10 Ways to survive the Budget and reduce spending that minimize damage to the Newfoundland and Labrador economy
The province is still reeling from Thursday’s budget. We made choices that got us to where we are and now we need to make choices to help us maintain our standard of living.
One legitimate concern, is that people will stop spending and when they do the economy will grind to a halt. Opportunity was lost in the boom times. Government squandered money this is true, however, a lot of the big bucks that were made by the workers was also squandered on wasteful spending. So before we point the finger all of us should do a little soul searching. The government tried to smartly invest. Our amazing tourism promotions, the much maligned Lower Churchill deal, oil on the West Coast and investments in Hebron, White Rose and Hibernia Southern Extension were all investments of our oil royalties that the government hoped would put in a much stronger position than we are now. The dream was to set Newfoundland and Labrador up as an energy provider and tourist destination to North America. Factors beyond our control in the international oil market have destroyed our cash flow. We need to pull up our socks and begin strategic spending. Here is a short list of spending decisions we can choose that will help us to maintain our standard of living without negatively affecting local businesses too much.
#1. Buy used. Whether it is a car or a TV, buying used means 100% of the money stays in Newfoundland as opposed to a very small percentage staying here if you buy from a big box store. People’s garages and basements are full of great and usable stuff. Use a free online listing service to sell your stuff and your family gets the money and someone else gets a deal + all the money stays in the province. Savings = Potentially $1000’s
#2. Travel in the province. Sure it is nice to travel to sunny destinations, however, I predict a great summer based on the spring weather so plan your holidays for the next couple years around the province. You will save money and most of your money will be spent in the province. Savings = Potentially $1000’s
#3. Downsize or just lower your expectations. No offense to people who want to live in a mansion or drive a fancy sports car if they can afford it. These are just places to live and a way to get around. Reduce the size of your vehicle and you have lower payments, less fuel, less maintenance costs and often less insurance. The same goes for your living space. Municipal taxes, insurance and the cost to furnish and heat your home are also reduced when you have a smaller space. Even the size of your TV. Bigger is just more of a good thing. When I was in Brazil the BIG TV that was advertised was 42 inches. How many people have to have the latest huge screen TV. I remember 20 inch TVs and that suited us just fine. Savings = Potentially $1000’s
#4. Choose less expensive but local restaurants. Now this is a little trickier. At the end of the day someone will suffer here however if you spread it around and try to be as local as possible then at least the local and innovative small restaurants will keep working away. This may cut into the margins of the prosperous restaurants but hopefully this part of the hospitality industry is not decimated. With increased tourism from our amazing and effective advertising, our new Convention Center (which opens this May and judging from this year’s bookings promises to be a large draw) and the lower Canadian Dollar hopefully this important part of our economy will be ok. Savings = Potentially $100’s-$1000’s depending on your lifestyle
#5. Don’t drive as much or take public transportation. If the objective is to get somewhere try to figure out the most affordable way to do it. Car pool – whatever works. Savings = Potentially $100’s
#6. Stop online shopping. This is a big one. If you cut your expenses just by stopping online shopping this would have no effect on the local economy. Do you really need that amazon purchase or another dress from that online site? If you need something buy it local otherwise just unsubscribe from all those sites. (including travel) Savings = Potentially $1000’s
#7. Stop big box store shopping – Very little of the money from a Big Box Store stays in Newfoundland. With the exception of staffing, which is relatively low paying. The rent and profits go far away. Even the goods are not sourced in Newfoundland (or Canada for the the most part) Again buy local. Savings = Potentially $1000’s
#8. Review your cell phone packages – Do your children really need what they have. Does your family need the latest in cell phone gadgetry. If you play hardball with cell phone companies they will almost always reduce your bill. Try exploring reducing features or just the number of devices you have. Any savings here will have very little effect on the province. Savings = Potentially $100’s-$1000’s
#9. Review your local telephone, television and internet. What do you need? What do you use? Can you cut here? Shopped around lately? Almost all savings here will have little effect on the province. Savings = Potentially up to $1000
#10. Just reduce waste. Extra driving? Spoiled food? Lights left on? Pack your children’s lunches? Replace empty calories with free stuff. Water instead of pop. This will help you be healthier and will also save the province in future health care costs. WIN – WIN. Small changes = big savings. Savings = Potentially $1000’s
In conclusion, by making small adjustments in behavior and buying local you can easily be no worse off . Reduce Spending Smartly. Start today! Let’s be positive and move forward together. We will not regret it.