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No. 1: Less Junk Mail Thanks to the presumptive recession, many of us have recently glimpsed the back of our mailboxes for the first time in years. According to the Chicago-based research firm Mintel Comperemedia, credit card direct mail volume has dropped 19 percent since last October.Last year, credit card issuers cut their mailings to current customers by nearly one-third (30 percent). That will free up delivery space for the junk mail we enjoy receiving -- coupons.
No. 2: Shorter Gas Lines Ever since gas topped the magical $4 tipping point, you can fill up, wash the windows, check the oil, enjoy a leisurely roller-cooked hotdog and a 32-ounce giant gulp, and even grab a power nap before the next customer appears in your rearview mirror.Can curb service of Red Bull and Slim Jims be far behind?
No. 3: Family Dinners Recessions tend to foster family mealtimes as the pin money that drives fast-food meals and overscheduled lives dries up. Nothing could be better for America, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Research has shown that family meals promote a healthier and more balanced diet, foster better communication and ward off teen suicide, eating disorders and substance abuse.
No. 4: More Coupons A February survey by Toronto-based ICOM Information and Communications found that 67 percent of Americans are likely to use coupons during a recession, regardless of their income.Traffic to online coupon sites is growing rapidly, with page views up 38 percent to 281 million in March compared to the previous year, according to the research firm comScore.
No. 5: Free Fitness As gas prices skyrocket, alternative modes of transportation are once again gaining traction. When you ride a bike, walk to the bus stop or hoof it to the train station to commute to work, you get a free workout along with saving gas money.Throw in a little cardio and add some upper body and you can save the $35 to $40 a month that CostHelper.com estimates we spend on average for a fitness club membership.
No. 6: Bargain SUVs Not all prices go up in a recession. Case in point: gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. Once gas approached the $3.50 mark, prices of new and used SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans plummeted.Ford and GM recently announced plant closures and production cuts at their truck and SUV facilities in response to the swift public migration to fuel-efficient compacts and hybrids. If you've long coveted an SUV, make your move now.
No. 7: Business Opportunities Entrepreneurial startups by laid-off and downsized employees, managers and executives often help get the economy growing again.Recessions are a great time to open your own shop: Wages are down, rents are cheaper, competition is scarce and the cost of goods and services can be found at a discount. There's no better time to become your own boss.
No. 8: Growth in Gardening It's the perfect time to get back to nature. Bid your lawn service adieu and put your mind and body to work tending your grounds yourself.The benefits are numerous. Regular gardening provides cardio and strength training, improves flexibility and relieves stress. These health benefits help fight heart attack, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.What you grow also encourages a healthier diet. And the money you save by mowing, raking, pruning and mulching yourself will more than pay for your equipment, fuel and next year's plantings.
No. 9: Musical Inspiration Do economic downturns inspire great music? A case can be made that hard times help produce heartfelt anthems that cut through the anesthetic musical drone of the day. This has been true of everyone from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen to the Clash and even Kurt Cobain.Given the current state of popular music and its obsession with an affluence that is quickly disappearing, the climate would seem right for the emergence of new artists who can rekindle passion and urgency in American music.
No. 10: New Perspectives Perhaps the greatest boon of a recession is the time to reflect and reassess the true meaning and goals of our lives. For instance, it's doubtful that today's green movement would be where it is today without the small-is-beautiful mental reset of the '70s. We may not be the ideal stewards of the planet yet, but we're making progress. Temporary setbacks like recessions prompt our collective course corrections.