How I relax (frugally) in this economy
How I relax (frugally) in this economy
I need a massage.
Okay, really, we all need massages.
The fact is, we’re getting pummeled with bleak financial news every time we turn around. It’s disheartening – and I think it’s hurting national morale.
And I just watched an episode of Supernatural that was all about how fear can take control of you. Granted, it was a funny episode, as a normally macho guy turned into a simpering dweeb (with a great, high-pitched girly scream, no less). But the point remains: Terror and foreboding can take over, and run your life.
So, instead of contributing to the angst and dread, I want to focus on how to take back control. And the biggest way to do that is to relax.
Of course, the easiest way to relax would be that massage, but most of us can’t afford massages.
So first thing’s first:
Make sure you can’t afford a massage.
• Be their practice dummy. Massage therapists, like all therapists, have to practice. This means that you may be able to get a $30 massage. Usually, it’s for first-time customers only, but hey it’s still a $30 massage. Some people don’t take advantage of this because they don’t know about it. Others are reluctant to try a student. But in the unlikely event that the massage is sub-par, you can always ask for a supervisor and (politely) voice disappointment. Chances are, they will be eager to make amends.
• Barter. Craigslist is a fascinating read. Especially the barter section. You’ll find some pretty esoteric offers out there. You’ll also find a lot of massage therapists offering up their services in exchange for things. Like a lot of independent contractors, many of them want to trade out for health and dental. But many are also just looking to see what they can get. So think of some things you’re good at – from website-building to resume polishing to basic chores – and offer. The worst they can do is say no. Don’t forget that you may also have things they’re interested in. So look through your clutter and see what might appeal. Perhaps it’s not worth a lot, but maybe a discount on a massage?
• Trade. Okay, so maybe you can’t build them a cool website. But look around your clutter. Do you have something they might want? Perhaps something that will get you at least a discounted massage session? And don’t forget about unused gift cards. Others might have a massage gift card to trade. Or the massage therapist might take your gift card in lieu of payment (or as partial payment).
Next: Take a deep breath and try to remember: This will pass. As advice goes, it’s a little old, sure. But the fact is, it’s the best way to survive with your sanity during these tough times.
When the anxiety starts mounting, you need to try to calm yourself down. You can do this pretty simply. You just have to remember that you’re ahead of the curve.
Think about it: We keep seeing all these stories about how the American family is having to change in the face of the dreadful recession. The stories talk about shopping sales, couponing, budgeting, trimming expenses and tons of other things that you’ve already dealt with. You’re much farther along than most of your countrymen (and women).
If you’re still breathing into a paper bag at this point, then you need to make a list. It can be on paper or in your head – whatever works best for you. List all of the things that you have done to further your goal. Be sure to list each expense you’ve cut as a separate item. After all, each one required a decision on your part, so you need to recognize that. Even if you haven’t madeyou’re your changes yet, you probably still have a lot of things to list.
Off the top of my head, we’ve made plenty of changes:
1. Tim and I are using more coupons
2. We’re stocking up on sales to avoid the shopping as much.
3. We are trying to cook more and eat more leftovers.
4. I’m shopping around for cheaper Internet options.
5. I’m buying less candy to cut down on grocery bills.
6. We’re using the food bank
7. We’re making a conscious effort to make fewer impulse buys.
8. I’m trying out online programs to bring in a little extra money to throw at debts.
9. I checked out my credit report to ensure it was accurate (a higher score gives me better leverage with card companies)
10. We lowered our Blockbuster Online membership to reflect our actual needs, saving $15/month.
So take a moment to breathe deeply. Realize that you’re already doing a lot. Think of it as a budgetary rosary. Going over the changes you’ve already made will help you feel more in control of your financial fate.
And if that’s not enough, make a to-do list. Think of ways that you can do more. Then vow to implement one a week (or a month, or whatever) to make your money go even farther. Whenever the anxiety starts mounting, review all the changes you’ve made so far to get away from debt and live within your means.
Finally, if you still need to relax, create your own spa atmosphere. You can make bath salts pretty easily, especially if you have a crafty hobbies store near you. Most of them sell affordable sea salts, and even some coloring or aromas you can add. Or, you can find discount versions at Ross, Marshalls or Tuesday Morning. You can make an affordable sugar scrub with white sugar and mineral oil. It’s great for exfoliating.
Don’t forget exercise is a great relaxer, too. (And an excellent prelude to the nice long bath.) Exercise will help you burn off some of the stress. It will also raise your endorphins. And if you get out, the natural light will be good for you, especially in the wintertime. Take a long walk or jog and you’ll feel better..
Or rent your favorite comedy, pop some popcorn and have a good laugh.
Just do whatever you need to in order to relax and escape a bit. Whatever it takes to feel more in control.