Recession Anxiety: How I stopped Worrying and Learned To Love Thrift



Anxiety is a sneaky thing. It starts with watching the news of yet another company closing doors. Then we hear about a friend who just got laid off and we think, "There but for the grace of God…".  The unopened envelope holding the latest report on your 401K sits on the desk mockingly.  Sleep becomes elusive. The future, once so bright with promise, becomes the dark tunnel of the Haunted House ride. 

Anxious? How about terror stricken? And yet it could very well be that none of the things mentioned above effect our lives today. That's the thing about panic. We don't have to be directly threatened to feel as if we are. 

A recent article in the New York Times, Recession Anxiety Seeps Into Everyday Lives, reports that across the country latent anxiety is bubbling to the surface triggered by too much bad economic news. People are returning or stepping up their therapy sessions, trying meditation (not medication, but that too, actually) and yoga, re-engineering hobbies into cottage industries, etc., all of which is good news.

The point is they are treating their anxiety about a threat they can't do anything about with *can do* action!

Two days after the recession anxiety article the Times offers another antidote in Austere Times? Perfect, saving money. We learn about people who have taken up the banner of creative frugality. Being a cheapskate is the 'In' thing now.

This reminds me of a dear friend who has the kind of style common in France but you don't see much in the US. She and her husband are quite comfortable financially, so she could easily shop at Neiman Marcus. Instead she has always enjoyed finding just the right piece at the Thrift Store or garage sales, peppering her wardrobe with the occasional retail item. She always looks like a million bucks. Now everyone wants to be my friend.

Any who…  The antidote to anxiety is action. So here are a few thrifty recession-anti-anxiety-take-action suggestions for you:

1. Clean out your closets. Anything you or your kids haven't worn in the last year cull out of there. Be brutal. Then take the pile to a consignment shop like Plato's Closet. Not only did you lower your anxiety, you might pick up a few bucks on a resale.
2. Since you're in the consignment shop anyway stop and smell the bargains.
3. Time to dig. Plant a few food crops among the dahlias and azaleas or go for broke and plant a Victory Garden. The cost of sweat investment will pay off at harvest time.
4. Consider a garage or yard sale. I think these ventures are easier and more fun when a few neighbors or better yet the whole block is recruited to do a massive neighborhood yard sale at the same time. Don't do this by yourself or you'll just get anxious.
5. Dust off the sewing machine and get out your inner clothing designer. I found some great patterns on-line and, for me, the ritual of sewing almost meditative. This works best if you have toddlers who will actually wear what you sew. Same goes for knitting or crochet.
6. Take meal planning seriously and make it a family affair. By planning the week's meals together my kids don't complain as much as they used to and the grocery bills are down.
 7. A friend of mine said that before she buys something new she asks herself three things: Can I afford it? Do I love it? Can I live without it? Adopting this habit has saved me from many impulse buys and even a few well thought out ones where the answer to all three is YES.

PS. Just found a fabulous pair of Juicy Couture pumps at a consignment shop for $10!  I could afford them, I loved them and I couldn't live without them!

2 comments


  • I’ve being researching about Anxiety and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful :) . I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog!

    2010/01/05
  • Thank you.

    2010/01/07

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