I have heard many people say that they have been saving more money than ever. According to Business Insider Americans have saved up an additional $2.18 trillion and have increased their saving rate from 8% to 13.1%. Nice job. However, we know the main reason the saving rate has increased is because everyone is at least limited in spending at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, consumer goods, and entertainment. Unlike previous economic crises, you are not refusing to spend on these items because of a lack of money, but because you do not have much of a choice.
Before the crisis I rarely spent in either of those categories. My saving rate of about 50% of my take home income is saved. Keep in mind the take home income is after taxes,my insurance, and 401k contributions. My saving rate is probably more accurately 30% of my income, but since my name is not revenue service first name internal I really do not use my gross income in my calculations. This showed me sadly that I cannot save money simply by cutting back spending. What spending? This showed me that people in general including yourself may be in trouble because most tips for saving are encouragement to cut back on spending. This is needed and very helpful, but not much if you have little or no income. Typical tips for saving money will not work.
You Need To Do More Than Cut Spending
Unemployment is still comparable to during the Great Depression and an analyst from Columbia says 200,000 – 250,000 people in America could join the homeless population. Even with this increase in savings could that be enough for an income shock of around 50%? What if you become unemployed or have to take a pay cut? What can you save if less or even no income is coming in? You cannot put aside money or simply cut back on spending, you need to stretch your dollar or even find ways to obtain your basic needs.
The best tips for saving money this way are the same tips for saving money that people have followed during the Great Depression. I still do not believe that this is going to be the Great Depression sequel, but I would be lying if I said we will easily recover. In fact, as far as I am concerned the next few months will determine if this event will be comparable if not even worse than the 2008 financial crisis or just a more moderate (maybe even just moderate) recession. However, these tips for saving money would be helpful even during times with little fear and a prospecting economy.
Use Less Water
There are many creative ways to save water. Recently I just painted furniture. You cannot paint dirt so I washed the furniture. The water was dirty, you would not want to drink it. But what about plants? In general, they do not care about how dirty the water is, especially since they live in dirt. So I watered them with that water. Even bath water or wash water can work this way. Unless you literally did not wash anything since the start of the pandemic, I’m pretty sure plants could survive your wash water.
This one I have learned from my father-in-law. The toilet in my apartment may be having issues refilling the reservoir. He told me to take an old milk-jug, fill it with water and put that in the reservoir. The jug will take up volume so there is less water needed to fill the reservoir. The reservoir will not overfill since the reservoir is set to fill up only a certain amount. Depending on the jug size that could be 2 to 4 liters of water saved for each flush. The same concept works with wash water.
I recommend using a milk jug because certain things will stick to the jug. Based off what I have heard is that this includes algae and water borne bacteria. That does not sound like something I like to clean so instead you should be set to dispose the container.
Unfortunately, collecting rainwater may or may not be illegal where you live. However, it is not illegal where my grandparents live and they have a system to collect and filter rainwater. Even if you do not have a filtration system like my grandparents this water could be used for other purposes including cleaning and gardening.
My grandfather literally saves every nail where the head nor the tip is rusted away. He has containers containing them of every size. These containers could fill the nail aisle at a department store. Truth is, this is one of the most common tips I heard for people saving money.
This can be applied to many tools including wood, screws, wires, etc. Note, these types of equipment should be used safely and if it looks fishy do not reuse it, at least not for what it was intended.
Abandon The Pets
There is not easy way to say this, but if you are in a real pinch for money you need to abandon your pet(s). I know that sounds harsh, but people spend much of their money on pets. They should not if they are short for money. The pet industry that makes over $200 billion dollars annually, that would be on average over $600 per person assuming everyone has a pet. If you have to choose between feeding your pet or feeding yourself, this will be a hard decision emotionally, but objectively it should not be a hard decision.
Learn How To Garden
There’s a good reason my grandparents knew how to garden. They grew up during the Great Depression and learned how to grow their own food. My grandparents have mastered growing rhubarb, onions, leeks, carrots, and apples. They even had their own vineyard at one point (well past the Great Depression of course). You do not need the best soil to grow. Heck, potatoes can grow in almost anything better than sand and will improve the soil they are planted in. Granted plants kind of need one specific thing. Sunlight! I tried to grow my own spices in Philadelphia…surrounded by buildings…in a semi-basement apartment. I may have a PhD, but that does not mean all my ideas are bright nor fruitful.
It may be difficult to grow plants in a city, maybe even impossible with your current home, but growing your own food is one of the best ways to survive with a sudden shock to your income.
Note: I am not your doctor nor nutritionist, I cannot be held responsible for any diseases nor complications for any plants you consume that are not approved by appropriate agencies. Consume plants at your own risk.
My grandfather did not just learn how to grow plants, but to look for them. Some plants in the wild, or even just hanging in your yard are edible. My favorite two are sour grass and wild strawberries. There are many sites which can show you what plants are edible in the wild.
Keep two things in mind though. First, many edible plants have a poisonous mimic. Looking for wild strawberries? Check the flower petals. The mock wild strawberry has yellow petals while the wild strawberry has white petals. I have heard many other signs, but they do vary. The mock berry is mostly just inedible, but in some instances it can cause an allergic reaction. Second, for many plants it does not matter how edible they are, if they are near an area treated with herbicides certain parts may be toxic, even edible parts. Do this at your own risk.
Trapping And Hunting
Note: I am not your doctor nor nutritionist, I cannot be held responsible for any diseases nor complications for any animals you consume that are not approved by appropriate agencies. Consume animals at your own risk. Also note hunting and trapping laws.
I have previously mentioned that I am a hunter. In this part if you hate the idea of hurting animals I recommend skipping to the next section.
Hunting is a valuable skill to have. It is a skill that is teaches you tactical patience and also provides you with a great source of meat. This is a hobby which is not for everyone, not everyone has the will nor stomach to kill. I remember exactly how it felt when I saw the deer drop because I pulled the trigger. Many people cannot deal with this feeling. It is the feeling that you have just killed. Sure, people may swat insects, but that is instinct. It is different to kill something much larger and much further away.
Furthermore, you cannot just deliver the deer to the butcher, you need to field dress it. If you thought a bullet was brutal to a deer wait until you realize the best way to ensure the quality of the meat is to remove the entrails. All with one careful cut across the deer and a pull out of the entrails would be the best way. I handled it fine, I could hear my little brother choke a few times as I did it. He said it was the smell, he still wants to hunt, and I hope he was being honest. If he does not have the will nor stomach to kill, that is fine, but then he should not hunt. The same applies to you.
Go For Small Game
If you do not like the idea of killing nor field dressing a deer just meandering in the forest, maybe you are more open to the rabbit nibbling on your lettuce. Killing a rabbit does not require much equipment, an airgun should easily do the trick. Skinning a rabbit is almost easier done than said, and you can remove 80% of the meat rather easily, the rabbit leg, and the loins. I have linked a video of how to do this. Do not take the title personally, everyone needs to start somewhere.
If you are pressed for money and have no weapon to hunt with, you will not be able to buy one now, not for the chance to bring food to your table. However, you can easily make a bow or other hunting weapons. I know of someone who has made a bow and arrows out of bamboo. Literally, the only part that was not bamboo was the bow string. While seemingly primitive, this can kill smaller game. While I do not know of anyone downing a deer with such a weapon, I imagine this could be done.
Consuming mice for survival is far from unheard of. In fact, consuming mice as a delicacy is far from unheard of as well. Mice can be consumed at least fairly healthfully. However, keep in mind one of the theories of where the SARS-CoV-2 came from. You have no idea of the diseases coursing through a mouse’s blood. There are good reasons we have agencies establish regulations to ensure quality of food (sometimes very good reasons).
You could set up mouse traps to capture pests for consumption. However, this is still killing a living thing. In fact, on more than one occasion I had to sever the spine of the mice I have trapped. I have never eaten them, but I know that mice can provide sustenance.
You could easily establish traps to capture other animals including rabbits. Snares and cages are classic strategies and are used today for good reasons, THEY WORK. Trapping never needs to be complicated. Once again though, you may have to be prepared to personally kill the animal.
Learn How To Sew
How many outfits do you have? How many do you think you need? What about through the seasons? Chances are half of what you own is clothes. And you probably throw out half of these clothes, or donate, whatever you like to call it. What, a little hole appears on clothes and it’s time to throw them out?
No. My grandparents, my mother, and my wife are good seamstresses. I am a seamstress (that’s optimistic). We are capable of repairing our clothes instead of buying new ones straight forward. My wife’s and my clothing budget is probably easily a little over $100 annually. Compared to the annual $1,700 an American family spends on clothes this is at least below average. I know people who have kept shirts and pants for 30 years who make even my wife’s and my budget appear exuberant.
We are in for some tough times ahead. Unfortunately, tips for saving money during an economic crisis are not the same as the tips for saving money during good times. You will need to be creative and make sacrifices if you are in a pinch for money. These are not tips to forge your wealth nearly as much as they are to survive. Be cautious in the future, and be safe throughout this crisis.