8 Secrets to Survive an Economic Downturn or Personal Financial Crisis

How to Survive a Financial Crisis and Economic Downturn.

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Are you going through a financial crisis or cut in pay? Has the Covid Pandemic created financial hardship for you?

If your income were to dramatically drop tomorrow, would you survive?

Would you spiral into a financial crisis or would you be able to keep your head above water?

Types of Economic Downturns

Over the past 40 years, we’ve seen a huge number of economic downturns. How many of these do you remember?

9 Economic Downturn examples:

  1. Energy Crisis (Gas prices soared 50 percent) July 1981 – November 1982
  2. The Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s – failure of 1,043 out of the 3,234 S&Ls from 1986 to 1995 in the U.S.
  3. Gulf War Recession (July 1990 – March 1991)
  4. Y2K in 2000
  5. Dot Com Bubble (March – November 2001)
  6. 9/11 Attacks in 2001
  7. The Great Recession – Housing Bubble – Sub Prime Housing – 2007 – 2009
  8. Covid 19 Downturn in 2020 – 2022
  9. 2022 Inflation – Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Whether it’s natural disasters, financial market collapses, or political unrest, you can be sure that Economic Downturns will continue to happen. We’ll share several things you can do to be prepared.

How are you doing Financially?

Many financial experts say that Americans who live paycheck to paycheck could be 3 months from homelessness.

We’re going to give you 8 Secrets that we’ve used to survive job layoffs, cuts in pay, and a nationwide financial downturn. 

If you were to ask ten different people in your town, “How are you doing financially compared to last year,” you’d probably get several different answers. And if you asked ten different people across the country the same question, the variety would be even greater.

It seems that no matter what the national economy is doing, there are always people who are experiencing plenty, lack, and doldrums when it comes to their financial situation. As a matter of fact, some are experiencing a true financial crisis.

The Certainty of Economic Booms and Busts

One thing is certain in life; personal economic booms and busts are inevitable. But what is not as certain is how you will weather the downturns, the economic valleys of life, and a possible financial crisis.

Some people seem to sail through job loss, repossessions and other financial speed bump with resolve and confidence that things will get better, while others will feel like life has come to an end and want to cash it all in.

Here are 8 secrets we have applied personally to survive a job loss, medical emergencies, and starting a business – all without having to borrow any money.

We’re not saying that if you do these things life will be easy, but we will say that you’ll be able to sail through rough seas without going under. And with each storm that you make it through, your financial muscles and confidence will grow stronger, and the waves will grow smaller. Here’s how we’ve survived our economic downturns in life and you can too!

Keep reading to get our 8 secrets to help you survive any economic downturn.

8 Secrets to Survive an Economic Downturn

Some of our secrets are common sense to many people, others may seem a little crazy. We’ve done most of these things over the past 40 years as we’ve weathered lots of economic downturns, job layoffs, and a few pay cuts.

1) Be a Manager – and Manage Your Money

Save in advance of expenses by using a budget described in our book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money, and in America’s Cheapest Family Budgeting System.

Or try YouNeedABudget (YNAB), it’s one of the only computer-based/app-based budget systems that work as our system. We’ve used a simple money management system since day one of our marriage. It’s helped us weather many financial storms.

We are totally convinced that a budget is the most effective tool we’ve ever used, and it helped us pay off our house in 9 years, pay cash for all of our cars and keep our overhead manageable.

2) Become A Researcher

Philosopher Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power.” Whether you’re fighting a political battle, a physical battle, or a fiscal skirmish, the more you know the more you’ll get. Research is one of the secret gems of successfully navigating a frugal life.

The more informed you are, the better you’ll be able to negotiate and the easier it will be for you to recognize a deal when you are looking at it. When you’re experiencing financial limits, or even a financial crisis, taking the time to research can produce some pretty hefty dividends.

a) Quote Your Insurance

Auto Insurance

75 percent of insured drivers renew their auto insurance without even giving it a second thought. But if you have a few minutes, quoting your auto insurance can save you a ton of money. We quote our insurance every 2 or 3 years. Sometimes the savings are minimal, but several times we’ve cut our costs by 30 to 40 percent.

Save Time Quoting:

We like using the website Gabi – it takes a few minutes to enter your info and they’ll give you quotes from multiple insurance companies. It’s super easy and saves you time and money.

Or you can call these three companies directly:


Health Insurance

Research different health insurance options. You could save $200 per month using eHealthInsurance It will take more than 15 minutes to quote your insurance, but even if it takes you 5 hours and you save $2400 in a year’s time, that $480 per hour you just earned . . . Tax-free!

3) Ask For Discounts

Over time you’ll learn where it is appropriate to ask and when it is likely to produce a good return, but initially, just ask. You’ll probably embarrass your kids and your spouse, but you very likely will get a positive answer more often than not. We’ve asked for and received discounts when buying cars, houses, insurance, clothes, food, building supplies, tools, artwork, furniture and so much more. You’ll be amazed at what will happen when you ask.

  • Are you a veteran? Ask for a discount.
  • Are you a student? Ask for a discount.
  • Are you a senior? Ask for a discount (learn about Grocery Stores with Senior Discounts here)
  • Are you a mom of multiples, homeschooler, teacher, civil servant, airline employee, a hotel employee . . . the list goes on and on, ask for a discount. And one more . . . are you paying cash . . . ask for a discount! Be ready to be surprised.

4) Be Patient

Ben Franklin is credited with saying, “Haste makes waste.” It is so true that in a rush to spend, rarely are savings found. In the midst of economic hard times, take the time to wait.

We have seen so many miracles as we have held off on spending when we have a need. Either a friend has the thing we need, we find an unexpected discount or we discover a way to work around the need. When we wait, we give time for creativity to germinate and provide an unexpected solution.

Because we live in a large city, we know that there is usually someone who already has the thing we want, and they don’t want it anymore. When we find that person, we’ve found our deal! We have found deals on CraigsList, eBay, OfferUp.comAmazon.com, or shopping at garage sales, church rummage sales, flea markets, and business closings. Be patient — your bargains are just around the corner.

5) Visit A Food Bank

When money is tight, cutting your grocery bill can be a real help. Most food banks serve specific geographic areas. Many have limits as to how often you can access them.

But the bottom line for food banks is that you can get a significant portion of your monthly food at no cost. This can free up some cash to be spent on other bills.

Yes, the food may not be the stuff that you normally buy. And it may not be your preferred brand, but it will provide nutrition and help you survive financially until the crisis abates.

You may feel humiliated going to a food bank. Just know that most of the people who volunteer or work at a food bank or at a smaller food pantry are compassionate and want to help you.

Find a Food Bank in your Area FeedingAmerica.org has a huge list.

Watch this video where we visited a local kosher food bank in Phoenix – find out what information they will ask for.


6) Be Resourceful

a) Grow your Own Fruit Trees

Plant fruit trees (bare root or from a cutting) so you can eat homegrown fruit. We have over 30 fruit trees on our property and it’s great to pick fresh fruit each year. This is especially easy if you live in a place where it rains a great deal and you have enough “chill hours” to grow many varieties of trees.

b) Grow Your Savings

Could you plant a garden outdoors or do container gardening on your patio or indoors? Start now. Growing your own organic produce can be huge savings and a great learning experience. Read Square Foot Gardening for more ideas.

c) Cook from Scratch!

Buying prepared foods cost 300 to 400 percent more than cooking from scratch. Cooking from scratch isn’t that hard and gets much easier as you practice. Plus it’s usually much healthier than prepared or fast food. Many families spend more money eating at restaurants than they do at the grocery store each month.

d) Free firewood

If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, watch for downed trees or neighbors who are trimming their trees. We’ve collected several cords of wood this way and heat part of our home in the winter with free wood.

e) Weatherize

Caulking windows and doors, using expandable foam and adding ceiling insulation are relatively inexpensive ways to keep the heat and cold out of your house. If you’re a crafty sewer, making heavy window coverings can keep your home more comfortable too. Planting windbreaks with trees and shrubs can also reduce utilities.

7) Multiple Streams of Revenue

One of the best ways to survive a financial crisis is to have alternative income sources. We’ve always been entrepreneurial, starting ministries, helping launch non-profits, and selling things we didn’t need.

In the past few years, we’ve had 5 streams of income/earnings going.

  1. Steve works part-time at an SEO Company
  2. We run MoneySmartFamily.com
  3. We are Airbnb Hosts (read how much we earn here), renting 3 rooms in our home
  4. We sell things we get for free or very inexpensively on eBay, OfferUp, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Learn about Retail Arbitrage here.
  5. Investments – we’ve put our retirement money to work for us in mutual funds.

a) Join Support Groups and Networking Groups

We survived 3 layoffs by using a budget, keeping our overhead low, and applying immediately for unemployment compensation. Involve your whole family in your financial conservation efforts. Be sure to find support groups where you can develop leads, and get help rewriting your resume, developing your LinkedIn profile and job searching. Many churches have these types of groups and most Chambers of Commerce do also.

b) Educate Yourself

Don’t expect someone to bail you out, read books on job hunting, and get additional certifications and job skills training. Check out LearningExpressLibrary.com they have realtor exams, civil service tests, GRE, and lots of other resources available through your library at no charge to you. Check out the resources at your public library – you’ll be amazed at what they can offer. Read Books!

c) Take any job

We know this flies in the face of most common logic, but if you haven’t worked for several months, getting a low-paying job and doing the best you can, with a good attitude, can make better things happen. You never know who you’ll meet when you’re working.

A ship at anchor never goes anywhere, pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes you.

d) Volunteer

The same blessings from taking a job come your way when you volunteer. So often volunteer positions turn into paying jobs or you meet someone, who knows someone else and good things happen. At the very least, volunteer at a food bank—extra food is always a bonus.

e) Invent something

Necessity is the mother of invention. While you’re working out your financial situation, keep your eyes and mind open for innovative solutions to common problems you are encountering. Perhaps you might create a marketable solution. Annette’s dad did this while he was retired working as a custodian at his church. He invented a device he called “The Original Drip Catcher” and sold thousands of them.

f) Sell Things You Don’t Need

So many of us have so much unneeded stuff. We’ve made hundreds of dollars selling off old toys, clothes, games, and housewares. If you don’t need it, perhaps it could be sold to provide income for food, paying off debt, or paying utilities. Read this article about some Pro-Flippers here.

g) Rent out a room

Become an Airbnb host or put up an ad at a local university. Renting a room out to a carefully screened renter may cause you to give up some privacy, but could provide much-needed income to help make it through your economic recovery.

RELATED ARTICLE: Airbnb Hosting Tips from a 5 Year Super Host

h. Start Flipping

We’ve met Rob and Melissa Stephenson from FleaMarketFlippers. They go to flea markets, garage sales and estate sales and pick up valuable items for pennies on the dollar. They turn around and often make 3x to 10x the value they paid. This is how they support their family.

Could you start doing the same thing? Start by cleaning out and selling unneeded things in your house. Then move on to buying deals and reselling them.

Read more about 4 families that are doing this here.

You can join Rob & Melissa for a Free Webinar. This webinar is pre-recorded, so you can access it right now!

8) Be Generous During a Financial Crisis

a) Give Time

If you don’t have money, give your time to help others at food banks, churches, animal rescues, soup kitchens, hospitals, airports, homeless shelters, adoption agencies, and food rescues.

b) Give Encouragement- Get to Know and Help Your Neighbors

If you end up with extra food from a food bank or food rescue, share it with an unemployed neighbor or family in need. Being generous, even in tough times will help you feel better and encourage others.

If you apply some of these 8 secrets you’ll get through your financial crisis with less stress and more fun and family times.

In this season of political change, when the economy is a focus of much debate and argument we need to remember that:

There is nothing WRONG in America that can’t be fixed with what’s RIGHT in America!

We, all the people, ARE America not just the people who we’ve sent to Washington!

For more ideas to save money in several areas of household finances, visit the MoneySavingTips page of our website

How to Survive a Financial Crisis and Economic Downturn.

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