I spend a great deal of time studying at the public library. Since I’m keeping my thermostat at 58 degrees this winter to reduce my exorbitant heating costs, I find the tables at the library to be a much warmer substitute for my living room couch, where I would be buried under three layers of blankets and two cats, wearing wool gloves and a hat. It’s kind of difficult to really learn and internalize the difference between test reliability and validity when one’s teeth are chattering.
Another benefit of the public library is that I have access to all sorts of magazines and newspapers that I’m too frugal to actually subscribe to. Today, I took a look at Newsweek, the front cover of which shows a lonely highway stretching into the distance, along with the title: ‘The Road to Recession”.
One of the shorter articles describes how consumers can ‘survive’ a recession (assuming we are truly heading for one; there seems to be a fair amount of disagreement among the ‘experts’ on this question).
- Protect your job: in other words, this is not the time to tell your boss just how lame, ignorant, or ineffective he or she is. Instead, it’s time to act really busy---or, if you can stand it, actually get busy and do some work! The article suggests getting to work early and leaving late, possibly skipping lunch, to prove to the boss that you are indispensable. In my case, my boss rolls in around 9:30, so getting to work early would be a waste of my time. . . .
- Protect your portfolio: if you own any stocks, hold onto them (there are, of course, always exceptions to this advice), because at this point you will probably be selling low and later buying high, which is pretty much exactly the opposite of what successful investors do. My stock portfolio is tiny (the remnants of an investing group I joined many years ago) and I wouldn’t know how to sell even if I wanted to.
- Protect your pocketbook: ahhhh, this is the one I can relate to! Pay off debt (I’m trying, I’m trying!) and think about refinancing the house if you can get a better rate to reduce your monthly payments. This latter suggestion is something I’m toying with. My monthly mortgage payments make up between 50-60% of my net income (when my second job is included). That’s way too high. I either need to sell the house, or decrease the payments in some way.
- Protect your psyche: realize that recessions come, and recessions go. They are a normal part of the economic cycle, apparently. By paying down debt, considering ways to increase your income, and increasing savings, you can increase your emotional or psychological sense of security.
Regardless of the general state of the economy, these are all ideas that I’m either implementing already, or am considering as I try to change my habits and improve my chances of attaining financial independence.
By the way, Newsweek didn't see fit to include this article in its online version (although I did link to the article about our being 'on the road' to a recession). However, UK's The Guardian does have a similar article.