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How to Make a Weak Economy Work Best for You


The U.S. economy is sliding down a slippery slope, and no one knows for sure when it will hit bottom. Already, between record high gas prices, the housing slump and rising costs for food, we've all felt the effects.

But a weak economy, even a pending recession, does not have to be all bad.

With a bit of ingenuity, you can actually turn this lemon into lemonade, and here's how.

buying a new tv

Thinking of buying a new TV? Surround-sound system? Fitness equipment? You may be able to negotiate a better deal when the economy is sluggish.

1. Haggling is now acceptable.

Whereas retailers wouldn't think of haggling over prices when the economy is robust, when the economy is sluggish, it's fair game. This means that if you have been eyeing a big purchase, such as a riding lawnmower or high-definition TV, now may be the time to get a good deal. Stores that are open to price negotiations include Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot and many others.

2. Interest rates have been cut.

Which means now may be a good time to refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage. Generally speaking, if you have good credit and a FICO score of at least 680, you may be able to benefit. You may also benefit from switching your credit cards over to one that is tied to short-term interest rates.

buying or selling a home

You can find some great deals on a house right now ... as long as you can secure a loan (and sell your current home, if you have one).

3. You can still travel.

Just do so within the United States, as the dollar is at very weak levels, making international travel very expensive. So if you have some extra cash, now is a good time to explore the 50 states.

4. You can get a great deal on a house.

Home prices are at near record lows, and sellers are throwing in great incentives to move their properties. If you are looking to buy, it is definitely a buyer's market. That said, you will be facing stricter financing policies to get a mortgage, and if you own you will likely have a hard time selling your current home.

5. You can justify moving back home.

Home, as in, with your parents. This is obviously a last resort for most of us, but when times are tough, it is certainly more socially acceptable to pool your resources with your parents. According to one financial planner, Kim Foss Erickson, she has never seen so many older children depending on their parents financially than she has in the last six months.

"This is not like, 'OK, my son just graduated from college and needs to move back in' type of thing," she told the Associated Press. "These are 40- and 50-year-old children of my clients that they're helping out."

So if you're having trouble making ends meet, moving in with mom and dad may help you get back on your feet.

6. You can look for a recession-proof job.

Certain businesses will thrive no matter what the economy is doing, so if you feel your job is currently in jeopardy, focus on finding work in one of these solid industries:

  • Health care

  • Education

  • Energy

  • Environmental

  • Security

  • International business

Recommended Reading

The Six Most Recession-Proof Businesses

Should You Invest in Gold and Silver?


U.S. News & World Report September 18, 2007

Yahoo Tech

MSN Money

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