How you can save money in the 2021 recession

on the road at night kerouac

For many, 2020 meant stimulus cheques, furlough payments and government backed funding. These measures in the face of a contracted economy and collateral destruction (read: the end of the small and medium business) has allowed people, during the virus and subsequent governmental crisis, to merely subsist in what was and remains, in every technicality, the worst recession on record.

In fact, the World Bank already named the recession after the pandemic itself: the “Covid-19 pandemic”.

Will there be a recession in 2021?

Yes. The World Bank’s projections show reductions in growth across the board.

“The COVID-19 recession is singular in many respects and is likely to be the deepest one in advanced economies since the Second World War and the first output contraction in emerging and developing economies in at least the past six decades.” 

World Bank Prospects Group Director, Ayhan Kose

And according to The Balance – the Covid-19 Recession was also worse that the Great Depression itself . Unfortunately, this is where the 2021 recession may well be heading now – beyond a recession, but into a depression which affects human capital, employment and supply chain reduction. The effects of this overall are enough to create an economic contraction.

The 2020 recession is expected to be the worst recession since the Great Depression. In April 2020, it was already worse than the 2008 recession.

The Balance

So how can you stay ahead and save money during a global depression? For those on low or no income, the task is nigh-on impossible without support (which is why no-string welfare systems are so important). If you’re lucky enough to have at least one source of income, then you still have options as long as you have the discipline to not spend anything beyond your bills; but even then, the money you need might not stretch out enough. It is for scenarios such as these, where inequality goes by unsolved for generations, that the concept of UBI, or Universal Basic Income, becomes key.

Disclaimer: we don’t provide financial advice, these are just ideas. If you need advice, consult a professional.

Prepare all your own food, buy and store in bulk

If you’re not doing this already – where have you been throughout the 2010s? Food prep is the new, well, way to eat.

There are also a load of kids on YouTube that do food prep for bulking / muscle building – just do a quick search and you’ll find tonnes of videos. Same goes for people who want to save money and challenge their subscribers and viewers to shop on the least amount of money possible.

So where do you start if you want or need to shop on a budget? This might be for you:

Cut and merge any subscriptions that are essentially the same services

Bills that you choose and bills that you need to live (shelter, energy, water, health) are different. Totally different. If you’re privileged enough to have a large number of subscription services on top of your bills, you can easily save yourself between $20 – $100 a month, or up to $1,200 a year. An example might be paying for Netflix, Disney+, Prime and cable.

So many people have cut out the fat and now just rely on one entertainment subscription and / or use YouTube – it’s easy, and you can do it too. Do you really need 5 different entertainment subscriptions? You probably don’t. And if you’re doing any Zoom cinema nights / co-watching, there’s a good chance you can share subs with friends and watch shows online together. Are there any all-included-no-data-eating deals on any of your other existing services? Some cell or mobile phone networks include Spotify and Netflix with their subs without touching mobile data – would this kind of cellular setup ultimately save you money?

And how about the gym – what’s stopping you exercising at home, with friends, or outside? Think about your reasons carefully.


We’ve long lost the skills to forage and recognise food in the wild. Yes it’s kind of primal – but it’s also an essential skillset that you owe to your own humanity. (You also need to check you aren’t breaking any conservation rules). Nonetheless, if foraging isn’t your style, you could make like an early Sophia Amoroso and go freegan (dumpster diving). This is getting harder and harder to do as so many are now doing it… and in some places, it can get dangerous. As retail stores and cafes donate their food to food banks, the freegan trend is dying in exchange for a centralised / regulated form of free food provisions, if only to help keep people safe. If you need to use a food bank, don’t be ashamed.

Why shouldn’t you be ashamed? Because the goal is to keep yourself going, to keep your money, and to survive. There is no shame in that.

Fix things, don’t buy new

Sometimes, you have to really, really laugh at being “sustainable” and “zero waste” – for a lot of people around the world, this is an authentic way of life, and not just a privileged lifestyle choice.

Throwing things away that could be repaired in about 30 seconds – or buying things at a slightly higher expense so that it is literally leveraged against the wear and tear of time – make clear economic and personal sense when you’re trying to save and accumulate your resources.

Live minimally and frugally so you can save

YouTube and the world are awash with people who spent 5-10 years saving big chunks of money by themselves, by living frugally and with discipline – not bad when you can see figures like $50,000 – $100,000 in your bank account. Here is how some do it:

And maybe you can set a goal like this, too.

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