Five Sites That Will Help You Recession-Proof Your Life

Although we are not technically in a recession, it’s starting to feel like one. As gas prices and unemployment continue to rise, we’ve rounded up a collection of useful advice for the current period of economic austerity.

Consumer Reports offers a lot of valuable advice in their recent piece, Spend Less on Everything. Some suggestions: Use shopping bots and online coupon sites to find the best deals, consider using VoIP, and check Consumer Reports’s website for advice on insurance, electronics, and cars before purchasing them.

Some broader, common sense tips come from Survive a Recession: making sure you don’t get fired, having or building an emergency fund, trying to eliminate debt, living frugally, and pursuing additional means of income.

The Simple Dollar lists Forty Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Spending, including insulating your hot water heater, reviewing and reducing your subscriptions, and starting a garden.

Although we wrote about this in 2006, it’s just as valuable today: Free Money Finance gathers 301 of its money-saving tips, including guidance on choosing car insurance, cutting your own hair, and saving money on babysitting, into one cornucopia of frugality here.

For even more useful advice, check out Consumer Reports’s comprehensive recession guide: Smart Moves for Tight Times

Lastly, we would advise against just throwing away bones with plenty of meat still on them. Instead, take them home, throw them in a pot, add some broth, a potato—baby, you’ve got a stew going!


Edit Your Comment

  1. MissTicklebritches says:

    I keep recommending this site to friends b/c it’s so useful! Please keep up the great work!

  2. strangeffect says:

    Now I’ve got myself a stew going.

  3. bohemian says:

    When you have exhausted all of these money saving strategies, illegally immigrate to Europe and steal someone’s identity.

  4. mpacuk says:

    R. I. P. Arrested Development.

    Maybe we should all go to Burger King. It’s a wonderful restaurant!

  5. ltlbbynthn says:

    @bohemian: Yo seriously! I already live so damn frugally, where else is there to cut back?

  6. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Another tip is to use the library. Besides internet, the library offers books, magazines, and newspapers.

  7. Chicagobama says:

    These are all great tips, but nothing trumps the wisdom of Carl Weathers: “Let me tell you a little story about acting. I was doing this Showtime movie-Hot Ice with Anne Archer-never once touched my per diem. I’d go to Craft Service, get some raw veggies, bacon, Cup-A-Soup – baby, I got a stew going!”

  8. I buy all my cars at police auction.

  9. Scoobatz says:

    Awesome. A bunch of sites that provide painfully obvious, common sense solutions to saving money. I would also recommend that given the choice of buying two identical items, select the one that costs less money.

  10. Parapraxis says:


    Did you know, if you finish a soda, they’ll give you a refill for free?

  11. howie_in_az says:

    @Parapraxis: If you ask nicely, restaurants will pour some soda into your hands for a nickel.

  12. jscott73 says:

    Doesn’t all this advice make any looming recession a sure bet? Not to mention making it more severe.

    I follow all the advice and live very frugally but the way our economy is setup right now we do need those consumers out and about stimulating away…

  13. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Scoobatz: The idea that you’re so smart that any kind of offerring of advice is wasted must be very comforting.

    I, for one, look forward to insulating my water heater. With a heavy coat, hat, and with some properly applied tape, sunglasses and a cigarette.

  14. MrJames says:

    I’m not saying we should all go into debt (more so) but won’t all of us not shopping make the economy worse?

  15. Carl Weathers takes this post from an A to an A++

  16. jvandub says:

    Excellent use of Carl Weathers in this story. Bravo consumerist!

  17. Adam Rock says:

    [] gives some good advice.

  18. Mr. Guy says:

    LOLZ @ carl weathers!!

  19. MrEvil says:

    I buy my cars at police auction too.

    Avoid name brand everything and prepared foods and you’ll save more even then.

  20. jscott73 says:

    Ff you don’t need it don’t buy it, if it’s over $50 buy it used off craigslist, and if you bought it and find you don’t need it sell it.

    I’ve paid off over $13k in debt this year following that advice.

  21. Ein2015 says:

    Potatoes! Boil ’em, Mash ’em, Stick ’em in a STEW!

  22. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Eat at home. Seriously. It’s almost always cheaper, healthier and better.

    Even inviting in a friend or two to share your meal is still usually cheaper than buying a decent dinner out for yourself.

    If you can’t cook, learn. There’s nothing more pitiful than not being able to take care of your own basic needs.

    And… yes, it’s June, and most people are thinking of the beach; but now is a good time to Christmas shop or to make things for the holidays/birthdays/etc. Shopping for gifts from a written list year ’round really saves and results in some cool gifts.

    Between antiquing, yard sales, the thrift store and homemade, we’re most of the way through our annual gift list already. Several people are getting first editions of their favorite books, others are getting scarves knit with silk or wool yarn, antique dishes, a doll from the 1890’s, and silver candlesticks. The kids in the family are getting wooden treehouses for their dolls.

  23. ab12 says:

    Wow, Carl Weathers…he’s full of stuff like that. +10pts to Consumerist for the awesome reference.

  24. floyderdc says:

    I agree, I hate these things. They run stories like this all the time on CNN. If you look anything like Dr. Phil we could make millions writing books with your advice and stuff like

    Buy Used
    Recycle Old Teabag
    Newspapers Make Great Toliet Paper

  25. battra92 says:

    @MrJames: Well, the free market generally goes in cycles like this. People will spend less on some things to pay for increases in others or as suggested above find ways of saving money.

    My answer is usually to find another income first if you can but trimming fat, even in the good times, is what’s best.

    What I’m finding with my friends and family though is they aren’t cutting back the cable channels (which I estimated would save $21 a month) but instead are buying hamburger or canned tuna instead of steak. So no matter what you do personally, it’s more up to the global economy at large.

  26. floyderdc says:

    ignore my typing errors grrr

  27. Parting says:

    @floyderdc: He, he. Actually, newspapers WERE used as toilet paper in some parts of USSR in the past. Must have been terribly unpleasant.

  28. MerylBurbank says:

    My kid’s doll doesn’t even have a backyard!

  29. Kaisum says:

    That Arrested Development reference (as well as picture) is awesome.

  30. Jon Parker says:

    Am I the only one who laughed at “make sure you don’t get fired”?

  31. Pro-Pain says:

    I stopped buying everything. Really. I buy the absolute minimum now and am amazed @ how much money I saving. Next month I’ll be out of debt entirely. Screw the economy FTW!

  32. SuffolkHouse says:


    “…and you’ve got yourself a stew!”

  33. TangDrinker says:

    @Victo: When I was over there in the early 90’s, it was more like math paper (that type you have in grade school – sort of shiny, kinda dull beige?). Not pleasant.

  34. TwoScoopsRice says:

    With most of our goods either shipped or flown at least 2,500 miles before they hit our store shelves, we try to practice a mix of bulk and from-the-source shopping to tame costs. That means getting the 36-roll bundles of TP and watching the sales at Costco, yet also hitting the farmers’ markets once or twice a week for produce on the way to the office.

  35. I think the simple dollar is wayyyyyyyyyyyy overrated. i read it for a good year and still am subscribed but its overrated, too much sh*t about him and how hes successful because of washing zip lock bags or being cheap on gifts. Its unrealistic for an urban dweller

  36. Youthier says:

    Get bumped from a flight. Apparently, they give you $300 if you get bumped. It’s this crazy loophole in the system that the wrong guy discovered. Guess where I won’t be going?

  37. spinachdip says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Now wait a minute. This is just purely a social call. You know, just two adults getting a stew on, man.

  38. Alex Chasick says:

    @Youthier: Damn, I forgot about that one. I’ll make sure to list it in the next roundup, along with getting free refills at BK.

  39. TheNerd says:

    Wait. If we’re all trying to spend even less, and pursue even more income, where is this income going to come from? How can people make more money if others are trying not to spend theirs?

  40. There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going.

  41. grandzu says:

    You gotta squeeze every penny.
    I got a tux cheap cause Roy Cohn died in it.
    A fancy yacht is a bargain cause it smells like cat pee.
    And all my beautiful women used to be men.
    Thanks Chuck Garabedian!

  42. timmus says:

    How can people make more money if others are trying not to spend theirs?

    Cultivate clients outside the US; develop a web business that appeals to folks in Europe and Asia. There is that theory that the global market is interlinked with the US, but it’s safe to say that it’s only by different degrees.

  43. nequam says:

    I never buy name brand cars!

  44. geoffhazel says:

    If I cut my own hair it would look like I got my head caught in a lawnmower.

    I’m not giving up my every-8-weeks haircut!

    I already get my books from the library, great way to save money

  45. Juggernaut says:

    1. Go to Mexico
    2. Re-enter US illegally as a Mexican
    3. Free Benefits
    5. Profit?

  46. gameraboy says:

    Technically it’s a water heater, not a hot water heater. You wouldn’t be heating hot water, it’s already hot, savvy?

  47. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @nequam: ROFL.

    @geoffhazel: But you have to pay those library fines sometime.

    @TheNerd: You might be interested in something called the “broken window fallacy.” Look it up on Google. Basically the point is that the more money people keep, the more they accumulate. Not really rocket science, wouldn’t you say? But it seems to be less than obvious to those who think destructive economic policies accomplish anything, much less “energize the economy.”

  48. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @gameraboy: Don’t be so hasty. Compare: “That one is a hot water heater because it’s been sitting in the sun. That other one is a cold water heater because it’s been sitting under the warehouse A/C.”

    OK, enough didacticism for one go :)

  49. majortom1029 says:

    I second the library thing. we even have blu-ray movies, free wifi internet also. (plus more people using the library gives me job security).

  50. KlausKinsky says:

    @Jon Parker: no, you aren’t the only one who laughed at “don’t get fired” lol!

    These things read like “Hints from Heloise”… duh!

  51. James Sugrue says:

    I only poop at work, not only do I get paid, but I save a ton of money on toilet paper!

  52. BScrivner says:

    Pigeons are easy to catch and eat, as are feral cats.

    Don’t forget to sell any diamonds you find while digging for spare change in the couch.

  53. Parapraxis says:


    A ride to the airport on a shuttle van is only 12 dollars! What a bargain! Who would you rather take a taxi?

  54. corporatedrone says:

    @krewl: thank you for making my day.

  55. Orv says:

    @Captain_Collide: Do you have any tips for shopping at police auctions? I’ve often thought about going to one, but I was always afraid of getting stuck paying good money for a car that didn’t run.

  56. Rock_Strongo says:

    @grandzu: that’s great. fully advice to live by. Say it with me now… SQUEEZE EVERY PENNY, SQUEEZE EVERY PENNY!

  57. stands2reason says:

    “Spend less on everything”

    So what do you do when a positive feedback of under- consumption is causing cyclical fall in the economy? You encourage them to spend less. Surely that can’t be a good idea for theeconomy.

  58. reznicek111 says:

    @Victo: Let’s forget the trusty old Sears Mail Order catalog in the outhouse!