Last week a friend of mine made an astounding observation about me and my behavior as a consumer. And it has rocked my world.
You see, for quite some time now I have been repeating the same refrain to my friends and family: “I am recession proof!” I am referring to myself here purely as a consumer—as such, my spending habits have remained the same, regardless of the endless bad news cycle on the economy. Amidst it all, I’ve remained steadfast in the face of decreased consumer confidence, especially in my day-to-day spending. I always follow up each $4.53 coffee drink purchase or $18 martini with my mantra, “The economy has nothing to fear from this consumer.”
Or so I thought.
Despite all of my talk to the contrary, my friend claimed that in fact, I had made quite a few far more significant adjustments to my spending. He made this statement right after I confessed to him that the wine he was drinking was half the cost of what I usually serve, yet was arguably equal in quality. Ok, so I was open to less expensive wine as long as the quality was equitable. So sue me. He smiled, shook his head, and moved on.
But his observation stuck with me. Over the last few days I started to identify and take stock of what changes I had made and what the effect on my wallet really was.
The shift was slow, and it was imperceptible to me. Until now… I slowly made these adjustments, not due to anything imperative, but because in the midst of the economic troubles, it seemed like the responsible thing to do.
A few of the changes that come to mind:
- Lights out! It has become a challenge for me to consume less and less energy each month, and especially year over year. Last year, I started tracking my energy usage and cost, and have dramatically reduced my monthly bills.
- Waste not, want not: I love to cook but have never had any interest in ‘leftovers.’ Now, instead of cooking several times a week, I have started preparing one or two large meals that will carry me through a couple of lunches and additional dinners. My food/grocery spending this year is almost half what it was last year.
- Sorry Starbucks: That $4.53 coffee drink isn’t history yet, but I’ve learned how to make it at home. By my estimates, I will be depriving my favorite coffee house of approximately $600 in 2010.
This behavior will continue long after we emerge from the recession—I enjoy the challenges and the outcome has had a positive effect on my cash flow. I suspect I am not alone.
In the meantime, I will be forging new relationships with brands offering high-quality products that recognize this ‘new normal.’ By doing so, brands will be demonstrating that they have an understanding of how the behavioral and attitudinal shifts taking place now will help shape our personal economic futures.