Technically, I'm not blogging or writing for a few days - it's supposed to be a break but it's torture. All the books say you should take a couple of weeks off after writing a novel to think different thoughts before going back and reading the thing with your critical editor's eye in focus. I'm not loving it. It occured to me that I could legitimately publish an off-topic post and that would enable me to stay within the non-writing rule a bit.
How to Enjoy the Recession/Depression
A recession is upon us. What fun. A jolly challenge presents itself and we all get the chance to perfect a bit of old fashioned stiff-upper-lipped Britishness (whether British or not.) Dust off the brown tea pot, polish up your knitting needles, get out your baking trays, it's show time! Some of the following will only apply if you're English but the general gist of it should be of assistance regardless.
- Don't be a wimp. If you need to cry about the economy taking a downturn, losing your job etc do it now and get it over with... finished? Good. Get counselling for it once the economy picks up again but for now, get over it; there's more important stuff to do. Remember something that is easy to forget in a capitalist society - you are more than the sum of your belongings - Get some lipstick and, on your bathroom mirror, write the following in 'large friendly letters': DON'T PANIC!
- Edit your friend wardrobe. If you have any friends who only judge people on the basis of what they earn or possess, they need to go. You can pick them up again when the economy picks up - if you want to - but for the time being they will make you spend too much and cause you all manner of hell once they lose their own money and realise their lives are empty. Get out while you can. Friends cost money and in a recession you can only afford the good ones. Work out their 'cost per grin' value and if it fits into your happiness budget they can stay.
- Poverty doesn't kill you. Starvation kills you. Enjoy your food. Rejig your attitude to your jiggly bits. Stop asking 'does my bum look big in this?' Start asking 'does my bum look small in this?' If it does, eat some biscuits. If this recession turns into a depression, some people will starve. Make sure you are not one of them. Carbs are your friends. Throw out the sugar substitutes. Shake that healthy butt. Camels have humps for a reason and so do you. Celebrate your body's ability to store calories for later use. Exercise them off again when the economy picks up. Until then, remember that rice and pasta keep for ages so if there is a supply problem later in the year or the price goes up due to requirements elsewhere on the planet, it won't hurt to have some in a cupboard.
If you are in financial difficulty, contact the following people:
The Council: you may be entitled to housing benefit - most people are. If you have less than £16,000 in savings you could be getting help with rent while times are hard. You've paid your taxes so the money's yours if you need it. Stop being proud and call them. They're nice people. Really. Be kind to them - they have lots of angry people going in and shouting at them. It's not nice. Smile at them and they'll help you. You may also be entitled to help with Council Tax etc. This particularly applies if you've just been made redundant.
-Citizens' Advice Bureau: They'll help you take the right steps for your particular situation, put together budgets etc.
- Payplan: These people are amazing if you have any problems with debt. They are the ones the Citizens' Advice people or National Debtline will put you in contact with if you need help sorting out your finances so go straight to them if this is your particular problem. They can put together an IVA for you or a debt management plan or advise on things like bankruptcy and relevant financial legislation and they are FREE!
- www.moneysavingexpert.com You can download forms if you've been mis-sold insurance or need to claim back bank charges etc. There's advice on what to do if you've been made redundant, been messed about by your bank etc. There's an answer for just about everything on this site.
If you're not in financial trouble, have oodles of cash and don't know what all the fuss is about take the following steps:
- Look at why this is. If you have inherited money or made a killing out of business, the ultimate source of your profits will be the difference between what you or your ancestors paid for people's time and effort and what it was actually worth. If it weren't for the work of the masses you wouldn't have the cash and if these same masses don't get back to work, you won't have anything to spend your cash on. Don't feel bad about being loaded, it doesn't make you a bad person, but don't feel too smug about it as it doesn't make you a good person either. You've been helped out along the way whether you know it or not, so now's the time to do something about it.
- Spend some of it. Look around; think which businesses will affect the local community most if they disappear and spend more cash there.
- Pay taxes. Stop it with the tax-haven malarkey. It's just wrong in the current climate. Pay some tax in your home country. Go on, you know you want to really.
- Give some away. None of this 'ooh, look at me, I'm giving away money' stuff - unless you really need the approval in which case do it. Try giving money away to people who really need it. Who in your county or country needs some money and would do something great with it? Just give it to them. Do this with at least 10% of your worth every month. Wipe out your affluenza at a stroke.
- Buy organic. Lots of people are having to adjust their organic and green principles in favour of annoying things like avoiding starvation and hypothermia. You don't have to do that so splurge on organic, environmentally and ethically sound produce and keep these people in business. Keep partying for the greater good.