How to Survive Financial Hardship - Some Household Tips

Save Money by Riding a Bike!
Save Money by Riding a Bike!

Lighten the Economic Gloom

The effects of the downturn may still be lingering but every cloud has a silver lining so lets see how to beat the financial blues.

Here are some simple tips to lift you and your loved ones and shine a light into the economic gloom. So, if you are ready to beat the downturn, then lets going!

1. Get Rid of 'Value Added'

What do I mean by Value Added? Take water for example. In the good old days we drank plain water from a well, a faucet or a tap. Now we've moved on to the bottled stuff. It is not unusual to drink French water in New York or London. We also drink bottled water with added sparkle (CO2) or with flavour added. In reality unlimited quantities of what we happily pay a dollar or more per bottle is available for nothing from the kitchen tap.

Retailers 'add value' by putting water in a plastic bottle and shipping it across the globe
Retailers 'add value' by putting water in a plastic bottle and shipping it across the globe

The marketing people have 'added value' to plain water. In other words they've created a brand, advertised it, put it in a bottle, shipped it around the world, and added a generous profit for themselves in the process.

The same thing happens with designer clothes. A $20 pair of jeans you might buy from WalMart becomes $200 with the right label.

So what am I saying here? Well if you need to cut back on your spending then start with the 'value added' stuff. Go back to tap water.

Don't buy expensive labels where supermarket labels will do. Buy supermarket brands in place of 'big name' brands.

Cut back on all those vitamin pills and supplements and just eat healthy food containing the vitamins you actually need. Cut out the chips, crisps and other junk food and start buying fresh fruit and veg.

2. Go For Home Made

Home made bread smells delicious!
Home made bread smells delicious!

Start making stuff at home. Bake your own bread and fill your home with a lovely aroma. Make jam. Start home baking. Why not make your own clothes.

Find that dusty old sewing machine in the garage or dig out the neglected knitting needles and some old wool.

If its legal where you live then brew your own beer or make home-made wine. Some of you are probably way ahead of me and already have a still in the attic or the old shed out the back.

Of course, I don't recommend making your own 'Moonshine' both because where I live it's illegal and also you can seriously damage your health if you don't get the chemistry right!

Do It Yourself Lingerie

Why not combine this activity with tip no. 2 and produce home-made lingerie and sexy underwear?

Beware, however that although knitted knickers and bra may be a real novelty they can also be itchy!

Home made underwear
Home made underwear

3. Make Your Own Entertainment

No more paying hundreds of dollars for a football game or a rock gig. Why not turn your DVD player to full volume and get a crowd of friends around to enjoy a 'live' performance by a great band?

Similarly, watch the ball game on TV and pass the home made beer and hot dogs around at half time time.

Failing that you can always resort to old-fashioned parlour games like 'Consequences' or 'Charades'. Or what about a family talent show?

"Is there another alternative?", I hear you ask in desparation.

Well try to think of something you and your partner can do alone together that involves some invigorating exercise and is totally free. Any ideas? No not decorating the bedroom (You need to buy paint and brushes!)

Got it now? They do say the best things in life are free. Should you get bored making out in the altogether then you can always spice it up with some sexy underwear (but no expensive fancy labels!).

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Can you really afford to borrow for a holiday?
Can you really afford to borrow for a holiday?

5. Are There Any 'Good' Loans?

An obvious thing to do at the start of a recession is to get rid of as much debt as possible. If you are spending beyond your means then cut your spending immediately.

Try to consolidate all your debt into a single loan with the lowest possible interest.

Stop using high interest credit cards and if you can't stop using them then pay off the balance, cut them up into pieces and close the accounts. Make sure all your future borrowing is limited to 'Good Loans'.

So what is a Good Loan and for that matter Good Debt? Well if you borrow money in order to invest it wisely to make more money then this good, sensible debt. Home loans in the past have been an example of this.

While property prices are rising then borrowing money to buy a house makes good sense as long as you can afford the repayments and are prepared for future interest rate rises.

Another example of a good loan would be borrowing money to insulate your home in order to reduce your energy costs or investing in a wind generator or solar energy.

So what would be an example of a Bad Loan or Bad Credit? The classic would be borrowing for a holiday in the sun because once you return home and shake the sand from your suitcase you have nothing left from the loan appart from a sun tan.

If you bought a new car, although the car continues to have value, that value depreciates rapidly as the car ages. It is therefore much better to buy an older car as the depreciation in value is much less.

A modern wood burning stove
A modern wood burning stove

6. Start Burning Wood!

The final tip involves heating. The first thing you should do in a downturn is look at your outgoings and one of the biggest financial drains these days is energy and in particular heating costs.

If you don't already do so then consider burning wood in a modern woodstove. Wood is carbon neutral, often free and certainly much cheaper than natural gas or oil. For more on this check out the following:

Credit Crunch, Energy Crisis and 10 Reasons to Burn Wood

How to Manage a Wood Burning Stove

Finally, remember that an economic dowturn isn't all bad. It presents a first-class opportunity to learn new skills, relearn old ones, learn about managing our finances better and rediscovering good, old fashioned home entertainment.

So what are you waiting for? Get loving, knitting, baking, brewing and hence saving money!

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Comments 20 comments

Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

fun advice. thanks.


pgrundy 7 years ago

Great hub! We installed a multi-fuel pellet stove a little over a week ago and we love it. We looked at lots of wood stoves, but even though pellets (or corn, or fruit pits) do have to be purchased, they a very carbon-neutral and energy efficient, and we don't have to be always scrounging for free wood--tough in the city, especially when everyone else is leaning towards wood now too. Last year we spent about $2800 on oil heat for the winter. This year, including the cost of the stove, we're looking at around $2000 for the winter. After this year, it's just the cost of pellets. If we can find a source for fruit pits (we do live in the northern fruit belt of the US), we'll be looking at a few hundred dollars per winter with the pellet stove versus $2800 for winter with oil.

The other stuff we've been doing for awhile. It's getting scary alright, but we grew a lot of food this year. I filled our freezer and canned the rest. If you buy staples--rice, flour, cornmeal--and use your own homegrown veggies, that will feed you right there and cheaply.

It can be done. Sometimes hard times bring out the best in people.


Vivenda profile image

Vivenda 7 years ago from UK (South Coast)

Hmm - where did you leave the paintbrushes?


WayneBass 7 years ago from Aurora

Good advice.


diana1000 profile image

diana1000 7 years ago from Philippines

Rik some really good advice.

Using tap water I am not so sure about as we are all trying to save maybe councils are as well. However I dont buy bottled water but do boil and bottle my own. It works out far cheaper and stops the headache of all those plastic bottles to get rid of.

Getting friends together for the big game around a telly. Really this is far better than going off to a game and it includes the whole families getting together.

We all live in a hurry up and wait society and sadly it means very little family time so getting a good board game and including everyone in the game with patience for the younger ones brings a family far closer together instead of them all having money in their pockets and going their separate ways.

Rik all your advice is good and sound thanks for sharing. Di


Tottie profile image

Tottie 7 years ago from Australia , or China, or South Korea.

Some good fun ideas here too. I think it will make us think and lok again at the way we have been living in recent times. Recession will be a time for reflection.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

It's time to baton down the hatches, and look out the thermal vests! Winter (and recession!) are just beginning to bite here in the UK. Good advice Rik. We've lived in a label driven culture for far too long and we need to lose the notion that unless something is heavily advertised, it actually isn't any good!


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Glad you enjoyed Benson.

Pam G - glad you got your stove installed OK - I remember you mentioning it before - our woodburner is being fitted early next month. Sounds like you are pretty self-sufficient and recession-proofed already - well done!

Vivenda - I think you missed the point. Forget the paint brushes and think of something else!


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Glad you found this useful Wayne.

Diana - Bottling your own water sounds a great idea. Yes I think that families need to spend more time together. In the UK many families no longer even share a meal.

Tottie - Yes I agree - times of hardship often bring people together. My Mother admitted to me that one of the happiest and most fulfilling times in her life was when she was nursing the wounded (both German and allied troops) during the Second World War.


John Cash profile image

John Cash 7 years ago from United Kingdom of Manchester

excellent hub, thanks.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Amanda - Yes I agree totally. Obviously people have the right to choose products but it concerns me people who can't afford 'labels' buy them because of peer pressure.

John - Glad you enjoyed!


robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey

Good advice Rik and I'm with you on the water, especially. Not only is tap water cheaper, but it doesn't fill up oceans and landfills with tons of non-biodegradable plastic bottles. Have you seen those dreadful pix of seabirds choking on plastic?


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Robie - Good point about the plastic and wildlife.

Incidentally just read your Hub on Sarah Palin - I picked up the Wonder Woman theme in a hub of mine. I thought your piece was very balanced - While I don't like her politics and it would be a nightmare to have her as commander in chief, there is a lot to admire in her rapid rise to power.

Anyway, most of us in Europe are pleased with your choice of a new president! I don't think Sarah and John would have gone down well on the world stage!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I like your Hub because it's optimistic.  Getting back to basics today, unfortunately, is something triggered by the fear of recession.  I say unfortunately because we should always be at the basics to begin with.  When we are, the world is better.  So there's a light here.  Just get to the basics and make your contribution to eliminating silly and destructive stuff.

About water in plastic bottles.  There's no need for that, unless you are going to be dead from thirst on a road trip and you didn't set out prepared.  So buy that 89-cent bottle of WalMart water and keep yourself alive if you have to.  Home water filters are worth it if your tap water isn't good or palatable.  Here, we have 99.9 percent uncontaminated city water, but I hate the taste.  So I have a filter in my refrigerator and also one on my tap on the kitchen sink.  And plenty of containers to take that water with me.  I will buy bottled water only if I am going to die from thirst because I wasn't prepared.

Awesome Hub.  Also awesome, your last comment about America's decision to elect Obama.  It does matter, very much, that the world outside the US supports this choice.  America isn't everything, although it seems to be so in its own eyes at times.  It's a small world after all, and I see the acceptance of Obama around the world as a good omen for the future of us all.

Oh yeah, and thumbs up!


robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey

Hi Rik--thanks for your nice c omments about the Sarah Palin piece. Actually, I've just written another one about Sarah Palin and moose LOL. I too think she would have been a disaster as VP but I also think she is more than just a bimbo ex beauty queen as per much of the American press. Actually I think she is quite shrewd and bears watchihng. Like the rest of the world I am thrilled with the Obama win. I can't wait until his hand is on the tillar--God knows where all the Bushies have disappeared to now that the sea has gotten rough.


Jerry G2 profile image

Jerry G2 7 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

Fantastic hub, Rik! I spent a few years in Alaska, (but voted for Obama, lol) and God willing will be back soon, but up there I loved it. Had a great wood burning stove, learned to brew my own beer, hike through the wilderness at 40 below zero, dumpster dive, and there was even a "stone age club" where you could learn to make a bow and arrows from nothing: even chipping the arrowheads with rock on rock. Great times and bonding moments, and just having skills I believe makes a person more confident and able to weather the rough spots.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Hi Robie - enjoyed your Sarah/Moose Hub.

Talking of Obama, there is an insane Hub around at the moment proclaiming Obama as the anti-Christ. Although I'm not a US citizen it makes me really mad. Particulary as it has such a high hub score. Anyway, I've flagged it.

The funniest bit is a video linking Obama's name with 666. It works with my name too! One of the author's arguments is that at a time of crisis Obama's daughter's want a puppy. How does this make him the anti-Christ?


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Jerry G2

Alaska sounds really interesting - would love to visit there one day - the nearest thing in Europe would be the Nordic countries beyond the Arctic circle (Lapland).


esllr profile image

esllr 7 years ago

Good advice! I'll spread ot along.


Rik Ravado profile image

Rik Ravado 7 years ago from England Author

Glad you found it helpful esllr!

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