Friday, July 10, 2009

The upside to the economic downturn...

Yesterday I picked up a copy of the August issue of Real Simple and I really loved the article "anything for a buck" by Julie Rottenberg. It details how before the economic crisis, the author used to deal with scrutiny for her penny-pinching ways but now that the economy is in a constant downturn, her frugality is much more accepted. I like how she finds the silver lining to our economic woes through its effects on our society. I too have always thought that, while it's not a good thing that people are losing their jobs left and right, it has spurred some positive social changes. Being spendy is no longer the popular thing to do, extravagence is seen as wasteful, and conservation is back in a big way. I've never been much for extravagence anyway, and I think that this current economic climate has forced us as a society to question our values. Are things really that important? Do we really need the latest this-or-that, especially if it won't be popular in two months anyway? Studies have already showed that recessions are better for people's health by reducing work hours and increasing healthy habits like cooking at home, and maybe they're better for our wallets and bank accounts in the long run as well. While I naturally would love for the economy to pick up a little (so, ahem, the government will stop trying to cut my college grants) I also hope that we can come out of this a little financially smarter.

I know I have some very intelligent and thoughtful readers out there, so I'd love to know what you all think of this. What positive effects have you seen from the economic downturn?

PS: Have a great weekend everyone! And if I haven't commented on your blog lately, be patient. I'm still catching up on all the reading I missed last week :)

Image by Howard Sokol via


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with a lot of the points you made; however, one of the most negative things about the downturn is not necessarily less work but NO work. My boyfriend can't find a job in his field in the city we moved to for me to finish my degree, so he went back to school, which is fine, but now that his school is wrapping up he NEEDS to find a job or else will be forced to move somewhere else where there is jobs.

    I agree that we shouldn't focus so much on materialistic things, we should ABSOLUTELY cook more at home etc. BUT at the same time, not having money or job is VERY stressful, which can be bad for people's house. Also, what about all the restaurants? If every one ALWAYS cooked at home, the restaurant owners (and their families) would be out of luck.

    I think with EVERYTHING in life, North America needs to work on finding more of a balance. It's not ALL or NOTHING. It's middle-ground. Go out to dinner once or twice a week IF you can afford it, but don't overspend. Buy a house with one less bedroom rather than digging yourself into deeper debt by getting a larger one. Those sorts of things. I truly hope when we come out of this crisis, it will be smarter and we will start to make more balanced choices, but I don't know if that will be the case..

  2. Amber- I totally agree with what you said. There's nothing good about not being able to find a job. A lot of my friends are in that situation, and it sucks. Even as a student, I've lost thousands of dollars in college funding because of budget cuts. I'm not saying that people aren't struggling. I'm also not saying that people should be cheapskates and never eat out or never buy anything fun. What I'm saying is that I hope our economic downturn will put things in perspective, so that we realize how unbalanced we were before. I know people who used to put things on credit cards like it was free money, and they're one of the reasons we have these problems today. I don't know if the recession will really bring things into focus for people, but I guess we can always hope, right? At least in my experience, people are more likely to accept that saving money does not make one a cheapskate, and that's progress to me.

    Thanks for your comment :)


  3. I also thinkn that this reccession may be good for our brains.Even though this econamy may not be the best thing for our wallets, I think it's pretty helpful for our minds.

    I too have always been a small spender and now some of my more big spending friends ask for my help on not spending 100 bucks evertime they go shopping. Before they thought it was stupid! Oh how the times change!

  4. I think the recession has made me re-think my spending habits for sure. I have re-asses my material belongings and whether or not I really need more. However, I am a student that is having difficultly finding a job, so with that fiscal knowledge has come great stress. So far I have applied for fifteen jobs to no avail. I am hoping that I can get a job once school starts up again because if not I will be relying on student loans to buy my groceries which is something I never wanted to do.

  5. We definitely eat out less, and I buy less in clothing and such. We came to the realization that in 2 years, we bought a new car, a used car, our first house, lots of clothes, we rescued a dog, and we have spent God knows how much on eating out and Starbucks, but are we any happier for it? We have cut back tremendously and continue to, and I am putting more towards savings and debt. After all, we may not have lost our jobs so far, but nothing is guaranteed. Plus, it makes me feel sick to know we may be doing ok, while others are homeless or starving....