There’s no question of whether or not we’re in a recession right now, and while some may debate the severity of this recession in comparison to the last major one, there are undoubtedly some parallels—something Next Avenue’s Elizabeth White highlights in her advice on planning for the next few months (or years).
Among White’s musings are actionable strategies that involve forecasting for future layoffs, anticipating age discrimination, and swallowing one’s ego in regards to labor worth and government benefits like unemployment.
White isn’t wrong. It’s exceptionally important to plan for the future as much as possible—even when that plan undergoes major paradigm shifts a few times a week, at best—and if you can reduce your spending at all, that’s a pretty major part of your planning that doesn’t necessarily have to be subjected to those weekly changes.
However, White also approaches the issue of a recession from an angle that assumes a few things about the audience—that they’re middle-aged, relatively established in their occupation, and about to be unemployed for years at a time. These are, of course, completely reasonable assumptions to make… But they don’t apply to a pretty large subset of the current workforce.
We’d like to look at a different angle, one from which everything is a gig, unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed, and long-term savings are a laughable concept at best.
White’s advice vis-a-vis spending is spot-on—cancelling literally everything you can to avoid recurring charges, pausing all non-essential memberships (yes, that includes Netflix), and downgrading your phone plan—it’s something that transcends generational boundaries.
In fact, it’s even more important for this generation than White’s because of how frail our savings accounts really are. This means that some of White’s advice—i.e., plan for being unemployed for years—isn’t really feasible for a lot of us.
It means that taking literally any job, benefit, handout, or circumstantial support that we can find is mandatory, regardless of setbacks. It means that White’s point of “getting off the throne” isn’t extreme enough—the throne needs to be abolished entirely, and survival mode needs to be implemented immediately.
We’re not a generation that’s flying all over the place for work, investing in real estate because it’s there, and taking an appropriate amount of paid time off because we can; we’re a generation of scrappy, gig economy-based, paycheck-to-paycheck-living, student debt-encumbered individuals who were, are, and will continue to be woefully unprepared for the parameters of a post-COVID world.
If you’re preparing to be unemployed, you’re recently unemployed, or you even think you might undergo unemployment at some point in your life, start scrapping your expenses and adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Anything goes.
Note: This article was originally published in August 2020.