Megann  Willson

Megann Willson

Real Estate Agent

HomeLife/Realty One Ltd., Brokerage

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How to Come Up Roses During a Recession

The dreaded “R-word”. (And its friends, downturn, slowdown, and depression). All of these economic conditions will have an impact on your personal finances. But are the results totally out of your hands? It seems these days the economic news is generally bleak, and the pundits are full of doom and gloom. Most of us are not independently wealthy, with unlimited resources. So how can we keep our chins up and find a silver lining in this cloudy fiscal atmosphere?

First of all, as grandmother used to say, “at least we have our health”. (Yes, I admit, some people do not, and I do not in any way want to make light of that). This is a time to preserve health, both physical and emotional. Good health is paramount if we are to deal well with whatever life hands us over the next few months. However, if you’ve been reading this blog, you may also have read my admonition to cut unnecessary spending. What about your gym membership? To cut, or not to cut? The answer to that is, it depends. Do you use it? If not, now is most definitely time to let it go. If so, what role does your gym time fulfil for you? Camaraderie? You need that. Cardiovascular fitness? You need that. Keeping those endorphins up? You definitely are going to need that. Still, if push comes to shove and you aren’t going to make your mortgage payment, or pay for heat, or put food on the table, the gym is secondary. You’ll need to find a substitute. Here are some to consider:

  • Community centres – throughout the City of Toronto, there are quite a number of community centres that offer free classes or programming
  • The great outdoors – walking, running, climbing, cycling, stretching – all of these are possible in the open air, and if you co-opt (er, invite) a friend into going along with you, you can tick the camaraderie box as well.
  • Free apps, library books, podcasts – all of these hold a wealth of possibilities, from running training to yoga, meditation to martial arts.

Secondly, this is an excellent time to develop new fiscal muscles. What do I mean by that? If you’ve had enough “slush” in your budget to get lazy about this, it’s time to buckle down. Commit to saving, even during tough times. Even the tiniest amount can show you your potential. Set a long-term goal and work toward it – something exciting. It’s a bit like losing weight. You won’t feel like you’re making a lot of progress at first, but if you get into a groove, you’ll find more and more small tweaks that work for you. Eventually it will become a habit, and when you reach a milestone, you’ll have a skill that will last no matter what the economy throws at you. Learn more about investing and growing your money. Especially, look for ways to increase your sources of passive income. Want help? Gather together a few friends you can be very open with, and start a financial conversation club. Building accountability is also a path to building resilience and support. And being well-supported goes a long way to keeping ourselves happy.

Get inspired. Read about some people who have made their biggest turnarounds during the worst of times. Try Hidden Solutions all Around You, or Rich Dad, Poor Dad. You could read a biography of Dolly Parton, or Oprah Winfrey.  Keeping your spirits up is truly helpful. Having been through quite a number of recessions and fiscal downturns at this stage, I am always hopeful, thanks to stories of hope and my own increasing body of experience. If you can manage a small amount of money to invest, there’s no better time. When stock prices and real estate values are down, it also means your upside potential is growing – “nowhere to go but up”, as they say. That doesn’t mean wild speculation, but do your research. Choose solid investments or properties whose potential you understand and whose risk you feel you can manage. Then be patient. There’s no place for get rich quick schemes here. Don’t rely solely on the advice of others, even experts. Study. Teach yourself things you need to know. Read widely. Can’t afford books in your budget? We’ve got one of the best public libraries in the country. Trade books with friends. Listen to podcasts. Options abound. All of it, free.

Barack Obama is quoted as having said, “Hard Things are Hard”. Managing during tough times is no different. Being self-employed for the past few decades, my family and I are well aware of this. We are also survivors, and I know you can make it through as well. Reach out to one another. And when the recession is over (and it will be, eventually), you will have a great deal of self-satisfaction at having gotten through it whole, and happy – and maybe even ahead of where you are now.

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