris is a NYC suburbs specialist covering the Orange County New York real estate market and has created a valuable resource for homebuyers considering the area including his indispensable Monroe New York real estate guide.
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