Friday, February 13, 2009

Ain't Y'all Heard? It's A Recession!

I don't subscribe to that whole "economic downturn" bullshit they are trying to sell me- the U.S.A. is B.R.O.K.E.!!!

Mere mortals like myself didn't really feel it at first- I don't have investments, a 401K, property, a car or any of that mess so it was all whatever.

But then the auto industry was falling off the ledge and that affected my tiny family. And then the ethanol industry boom finally burst and food prices started going through the roof. And the final nail in the coffin? I didn't get a bonus OR a raise this year. That's when I knew this shit was SERIOUS.

So now we're all in the thick of it, struggling, hustling, putting Plans B, C & D into full effect, activating the Bat Signals and thinking back to how our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents dealt with lean times.

Please trust that every little bit counts.

What am I doing? Ugh... too much! But here are some tips to help keep you out of the poorER house until Saint Obama delivers us from brokeness. (sorry, just had to get my Obama dig in there!!)

1- Get Creative In The Kitchen
Food is a difficult thing with me because I can get pretty picky when it comes to what I will buy, cook and eat. Lately, Foodtown has only had good deals on ribs, ground beef and pork chops. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo... I don't eat beef or pork. Why are they toying with my emotions? When are they going to put that damn family pack of Shady Brook Farms ground turkey on sale again?? That shit is damn near the main staple of my diet! I take those three pounds of turkey goodness and transform it into a small turkey loaf, one pot of turkey chili, and a couple dozen turkey meatballs. BOOM- three days worth of dinner for me and the babies right there, WITH leftovers for the weekend.

But alas, ground turkey has been hard to come by. So we look for deals on seafood, chicken and turkey products like Kielbasa and italian sausage (which I recently discovered is a decent substitute for ground turkey if you remove the casing and crumble up the meat, PLUS it's already seasoned. BONUS!!).

Also, I shop at like 4 different markets, hunting down deals like a crazy coupon lady. And don't forget the cardinal rule... BUY IN BULK... even if you live alone!

So far we haven't gone hungry because I'm great at improvising and making things last and dammit, just going without so the babies can eat. But please don't feel bad for me... I can afford to skip a meal. Or five. Do I need to send you a pic of my jiggly belly? Don't make me...

2- Bills, Bills, Bills
There is no escaping these mo-fo paycheck eaters, so the only thing I can tell you is REDUCE THEM BITCHES!

Do you really need a landline? Unlimited texting on your cell? ALL those cable channels? Must you keep all the god-damn lights on all the god-damn time? And for chrissake- would it kill you to unplug the shit you aren't currently using (not including the stove and fridge)?

Laugh if you want to, but I've reduced my electric and gas bills by at least 25% in the past year, and with the high-ass rates we have in NYC, that's nothing to shake a stick at!

3- Entertainment & Extras
You know I love to be OUT as much as the next guy, but c'mon. We're all adults. Some things you just have to put aside for now, like $12 movies (with the $5 small popcorn and the $4 small soda), $15 CDs and $22 DVDs. They can all just get the hell on because THIS chick watches shit for free online and gets music through 'connected' friends.

Shoes, clothes, accessories, OH MY! Do you really need another pair of jeans? Sneakers? ANOTHER hoody? Why? 'Cause that shit looks hot? And? You know what else is hot? Not being the homeless dude in a pair of designer jeans. At most you need one article of clothing for everyday of the week. For example, I have FIVE, yes only FIVE pairs of pants I wear to work. I wash them often and just keep recycling them with a different top. If the people I work with have shit to say about that they are more than welcomed to buy me more pants with their money 'cause I'm good.

As for eating out/going out for drinks... well, there will be times when you cannot stay in because you're going stir crazy in your apartment. But when you do it, be smart- go to happy hours, eat at small, family owned restaurants, know the staff and get hooked up, split the bill and most importantly- pre-game it at your place so you won't feel like you need to order every drink in the joint.

4- DIY Overload
This is not the time to be lazy or live like your daddy got A-Rab money: take public transportation over a cab, do your own laundry, cook your own food, sew your own clothes, pluck your own brows, wax your own 'stache, do your own hair, manicure your own nails. You ain't famous- do your own shit!

5- Side Hustle Til You Drop
Teachers can moonlight as tutors. Cops can moonlight as security officers. Stay-at-home-moms can take in another kid or two to babysit. There's a side hustle for every occupation under the sun, believe me, so find it, do it, and pocket the money in a high-interest ING savings account.

Mi gente, we will ride out this nasty, broke-ass wave, you'll see. My family lived through hell in DR back in the day and again in the Carter and Reagan years when NYC was so broke people left the City in droves. We'll live through this, too, and I'm bringing all of y'all with me!!

*smooches...channeling mami, grandma, and Nenena in this post*
seriously- if you need help getting your budget under control let me know and I'll help you, free of charge. My mom helped me a year ago and it really made a difference. Just one of the perks of being the child of an accountant who came to America from a poverty-stricken country... we KNOW how to stretch a dollar AND a peso!

At the very least I can send you the template for the excel spreadsheet she created for me to keep my money in check, in case you don't already use Quicken or something similar. It's all about making sure all my people are uplifted... now, feel free to pay this shit forward!