When times get tough, the tough (usually) get working.
This time around, our government wants to save us from our over-consumption with more debt – but on the individual level, people are looking for ways to cut costs, save more money, and earn an income. For all intents and pursposes, we’re probably looking at another long period of economic contraction: Anyone who is sitting around waiting for the stock and housing markets to “get back to normal” are in for a rude awakening. The bubble that’s been popped can’t be considered normal at all, and its unlikely that we’ll see such a wild growth in speculative wealth again in this lifetime.
The parallels to the 1930s aren’t just for shock value or headlines that get up-voted and passed around social media pages. We’ve got a very similar debt bubble in the private sector, and jobs are vanishing daily by the tens of thousands. There have been runs on bank deposits and panics in the financial sector: All of the signs are pointing to a long economic winter. In fact, we’ve probably just seen the first frost of what promises to be a harsh season.
So rather than focus on what went wrong, let’s take a look at how we’ve responded to such situations in the past.
Consumption Deflation Spiral – When you realize that you’ve spent too much money, the initial reaction is simple: Stop buying stuff. Rather than putting another latte on the credit card, an individual might save up some of their paycheck and put it in a savings account (or these days, under a mattress).
Unfortunatly, as good a solution as this is on the individual level, it can create its own macroeconomic problem as the loss of demand for consumption translates into lower business sales & earnings.
Grow Your Own Money – This is my favorite solution, and it brings us back to the title of this post. Backyard gardens exploded in popularity in the 1930s – and this phenomenon persisted and gained momentum until the end of World War II in 1945. In many ways, WW2 was an extension of the great depression – its geo-political roots rose up in the rut of economic stagnation and protectionist trade policies designed to keep out “unfair competition.”
Forget that nonsense, and stop waiting for a law to get your own income back on track to growth!
If you’ve got a green thumb, its a great time to head outside – enjoy the sunshine – and get digging. The victory garden brought independent income to the American household, and it helped offset declining wages and global economic slowdowns. If you’re like me and you can grow peppers & onions, maybe it is a good idea to start tending some digital gardens online. There’s a lot of similarities:
- Low Investment – It doesn’t take a lot of cash to get started with a garden or a website. Fifty or a hundred bucks worth of soil & seeds or hosting & domains can get you through a whole season (year) or building an extra source of income. You don’t need licenses, lawyers (hopefully), or investors – you need to stick to it and get the work done.
- Labor Intensive – This is the flip side of low investment: your financial return on the effort is based on the amount of labor and effort you put in. If you don’t weed the garden or clean up spam on your website, the yield is probably going to decline. But if everything is well watered and well maintained, it is likely that you’ll have value growing out of nothing.
- Revenue Flow – When the site or plants start to flower, all you have to do really is keep them alive and well-fed with new content or nutrients. At that point, yield becomes a fairly regular and predictable unless something random and unexpected happens. While a specific advertising sector may dry up (drought) or become flooded with competition, the website biz allows you to diversify. Where one farm could completely fail due to odd weather or a spreading infection, a half-dozen websites are unlikely to all go down to zero at once.
- Make What You Need – When the sun starts setting, you can stay out and put an extra few hours in – or you can just call it a day. While you can’t eat Adsense or affiliate checks, people are still glad to trade dollars for veggies. If you need more, you can work more – if you have enough, its time for a well-deserved break.
Remember though, making money isn’t all sunshine and roses. It can be a dirty job and the bugs like to bite when you’re much more worried about slogging through what needs to get done.