LIVING IN THE BUBBLE
It seems to me lately that we’re all living in a little bubble. In Vancouver. A Vancouver bubble.
When is the economy really going to hit us?
People have been talking about the bad economy, but how much has it really affected us? Yes — it’s true, real estate prices are dropping. But not that much. Yet. Yes, some video game studios have closed down, and across the city there have been a number of layoffs in different industries and office closures. And yup, people have been going to Starbucks a lot less.
But what I’ve really noticed is how Vancouver seems relatively unaffected. Part of why I’m noticing this is because of my recent move.
There’s one major thing I noticed while looking for apartments: People can’t sell their overpriced condos anymore, so they are renting them out. But they are renting them out for ridiculous sums of money… that no one wants to pay. $2700 for a 2 bedroom that is 800 square feet is too much. WAY too much. $2200 for a 1 bedroom that is 600 square feet (a.k.a a shoe box) is way too much. Do landlords really think they are going to be able to rent out their apartments for that much?
I also noticed that many apartments had been vacant for months. Hmm, could have something to do with the rental prices.
Another mind blowing observation… stores are barely going on sale. How can they stay in business? Most furniture stores I have been to have been completely devoid of customers. And their prices? Still as high as last year, if not higher. Most stores I have been to these days don’t seem to be offering any significant sales. Why?
People still seem to be shopping at Gucci and Prada. They’re still buying nice cars. They’re still going out for expensive dinners. People are still taking extravagant vacations. Has this decreased? Or is it still the same?
Whenever I ask anyone if they are worried for their job, they say no. Everyone’s business is going well. And everyone’s finances are just fine. Apparently.
Are they lying? Are they in denial? Or are most people in Vancouver doing just fine?
My gut tells me that the recession is going to hit Vancouver hard. And while no one wants it to happen, or while people think it won’t happen… it will. I think it is better to be prepared than to be proud.
Here are my rinky-dinky tips in this economy
1. If you are a store owner or a business owner, discount your prices. People don’t want sales, they want deep price cuts. Better to make less profit than no profit at all, right? And let people know about it. Don’t be ashamed.
2. Bring your lunches to work rather than eating out. I can post a nice chicken noodle soup recipe if anyone is interested. Soup is a great way to bring a healthy lunch to work.
3. Check your car. Take anything out of it that can weigh it down or waste gas. And check your tire pressure. You’d be surprised how many people drive on flat tires and waste dollars worth of gas every day. And drive less if you can!
4. If you must drink, drink at home vs. drinking out. It’s so so much cheaper.
5. Avoid buying new clothes or shoes/accessories. You probably don’t need them at this exact moment in time. Personally I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing since November, and before that sometime in June.
6. Hold underground dinner parties instead of big parties at a fancy restaurant. My friend Jess clued me into this one. There are a number of caterers and chefs holding “underground” dinner parties. Basically how it works is you get in contact with a chef who does this, and they prepare a set meal for you and your dinner party at a local rented space. You can bring your own booze! This is a great inexpensive way to have a nice meal with your friends out. I’m planning on doing one soon so I’ll let you know how it goes.
7. Start budgeting. If you don’t already have one, it’s probably a good idea to start a budget. There are so many great online resources to get you started.
8. Stop eating out, start eating in. It takes only 10-30 minutes to make a really good quick dinner. Why not? Consider cooking with less meat. It’s really expensive and it has a larger environmental footprint.
9. Haggle on prices. I do this all the time. There’s almost nothing you can’t get cheaper in the retail world. Cars, clothes, food, everything. I always ask for a discount. Perhaps a separate blog post on this later.
10. Travel locally. If you need to go on vacation, why not go somewhere near home! British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. From Tofino to Galliano, to Hornby, to Kelowna, and so much more… you’d be surprised how much neat stuff there is close to home! And consider opting for slightly further away destinations such as Apex or Sun Peaks instead of Whistler. It’s cheaper and often the skiing/snowboarding is even better!
11. Switch to a credit card with a lower interest rate. You’d be surprised how much competition there is out there for credit cards.
12. Buy off Craigslist. I’ve bought just about everything through Craigslist and I can’t be happier. 50-90% what you would pay in stores. Sure, it may be used but you can often find like-new finds. And don’t forget to haggle. Whether it is apartment rentals, clothes, furniture, or electronics… Craigslist is always a good idea!
13. Drink free coffee at work instead of paying for name-brand coffee at Starbucks or Timmy’s.
14. Share/trade things with your friends. Games, movies, books, TV shows, clothes, booze etc etc… you’d be surprised how much stuff you can get for free just by doing this. And it’s a nice way to re-connect too.
15. And most importantly.. if you’re an employee, work hard at your job. Let your employer know through your work ethic that you are grateful for your job and you want to excel at your job. Make yourself a good investment.