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Benefits to the recession

By on May 17, 2009

photo by Mark Strozier

Money doesn’t buy happiness. If you take a look around, you’ll discover that there are joyful benefits to the recession. Not simply monetary opportunities in real estate, airfare, cheap stocks or from businesses struggling and discounting prices or liquidating and going under but in your personal life. It’s an involuntary pause in your pursuit of happiness. It gives you much needed time to reflect, create new goals, and reprioritize your life. While you still need money to pay your bills, you’ve probably realized there’s a lot to be thankful for, too. What benefits have you seen?
Here are a few silver linings.

FAMILY TIME: Many families are staying home more often. They’re cooking more meals at home and eating together, spending less money on entertainment, and getting back to the basics of sharing quality time. According to NPD Group, a consumer and retail market-research company, board-game purchases climbed 6 percent in 2008, reaching $794 million in sales in the United States. Cutting back is boosting appreciation for many things that were previously taken for granted. This isn’t deprivation. This is the good life.

COMMUNITY FOCUS: Whenever you go through a tough time, it opens your eyes to others who have it worse. Low times encourage people to give more to others. It might be through volunteering or donations. One reader, Melody in Seattle, shares: “This economy is making me really grateful for what I have. I have also become more giving. This year, we participated in two giving trees (school and work) to share with those less fortunate, and I also signed up to make donations next year directly out of my paycheck. Since we have been blessed, especially in these times, it seems especially important to share.” Giving doesn’t have to be a charitable donation. You might reach out to neighbors more and share tools, garden harvests or help out — you know, the way it used to be before people decided that high fences made good neighbors.

NEW SKILLS: While many have lost their jobs, it has become an opportunity to learn new skills or leave a job they weren’t happy with. Many people are learning to do more repairs and home improvements on their own, too. For those working in industries that are taking a hit, they’re bartering their skills.

SAYING NO: It has never been easier to just say no to all the things that get you to part with your time and money. Friends and family are more compassionate about your budget. Another reader, Heather in Idaho, shares: “Suddenly, I have friends who are starting to cut back and join me on some of my frugal ventures. Not that I need to have that validation but it is kind of nice not to be the constant ‘oddball’ in trying to conserve and save.”

Can’t attend that wedding? They understand. Want to pare down on gift giving during the holidays? Now is the time to bring it up. You have a legitimate reason for saying no. Use it to your advantage, and pare down on any activities that have been bogging you down. It’s the perfect time to get your family on board with a financial game plan, too.

LEAN AND GREEN: When you have less money, you are forced to consume less. You’ll naturally create less waste, conserve energy, and make things last longer. Why buy new when you can make do with what you have, borrow, rent, buy used or make it yourself? Times are turning. It’s a good thing.

One Comment

  1. Sonny

    5/18/2009 at 10:54 am

    Another benefit of the recession has been that the people who have not been laid off (or adversely affected) are also cutting back and saving money. This has lead to higher saving rates among Americans and could imply when the economy does recover, Americans will be able to invest or pay off excessive debt. A very positive trend that will hopefully continue.

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