Having problems making ends meet? Looking for work after being downsized? The Simon's financial consultant gives his helpful tips on making ends meet during these troubled economic times ...
Hello to my faithful Simon readership! Kevin Ernst-Baxter Field here with another column in my special business series, “Money Armageddon 2009: The Reckoning.” I’ve spent the last few weeks reinforcing just how dire this recession-slash-depression is. Now it’s time to answer my voluminous reader mail and tell you just how to survive this downturn. Hint: it doesn’t involve eating nothing but Top Ramen and selling your own plasma! Though it’s almost as easy.
If you’ve been following my career, you’ll know that I have an extensive background in economics, in that my father ran a hedge fund on Wall Street. Everything I know about business I learned from him, and while I may be biased… he’s the smartest guy I know. I can speak from personal experience as to just how tough times are right now: my dad’s fund fell apart and he’s been forced into retirement three years early. The annual deposits into my trust have dried up. So take it from me: these are dark days.
But they don’t have to be TOO dark. I have a number of suggestions as to how you can weather today’s economic storm: [Note to Eds. – I think this would make a great title for the article, please use.]
Now that the market is down: buy, buy, BUY. There’s no better time to put thousands of dollars in penny stocks. We’ve hit the floor, people. There’s nowhere else for stocks to go but up! Do what smart investors like Jimmy Buffett and my dad do: while everyone else is getting out, get IN to small-value stocks. Buy as much as you can – invest tens of thousands of dollars in whatever other investors think of as “losers.” Once the market turns, and those companies prove themselves, you’ll be sitting on a gold mine. A gold mine filled with stocks. (No bonds, though – bonds are for pussies.)
Make a difference in someone’s life. Times are hard now. Unemployment is rampant. How can you keep up with your charitable donations? Easy: it’s not all about writing a check to whoever hits you up first. Instead, donate your time to volunteer. Join a mentor organization like Big Brothers-Big Sisters. Help at a food bank. Give back to the community. Because come tax time next year, you can write off everything associated with your volunteering. That’s a huge benefit to helping the less fortunate: a kick-ass tax break that can help put you back in the black.
Sell any of your unneeded belongings. Pawn shops, garage sales and even Craigslist are all too small for the kind of money you need to make to be worth your effort. Start with eBay at the minimum. For example, I own two Rolexes of the same style – that way when one gets dirty, I can wear the other while the first is being cleaned, and no one will know the difference. Well, in the present economy, why not sell one? That’s worth thousands of dollars right there. Or if you own fine art, such as oils or sculpture, there are a number of reputable auction houses that will sell your items for you for only a small commission. Got a family heirloom? Whatever is worth the most money, start with that and sell the item as a rare “collectible.” Like they always say: your trash is another man’s treasure. Now turn that trash into cash!
Switch from super unleaded gasoline to premium unleaded gasoline. Every penny you can save at the pump is an extra penny you can add to your savings account or spend going out to a bar for drinks with a friend. There’s not much difference between 93 (or 91 for my readers in California) and 89 octane gas. Tell your driver to make the switch – I guarantee you won’t notice the difference. Except in your bank account. Where it counts.
Men: whatever you do, DON’T get married; if married, DON’T get divorced. This one’s self-explanatory: stay away from marriage. If you decide to get married, the only way your fiancée will be happy is if you give her a blank check to cover the wedding costs, at which point she’ll go on a spending spree like Sarah Palin on the RNC’s dime. Once married, the only way you’ll possibly keep your wife happy is by letting her run up your credit cards, and when the statements come, whose money pays those bills? Yours. But while being overwhelmed by debt all those years is horrible enough, imagine what will happen if you get a divorce: you’ll lose half of your property right off the bat, and that’s the best-case scenario. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned after three marriages, it’s that women only care about spending your money, not saving it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Three times.
As for you women: if you’re single, find a man as soon as possible, the wealthier the better. (Hope that he didn’t read the previous paragraph.) And if you’re already married, I hope it’s to someone wealthy – not to sound too negative, but that alone could mean the difference between life and death.
Grow your own crops. The notion of growing your own crops at home has been picking up steam lately, and I happen to agree. You can make good money for yourself by growing one crop in particular: marijuana. Read up on the Internet. There are plenty of sites that will tell you how to get started. While the costs at the outset can be steep, you’ll make that back in a few months, and from there on out it’s all profit, baby. Or should I say ‘green’? Deal only to college kids, urban professionals and the elderly. They won’t come after you for shorting their dime bag. Usually.
And that’s all the ideas I could come up with in time to meet my deadline. I’m sure you can think of some, too… but then again, you probably aren’t a professional like me. So until next week’s column, be careful… I don’t want to hear you’re losing any more money. Unless you’re a former Mrs. Field.