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What Are the 5 Things You Can't Live Without—Even During the Recession?

March 30, 2009
by Rachel Balik
Sure, we’re all cutting back, but there are some things we just can’t give up. We highlighted five things still worth spending money on: Readers responded with their own non-negotiables. Tell us yours by answering the question within the article below.

Your Mental and Physical Well-Being

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Inevitably, 2008’s battle cry of “Yes, We Can!” has faded into “But How and When?” Giddy enthusiasm has become disgruntled apprehension as the financial crisis drags on. It’s hard to stay positive in such an atmosphere, but you can beat “recession depression” if you’re willing to invest time, energy and maybe a little bit of money. For example, don’t rush to cut gym membership out of your budget, if you can still afford it. Exercise improves self-esteem, provides mood-lifting endorphins and can prevent illness or other health problems.

If you’re truly depressed, seeing a therapist is going to benefit you more in the long term than saving cash now. On the off chance we don’t fix this whole mess by next week, get the help and support you need to weather the storm and put your best foot forward.

Health Insurance

One major way to maintain well-being is by purchasing health insurance. It might seem utterly ridiculous when you’re well. You haven’t had a cold since last year, why put money down the drain every month? However, whether you’re perfectly healthy or have specific medical concerns, choosing the plan with the cheapest premium is rarely prudent. The New York Times explains the difference between H.M.O.s (health maintenance organizations), P.P.O.s (preferred provider organizations) and H.D.H.P. (high-deductible health plan). Learn about the pros and cons of each, and determine which plan suits you best.

Talk to doctors about the insurance they accept. List services you’ll need so you can determine how a particular plan will provide for them. Then, you can effectively compare the total cost of each plan that is available to you. Consult the findingDulcinea Health Web Guide to discover what is available, how to research value, and what questions to ask to help you make the most-informed decision.

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Organic Food

The organic food hype has come and gone, and for many environmentalists, eating local is seen as a greener choice than eating organic. Now that money is tight for many, it may seem silly to keep buying organic; organic products can sometimes be double the price of regular products. But at the end of the day, pesticides are still bad for you. The Discovery Channel’s Planet Green names seven foods you should buy organic if at all possible. The list includes fruits like peaches, strawberries and bananas, as well as basics like rice and milk, which can be pesticide-heavy when they’re commercially produced.

Dressing for the Job You Want

If you’ve been laid off, it may seem like a great opportunity to live your dream of spending the day in your favorite pajamas. Even if you’re working, the mood at the office might feel too somber for you to take care with your appearance. But if you do have money to spend, now is actually the perfect time to purchase clothing items that would otherwise have been out of your budget, because they’re all going on sale. A classy wardrobe will help you make the right impression with current or prospective employers.

The time is also right to purchase pricey but long-lasting items. Lots of luxury stores are having staggering sales. In an interview with Forbes magazine, a senior vice-president at Bergdorf Goodman suggested stocking up on “well-made quality basics.” In other words, now’s the time to invest in that Chanel suit you’ll be wearing for the next 20 years.

Your Connection to the World

Experts predicted that the recession would throw a wrench into the booming smartphone market, but it turns out that most people consider it essential to stay connected 24/7. The LA Times Technology blog noted that not only has interest in the mobile Web persisted, there’s a substantial increase in the number of people using smartphones to connect to social networking sites. The consensus is that if you’re job hunting in the 21st century, it behooves to you to have uninterrupted access to networking opportunities. Rather than constantly tying you to work, it actually frees you to go about your day without missing anything important, like a job posting, a networking panel or Facebook pictures of your sister’s new dog.
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