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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Recession Defensive Strategies for Women

By Galia Gichon

With the recent news, it is hard not to feel the jitters of the economy. You might not be feeling the recession directly or maybe you are just reading about it in the paper. However, there are many of you that are having a harder time finding a job, or your mortgage payment has increased or you are noticing your 401(k) statement has gone down considerably. It can't hurt to implement some recession defensive strategies.

Hone your networking skills
- regardless of your job or if you are a stay-at-home Mom. This includes carrying business cards with you at all times, attending more networking events (professional and business) and taking advantage of social networking sites (like LinkedIn). Even if you are not working, create a business card (you can get them for free at Vistaprint!) with your contact information. A client recently ran into an old colleague at the grocery store and is still kicking herself that she did not have a card with her contact information.

2) I have worked with many women who have dogs and have splurged the last few years on "doggy day care" and dog groomers. This luxury is one of the first to go these days.
Find a local high school student or consider sharing dog-walking duties with a friend or neighbor. Also, consider some of the expenses you might have with the dog, such as pet insurance, monthly clothing allowance (yes for the dog), or organic homemade premium dog food.

In terms of eating out, a big part of most budgets, many women are electing to eat out at less expensive restaurants.
It used to be the norm to meet at the latest trendy restaurant but now many women are focusing on keeping the total bill less than $30-40. If one of your habits was to go out to lunch with everyone in the office, don't be embarrassed to suggest the local diner instead of the gourmet sandwich shop. I guarantee you are not the only one feeling the pinch and would like to come home with more dollars in your wallet.

Pick one indulgence a week and put a dollar amount on it.
Take a hard look at your spending plan and designate a weekly dollar amount you can afford that you can spend guilt free. It may be as little as $25 a week or even $50 a month but assign a fixed dollar amount. Now that you have that amount, you have permission to spend on indulgent items or services; perhaps it is buying a new pair of shoes or treating yourself to a massage. The key is only to do that one thing. If you buy a new pair of shoes, don't shop at Whole Foods; there is always next week. Prioritize your spending.

Stagger your beauty treatments.
It sounds stereotypical but many women break their budget on manicures, pedicures, haircuts, and color. I am guilty of that as well. Especially as we have earned more money, we have spent more in this department. It is hard to go cold turkey so start staggering the treatments and consider inexpensive salons. Get a manicure every 3 weeks, instead of every week, or find a less expensive place to get your hair colored or pass on the pedicure until sandal season is in full swing. I could not imagine not doing any of these treatments but they can be spaced out and give my spending plan a little more flexibility. I recently went to a much cheaper hair salon for hair color. Nobody, including myself, noticed the difference. Also, consider only paying cash. Even if you do not have credit card debt, you will still spend less. That is a fact!

Galia Gichon is the Founder of Down-to-Earth Finance. She provides unbiased financial education and planning without selling any investments. She has more than 14 years financial experience and is the author of My Money Matters, a boxed set of financial affirmations, instant money tips, and workbooklet. Galia is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama on money related topics. Please visit www.downtoearthfinance.com and www.mymoneykit.com.