I have recently read a number of articles about the businesses which are being hit the hardest by the current downturn in US and well as the global economy. This got me thinking about the businesses that should be affected, even though apparently some of them aren’t.
Giant Gas Guzzling SUVs: Not only are they excessively expensive up front, but then there is the cost of the copious amounts a petroleum based fuel that they regularly consume. With all of the advancements in the world today, one of the car companies should be able to make a vehicle that seats eight, has room for a few suitcases, and still gets decent fuel economy. That manufacturer should clearly turn a huge profit provided that they sell the vehicle at a reasonable price to begin with.
With an ever growing family, I myself can assuredly see the desire to have a vehicle large enough for us all to comfortably feel secure, while still being able to tote our things to the places that we are going to. What I cannot see is why that vehicle needs to be two feet off the ground, have armor like a tank, and bumpers like I am entering a demolition derby. I do not need to have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) to drive a full-sized SUV, so why do they feel the need to make them like semi trucks? I would imagine that a lot of consumers are much more conscience of how much they spend each month on fuel than they were a few year ago. These consumers are, or at least should, not be buying massive cars with fuel economy ratings closer to single digits then the twenties.
Gyms and fitness centers: Any family that is trying to reduce debt, save for a large expense, or build an emergency fund, and pays a monthly fee to use a gym is really not doing all that they can. With a lot of former dual income families down to one income, and the number of people currently unemployed, I would really expect to see the parking lots at the fitness centers empty and the parks and recreational centers full. That is not the case where I live. I was just at the nature center today and could not believe how empty the walking trails were.
On the way home from the free park, I noticed an awful lot of cars in front of one of the local gyms, so I drove by to get a closer look. All of those people that were walking on the treadmills, could have saved a lot of money in reoccurring payments if they had walked the nature trails instead. Those paths go right by two large ponds where the air smells so fresh, and under the canopies of many trees. It has got to be a better environment then on a treadmill surrounded by sweaty people also using bulky, metallic treadmills and other equipment. I am told by a few friends that belong to a gym that they walk the trails when the weather permits, but they joined so that they can exercise on rainy days. I am told by others that they joined because the gyms have equipment that is either too big or too expensive for them to have in their own homes.
To those who cannot exercise when it rains, I would like to point out that malls are quite spacious and also allow you to walk around for hours on end without charging you a fee. As far as equipment goes, when times are tough, people need to find cheap or free solutions to more and more areas where they would normally throw money at the problem. Push ups, crunches, and squats should cover just about all of the major muscle groups. Isometrics can be done in a pinch or as a supplement to another exercise that you can do at home to replace that fancy gym equipment.
Concert Promoters and Vendors: I can certainly not look at my budget and see an extra $100 for any of the big band summer concerts. I can remember paying $22 for floor seats to see Metallica in 1989 (March 4 and July 11) and paying I think $18 for a shirt. I do know that I spent just over $100 on the show, but I bought one of every different design that they had. Those were the days. The last time Metallica came through, some of my friends paid $100 just for the tickets and I was told the shirts were $25 or $30 each.
I understand that college kids with little or no cost of living would have no problem shelling out that kind of cash to see a concert, but as a family man whose budget has been tightened by recent events in the US and across the globe, I will be left at home listening to the CD. The same can be said for sporting events. I do not think I could afford to buy a $3 soda and a $5 pizza. I certainly do not want to try to stretch the budget to accommodate $20 or more for a T-shirt with my favorite player on it, or the team logo. The official $200 and up game jerseys may not get back into my budget for years.
Luxury hotels: On a recent trip to visit family, I drove past a few resort hotels. You know the fancy hotels that you stay at when you are on vacation. They have pools and dance floors and other amenities. What they do not have is a frugal way to vacation. Those places are not as expensive as going to Hawaii, Europe, or other far off destination, but there are many, many cheaper places to take a vacation.
It would not be fair to say that everyone who is barely staying ahead should not take a vacation at all. As long as you are not paying late fees because you are choosing a family trip up the coast, or wherever you are going, over paying your utilities on time, I do not see anything wrong with a short trip here or there. I know a lot of families where one of the parents has been laid off have said that this is the most convenient time to take a vacation that they have had in years. Most of the cars parked in front of the resort hotels could probably be visiting family that they haven’t seen in a while and saving a lot of money at the same time.
During a recession, I would think that a family vacation would be done with as minimal cost as possible. I do not think everyone would want to pitch a tent or stay at a KOA campground, but those are both excellent choices to cut costs, and make the trip more unique and hopefully more memorable. I will say that instead of renting a beach house, now is the perfect time to either stay with family or in a nice little hotel. Also spending quality time visiting at a relative’s home, or meeting in a park would not only be cheaper than a lot of other activities and it will also allow a lot more conversation and catching up.
When there are businesses thriving that shouldn’t be during difficult economic times, is it really a wonder that we find ourselves with difficult economic times in the first place?