The news has been scary lately. Crazy stock market plunges and surges, rising unemployment, and an unstable global economy make this a very scary financial market for average consumers. The news can’t be all bad, though, can it? There has to be a bright side to this craziness, right?
In an effort to stay positive, I’ve come up with five hidden benefits of the economic meltdown. Even the worst rain clouds can have a silver lining.
1. People are healthier in times of economic crisis.
No, really. According to a New York Times article from Oct. 6, people take better care of themselves in a bad economy. Studies suggest that people are more likely to engage in unhealthy, dangerous behaviors like excessive drinking, eating unhealthy food at restaurants, and overworking themselves during times of economic prosperity. People cooking more at home and spending less on things like alcohol during economic crisis, so overall well being improves.
2. Gas prices are lower.
As the stock market falls, so does the price of oil. According to an article at CNNMoney, gas prices have fallen 30% since the summer’s peak price. That means you’re paying less for your daily commute, which equals more money in your pocket for things like groceries.
3. Less travel and consumption is good for the environment.
Despite falling gas prices, consumers are still cutting back on unnecessary driving. Airlines announced yesterday that they’ll be cutting down on flights in the coming holiday months, which means higher ticket prices and less travel. While this may sound like bad news, it’s actually good for the environment. Less driving and traveling means less fossil fuel burned.
Consumers are cutting spending, and less consumption equals less waste. It’s bad for the economy and the retail industry, but good for the environment.
4. Desperate retailers offer better bargains.
Discretionary spending has dropped in the past year, but that means retailers are working harder to get your business. I’ve noticed a lot of great deals and lower prices at many stores in the past few months as they fight to drive more sales. With experts predicting dismal holiday sales, the bargains will probably continue through the Christmas season. Take advantage of the bargain prices, and you could end up saving on your holiday shopping.
5. People are paying closer attention to their finances.
During times of economic prosperity, a lot of people put their finances on autopilot. When you have plenty of money, there’s not as great a need to pay attention to what you’re spending. People are also more likely to spend on things they don’t need when the economy is doing well.
In the past few months, there’s been a surge in interest for good personal finance habits. People are paying closer attention to where their money is going by budgeting and tracking expenses. They’re also looking for ways to cut spending with frugal habits like couponing, shopping at thrift stores, using the library, and making fewer unnecessary purchases. It’s a shame that it takes a worldwide economic crisis to get people to pay closer attention to this stuff, but I’m glad to see it happen.
What other benefits have you seen from the economic slump?