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Along with having a reputation as a tightwad next door, deadbeat, and a goal digger, I have a recession-proof reputation to live up to.
It’s a low bar that involves secondhand clothes, discounted food, and free home décor that I find tossed on suburb streets. If it’s in the gutter, it’s gotta be good! 😉
I didn’t know that my recession-proof living was cause for celebration until prices started to climb. I did notice giant leaps like when my neighbor’s house skyrocketed in value and less subtle ways with higher gas and grocery prices.
To date, I have yet to predict if were falling face-first into a recession or if this is just a temporary financial escalation. Either way, I’m cashing in my silent but harmless recession-proof reputation.
Manage & Measure
It pains me to say it again, like a toddler on a merry-go-round with no parental supervision, having a budget is how I leverage current financial incomings with possible outgoings.
My post-tax paychecks are more predictable than the stock market. Occasionally, I get an extra hour of Sunday, holiday, or the glorious overtime pay, but mostly the results are the same every month.
A constant is helpful in the shifting sands of inflation. Household bills and groceries are the categories that get the highest priority. There is no messing around with necessities.
I have two mandatory categories (personal bills and gas) and two optional (spending and restaurants).
When prices balloon in bills and gas, I pull from optional. Would I like new hiking boots and to refill my Starbucks addiction? Of course, but if I have to choose between hitchhiking to work because I ran out of fuel or being phoneless because I didn’t pay my bill, I’m going to choose the least embarrassing.
Shift to Thrift
On my Saturdays (currently, that means Mondays for the rest of the world. Rangers rarely get weekends off), I always get a dose of get-stuff-done-itis.
After breakfast and with extra coffee, I experience a drive to tackle tasks that have been lingering on my mind and my to-do list. Especially if I think I can do them with little time, I tackle tasks with a zest and zeal that would impress a kindergarten soccer team.
Today was such a day and I decluttered a gym bag. The bag was almost 20 years old and showing its age with white threads exposed on the bottom. Even bags go grey.
The last time I had a gym membership was before the pandemic and since then, I put a permanent pause on paid fitness, I figured it was time to move away from that identity with a quick and cleansing Mario Kondo session.
The bag contents were meager: swim goggles, pad, plastic water bottle, Kindle, and shoe inserts.
A goodie bag of gym champions.
The goggles, pad, and Kindle were restored somewhere more appropriate. The plastic water bottle went into the donation pile. All that was left was shoe inserts.
At first, I was going to throw them away because I have custom orthotics for my shoes. Fallen arches don’t fix themselves but custom orthotics do.
I set them aside and continued with other adulting fun (laundry). Then as I was doing mindless work while trying to be mindful, a thought appeared. I have a pair of flats that are too loose. I was going to buy inserts for them, wouldn’t it be neat if I could repurpose old inserts to fix my flats?
Minutes later, I was cutting and crafting myself into a free pair of inserts. Did I turn trash into treasure and save $11? You can bet your red, white, and blue fanny pack I did!
Just another addition to my recession-proof reputation.
Perspective: A Friend with Benefits
83% of my net worth is tied up in the market with retirement accounts and a brokerage account. They are weak like watered-down coffee when compared to their gilded glory of 6 months ago.
I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m not stressed either. These are long-term accounts with long-term goals that won’t be cashed in for the next couple decades. The last couple of years have been stellar for the market, but as with any crest, there are crashes. The best thing I can do is keep my eye on the horizon, baton down the hatches, and get ready for a wild ride. Hold the vomit.
It helps that I’ve trained my brain to see stock-market red as sale, sale, sale! Bargain prices if my budget can handle it.
Bar None, More Like Lowering Fun
A recession-proof reputation is hollow without free fun. My hobbies don’t require a down payment, subscription fees, or a deposit. Currently, my free favs are:
- Supporting my local library by borrowing books, movies
- Going for a walk/run in the neighborhood
- Trying not to slay my shed when I practice archery in my backyard
- Practicing napping
- Visiting with local or long-distance friends
- Volunteering at the animal shelter
- Working through 20 hours of citizen science on Zooniverse (this isn’t a fav, but it is free, and some mortals would consider it fun)
Perhaps it helps that I live in a medium-sized town with limited activities and amenities. There is less desire when less is offered.
I have a few side hustles that stimulate financial endeavors.
In 5 months, I’ve managed to accumulate almost $1,000 in non-paycheck pay. My biggest hitter is UserTesting, followed by credit card churning and rewards, and bunting in a few bucks is receipt reward apps.
I choose hustles that are low on effort because I’m still under the
delusional impression that my park ranger pay will satisfy my financial foundation. I’m unwilling to sacrifice more free time for better-paying side hustles because I still value free time more than paid time.
At least for now; change is the only constant.
Like all mammals, I started as a baby. Weak, covered in goo, and screaming at a human who just wanted a hug. I threw up, grew up, and made mostly good choices, but plenty of poor choices too.
As I settled into living a life where low pay is the hardest part of my profession, I learned to live lean (or barren, dealer’s choice).
My choices became habits that turned into a lifestyle. Recession-proof living has paid dividends during this inflation staycation. The burps and gurgles of prices have been noticed but not fretted. I was already living large with little before, that’s the power of a well-built financial foundation.