Whenever the economy takes a nosedive like the recent recession, consumers are forced to change their money habits. In a way, the recession has done a good thing in making consumers face the harsh reality on their bad spending habits. In a study done on American consumers, below are some things that have changed significantly.

• More and more consumers have learned to differentiate on what are the important essentials from the frivolous wants. More and more people prefer to make cash purchases and cut back on loans or credit card debt.

• Window shopping used to be popular as a way to relax and get out of the house. However, people are now mindful and aware that this past time tends to make them spend money unnecessarily.

• Consumers are going back to basics. Getting the latest gadget does not seem appealing anymore. For example, a cell phone is just a simple phone for communicating rather than for browsing the web, checking emails, etc. Some people have even stopped their cable TV or paid programs altogether.

• Living together has also become popular. To save on rent, some people willingly sacrificed their privacy and do not mind sharing spaces. Children who have moved out of the house are also moving back in with their parents.

• Daily luxuries have also taken a beating such as foregoing the daily pack of cigarettes. A pack of smokes cost about $5 and besides saving money, it makes sense to kick the bad habit. Some smokers have also resorted to buying their own personal machines for making their own cigarettes which saves cost in the long run.

• For people who love to eat, cutting back on food consumption does save money. From reducing outings to restaurants to reducing the portion of food consume and going for simpler dishes or meals.

• Print media has become less popular as people are cutting back or cancelling their subscriptions to printed materials. They prefer surfing the web to get free news and information.

• Cancelling visits to the doctor, cutting back or discarding medication are also part of reducing cost. This is especially happening for those who are unemployed or those without health insurance coverage.

• Stop dating? Believe it or not, dating has also taken some impact. Expensive dates are a major no, no. Simple outings like going hiking are in instead. The worst case scenario for some people is to stop dating altogether until their financial situation improves significantly. Looking for employment or having a stable income is more urgent compared to enjoying a social life.

What about you? What lifestyle changes have you made?

Read other articles by Jacquelyn at WParent.com on parenting matters and Tips4Everyone.com on solving marriage problems.

    6 replies to "Reality Bites"


      I have been working within my budget and living frugally no matter the economy is in recession or not. As long as there are needs, I will allocate funds for that. As for wants, I either delay or cancel them. Of course, most importantly, we need to have emergency buffer for any unexpected rainy day.

    • Bujang

      sorry for the typo error

    • Bujang

      Hi KC,

      What I’ve did is simple and manage to strech my bucks. Something I remebered as below:
      1) Bring home cooked food rather than going out for lunch, save me at least RM7 per day x 22 = RM154,
      2) Cancelled my gym session and start walking / running near my taman, more safety, less time consuming and more time with my nieces. RM50 a month
      3) Cancelled 1 credit card and restructured my debt, I am using high interest rate first method and I am no longer charging anything on my credit card (kept it at home for emergency only). Save on interest for RM8K at 15% per annum = RM1200 (rough calculation)
      4) Maintain my old phone, evethough not classy enough for nowdays, but as long as I can call, receive call, check missed calls and sms, then I am okay. So forget about getting an Iphone till I save tripple for it.
      5) Maintain my ride carfeully and use it carefully too, as I found my money drain towards my car due to not taking care it properly enough, but now the ride is superb and I can balik kampung via care compared to by plane. Save RM 1200 a month (cost for flight ticket+taxi+parking return trip)

      some of these have somehow provide me a positive cashflow in last 3 months!! still long way to go mate,

      • KCLau

        These are the things within our control. Most people who are in financial difficulty never realize that 90% of the result is within our control. Only 10% is depending on luck.

    • Sayeed

      All the above is very true. Some people got it when the economic recession happenned in the past 1 1/2 years, but some got it even earlier somewhere in thier lifes.
      Healthy lifestyle awareness is being supported with saving as well. Lot more people nowadays are eating at home rather than having meals outsite. The reality shows like Biggest Loser, have put some sense into people that eating right food with right portion helped, people who are aware of thier lifestyle are modified to meet requirements.
      This would not only help current unwanted spendings at Coffee Bean or expensive fast food chains even mamak restaurants are expensive nowadays, but long term avoidance from medical bills.
      For those are already on financial recovery and planning, good luck for our successes.

    • Chew Keng Sheng

      I have resorted to reduce to have just ONE credit card account; canceling all others. And I find that it is more than enough.

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