Recession Proofing

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A while back Achali made some comments about being depression- and recession-proof -- living within or better yet, below your means so that you don't really feel the brunt of the economic downturn. I crunched numbers until I felt I couldn't crunch anymore, yet, I couldn't figure out more ways to tighten things up. Like Achali, I wasn't shelling out money for anything but the essentials. I watched everything I wanted to watch on the Internet; I didn't eat out; and I cut back on my magazine (addiction) buying substantially.

Eventually, I just started being open with my friends and family about my budget woes. With their help, I found out that there was room for me to even trim down what I spent on the ESSENTIALS -- food, transportation, etc. So, I've been surveying everyone that I can, in hopes of finding even more ways. The goal is for this low-budget way of life to be sustainable, notwithstanding fluctuating gas prices, workweek cuts and all the other things that come part and parcel with a recession. If you've come up with some good ways -- even if you think it just suits your budget -- please share! You never know how it can help.

Here are some things I came up with:

1. Downgrade. I switched my auto insurance coverage from full coverage to limited liability coverage a while back to cut expenses, and last summer, I called to see if there was a lower rate of coverage that they could offer me (they never offer you the lowest rate initially). I always thought that limited liability was ... limited. But come to find out, it covers just about everything that full coverage would cover -- including, for instance, if someone hit me on the road and then just drove away -- but just at a lower rate. So instead of being covered for $250,000 worth of damages (for example), it's only $50,000 (for example). When I went down from full coverage to limited liability coverage it took $110 off my monthly bill. Then when I went down even more to $25,000 worth of coverage, I went down from $164 a month to $79. Amen.

2. Family plan. I resisted for a while ... I didn't want to be confined ... committed ... tied down ... but I eventually joined my brother's family cell phone plan. So, my phone bill went from $50 to $10 (and for some reason he won't let me pay the $10).

3. Negotiation. I was previously paying $69 for high-speed Internet service with Comcast. So, I called them and told them that they'd better give me the promotional rate that they give all new customers -- $19.99 for high-speed internet for 6 months ... or else.

4. Breaking bread. My good friend had an idea that we start cooking for each other. So, she would cook something and it would last for 2 to 3 days, and I'd do the same for her. I didn't think it would make a difference, but it did. Instead of cooking approx. 5 meals a week I'm only cooking 3 -- but I'm still spending the same amount for groceries and not running out of the core items, like cooking oil, as fast.

5. Shopping. I buy generic EVERYTHING (except for maple syrup. I just can't. But the generic versions of Cinnamon Toast Crunch are grrrrreat.)