Will your family be prepared if the economy takes a turn for the worse?

Recession Proof Your Family Finances

by Diane Schmidt


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While the economy may seem OK today, it is wise to be prepared for trouble. Here are some ideas to make surviving a tough economy as painless as possible.

Tip #1: Cut back on the extras (and make some money)

Every family has those little extras that add up quickly. I decided to go through my bills and see what we could cut. Here is what I came up with:

  • It's nice to have access to movies and special programs on HBO, but is it worth $10+ a month?
  • One of my favorite things to do is go to the bookstore and look at the new books. I know the library is free, but my library generally doesn't have the new books in stock. So what did I decide to do? I buy the books (with a coupon) and then take very good care of it and resell on half.com! So instead of the book gathering dust in my bookshelf, I get back most of the cash I spent.
  • Whether it's Pizza Hut, McDonald's or Quizno's, my family loves eating out. But I know it's hurting the budget. So we aim to limit it to two times a week. We love to grill chicken and hot dogs. That's a good substitute for a greasy take-out food!
  • When I received my XM radio for Christmas two years ago, I was so excited and listened to it all the time. Then a few months ago, I realized I wasn't listening to it anymore. I cancelled it, saving $7.48 a month!
  • To save on gasoline, I combine errands and really try not to run the air conditioner, because it eats up so much gasoline. Also, we have a membership at Costco and their gasoline is always cheaper than other places.
  • My local PTA has a resale event twice a year for baby and children's toys, clothing and more. I've rented a table twice and made $250+. Even though that might not sound like a lot of money, it was great to get rid of my son's too-small clothing and toys he had outgrown. It's a win-win situation. I make money and declutter the house!

Tip #2: Become a big time bargain shopper

  • Why pay full price when you can get something for 75% off or more? Bargain shopping can take some effort, but it's well worth it!
  • Everyone who knows me, knows I am a Target addict. Why? Because they have the best stuff on clearance. Especially when I'm looking to make a big purchase, I scout out the local Targets and see who has the item on clearance. And then I wait for the price to drop to 75% off. I also buy grocery items at Target. They tend to be cheaper than the local grocery stores.
  • After holidays, I shop stores clearance for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Back to School and Halloween. I'm amazed at the great stuff I get for 75% off or more. The only bummer is having to wait for a year to use the items!


  • For coupons, I have an easy system. I only clip the coupons I'm going to use or ones that I can trade online. I keep them in a three-ring binder with baseball card pages to hold the coupons. I usually make a grocery list once a week and match coupons to sales. I also save coupons for haircuts, pizza, eating out, etc.
  • Don't forget rebates and money back guarantee offers. When a new product comes out, many companies will offer a "try me free" deal on the item. You can find forms online and in coupon inserts.
  • I regularly search eBay for items. Sometimes you'll find the perfect deal and other times you need to watch out for inflated shipping charges.
  • I shop online at stores that offer free shipping. One of my favorites is Amazon. And be sure to shop through web sites like Mypoints.com or upromise.com and earn back rewards (and cash) on all your purchases.

Happy bargain shopping (and saving!)

Reviewed June 2017


Take the Next Step:

  • Don't allow debt to prevent you from providing for your family the way you would like. Start taking the steps to get out of debt today so you can give your family a better tomorrow.
  • Once you trim your family's budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Discover dozens of additional ways to make extra cash by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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