The Sky is Falling
The sky is falling in…I just heard it from a reliable source.
If you were to heed the squallings of the Irish media (aka Chicken Licken) in recent weeks, you’d be inclined to head straight for the King’s house and tell him your news. Not that poor auld Brian Cowen isn’t already grimly aware that the roof of Leinster House is falling in around him.
Oh for the days when the only aspect of a Government Budget that remotely influenced me was how much would be put on the price of a pint. It seems like a dim and distant memory now. I’ll hold my hands up and freely admit I did my best to blank out as much as possible of the hysteria surrounding Budget 2009. But the panic, stress and frustration of the past few weeks still managed to seep through.
The anticipation and hype were just too much for me. I felt completely guilty (and even a little fearful) for enjoying a night out and treating myself to a new frock. Could it really be as bad as George Lee and the lads had predicted?
I’m too young to remember the similar level of chaos in the Eighties but I do know this: no matter what the alarmists tell you, economic recession is actually quite common, it’s part of the financial ebb and flow. After the thriving years of the Celtic Tiger, it was inevitable that there’d be a downturn. Okay, so this recession is far worse than what we’ve experienced in previous years. But if you’ve been living somewhere within your means all along, you shouldn’t really have anything to worry about.
Across the board, we could all do with learning a few lessons on tightening our belts – surely it’s far preferable to losing our shirts. There’s a plethora of advice out there on how to survive on your fraying shoestrings (the reason for the awful clothing puns will become clear further on). The most prevalent advice I’ve come across is to cut those credit cards now and make up your mind to either pay cash for purchases or do without. In tougher times, cash is king so take on no new debt and learn to live on less money than you make.
With what’s left over, you’ve got to save, save, save…because we don’t know what’s coming next. Only buy what you need. This involves being super-organised. Like planning your weekly meals and drawing up your shopping list accordingly, instead of chucking anything you fancy into the trolley. Or taking advantage of discount promotions, spending less on what you already buy. Or mapping out your errands and activities the night before to be sure you use as little petrol as possible.
God, I’m bored. I apologise in advance if I spear to be flippant about so serious a situation. But between the gloomy weather and the gloomy predictions, I can understand how people went slightly loopy in the Eighties and started wearing legwarmers and sporting mullets.
Here’s a great piece of advice I came across: hold a clothes-swapping party, apparently they’re all the rage now. Remember the Swap Shop? Well the latest trend is getting together with like-minded ladies to swap your unwanted, good quality clothes and accessories. I suppose we could also take up Scrabble – it will cut out the need for that 42″ plasma screen TV and ward off dementia in the process. Great stuff. Speaking of electricity, candles do give off a wonderfully romantic glow.
For the entrepreneurial in spirit amongst ye, a recession is apparently an excellent time to start a business. In hard times, raw materials and office space are cheaper, suppliers turn up on time and offer reasonable terms and even builders and plumbers return your phone calls.
And readers, take heart – recessions don’t last forever and the economy will eventually rebound. Remember what happened to Chicken Licken after the Great Depression – he put his best foot forward and became Colonel Sanders.