Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How do you cut corners during this time of economic crisis?

How are you saving/making money?

I hate to admit it, as I was feeling optimistic for a long time, but I'm feeling the pinch from our economy being in shambles. I've had to work really hard to keep a loose grip on "middle class" standard of living throughout the years. Or at least whatever you call that "class" that is above poverty - the ones that can afford to eat what they want and have a car & insurance, but could never afford to own a home. I fear things getting worse if this trend continues for (many?) years.

In the past I've always believed that in America you can always make more money by working harder / being inventive / creative. Lately it seems much more difficult as good jobs disappear and the general public is trying to save money, so less spending goes to support businesses who are hurting. I don't really know how that cycle ends, but I certainly hope that our next president actually creates tangible change (even if that's not in his power, at least help our government stop wasteful spending.)

And as much as I hate to add to the problem, I was forced to apply for a new credit card this month so that I can pay for my next cancer test (a 4k petscan) and the unexpected expense of some root canals (how on earth can dentistry be this pricey?!)
It makes me feel bad that I can not live within my means, but I live in a cheap apartment with a roommate and I eat as inexpensively as possible for not eating garbage (no junk food here! I <3 Trader Joes.)

The lease agreement for my car is almost up (January) and I've moved to a much more public-transportation friendly town (Portland, OR.) Once I turn in my car I'm saying good-bye (forever?) to the expense of monthly car payments, insurance and gas. That should certainly help my budget! I'm hoping that some of you have also cut corners somehow or found a way to make extra cash and would like to share your tips? As it turns out, my roommate has a Costco membership so the next time we do grocery shopping I will see if there are things I regularly buy that I could get in bulk cheaper there.

I certainly don't want to sound like a sob story, but with this scale of economic stress I don't think it should be a secret when you're having a tough time and need ideas! I plan on opening an Etsy shop in addition to my Ebay store next month to sell some handmade jewelry (like the domino pendants and things I make for example art around my site.) I also hope that I've been of service to you all with my angel policy allowing you to sell your handmade items created from my rubber stamps or molds.

As a business I'd like to expand the products I offer. If you have anything design-wise you're looking for in stamps, I'd love to hear it. (I've gotten a couple requests for Skulls and unusual art in domino sizes, so that is coming soon.) Also, I have an account with Ranger Ink, so in the future I may stock some of their products. They make the Tim Holtz ink pads, distress paints, stickles glitter glues and alcohol inks along with a variety of other neat stuff like UTEE. I'm not sure what people who are already shopping at my site would be interested in the most though. I may carry jewelry supplies like acrylic charms or domino size stampbord for making rubber stamped jewelry. Do you have a product in mind that seems to fit in with my site?

It's been a hard week, the signs of businesses cutting back and people in need is tremendous. Everyone in our apartment complex got a note on their door today from the Oregon Food Bank, which is in charge of donating non-perishable food to families in need. I quote their letter "With the economy at a low point and the cost of gas driving up prices, the number of families needing assistance has skyrocketed - as much as 30% in some areas." There are now collection barrels all over my neighborhood. I'm sure I don't need to mention the stock market, as I'm sure you've heard about that roller coaster ride and this crazy bail out plan... but my bank (WAMU) went under, so all my credit cards and savings accounts have turned into Chase. Others of my money market accounts have been on a steady decline since last year, when I was earning 5% + interest, but now is closing in on 1% (it can go negative) so I've gotta pull my money out :(

Even the big companies I buy wholesale or services from are making obvious cut-backs. Yahoo this week announced a 1,500 person lay off, the second mass-firing this year. The company I buy my mold compound from has cut back on their packaging materials (I don't mind, I hate excess paper waste) but it's gone from nice big boxes with smaller cases all contained inside, to everything dumped in a small box. Thankfully the prices of products have not gone up yet, but since my items are made of rubber I worry about the rising cost at some point.

Super sorry for the long post. I really needed to get it off my chest and it's hard feeling alone when you're scared. I hope that instead of being bummed, this will help spark your creativity on ways to deal with this financial problem effecting so many of us. I also hope that the bright minded people out there are working hard on new inventions, creative projects and alternative energy that will help put the USA back on the right track. We can be great, let's show em how it's done!

Next post will be fun, light hearted and artsy I promise!!!


ps. Anyone out there (on the west coast) have independent dental insurance? (Any coverage you bought on your own, independently of a job or health insurance?) I can't find anyone who will let me sign up without also applying for health insurance (which I can't, cause I'm classified "uninsurable" due to the cancer, so I can only get government high risk pool health care - no dental.)


iluvlucy8 said...

There is no problem with you telling it like it is. So many people are struggling right now. For the time being my family is going without medical insurance to make ends meet. It's just one of those things. Right now I'm helping a friend who had knee replacement surgery so we are alright financially at least temporarily. I really do pray for sales for you because I so admire your talent. My ebay sales are up and down and I have an etsy shop too, but even though my sales are slow there I consider it my main shop. I think etsy is a great outlet, albeit there may be a few tricks to getting sales there.I do wonder if the economy is ever going to recover.

I would love skull themed dominos or anything Halloween themed. I am a Christian with very pagan taste. LOL

Samantha said...

Things have been really rough for me and I really appreciate the honesy. The past several months I have been really depressed as I was taking the lack of sales personally.

Things have helped me are

1 to talk to people online and work out trades instead of spending money on things I want.

2 I quit selling on Ebay, the fees had gotten so high and the sales so slow that I was loosing money on Ebay every month.

3 I have really cut back on shoping for stuff for myself and will try to map out my erands so that I am not spending nearly as much gas running around.

4 I sign up for coupons to be emailed to me for the stores that I shop at regularly.

5 I eat a lot more cheap foods such as minute rice. top ramen, pasta that fill you up

6 If we are going to go see I movie I check out the discount theaters first (we just got two in my area that have $2 and $3 movies and the $2 theater has $1 Tuesdays) If we go see a movie at a full price theater we always go to a matinées which has the added benefit of having less kids.

7 I use swap bot to have something fun to look forward to in the mail without having to spend money on things.. There are some great people on there that like to swap.

8 I have tried advertising online with little success. And will ask if they are interested in a trade of art for the space if possible.

9 work with other etsy people and create samples with advertising on them and send them to other Etsy people (when they make a sale they will include your sample with the item that was purchased)

I am so hoping that when we get a new president picked that people will feel more comfortable about the economy and things will pick up.

I would love love love to see more goddess with animal molds and would be thrilled to see the following animals done with women otter, bat ( I so want a lady and bat mold!), cat, spider (I have had alot of requests for this one), tiger, crow, raccoon. elephant (I think this one would go over really well!),monkey/gorrilla, moose.

If you ever do the otter, elephant or bat I will be the first in line for one!

EnchantedGal said...

Wow! Thank you for the great ideas! I hadn't thought about trades and I'm going to look up swap bot and see what's it's about. I ran into the freecycle.org website while looking up ways to recycle or donate things around the house you don't need. (Apparently people swap cool stuff like sewing machines and old furniture, each city has its own group of people who post stuff there.) I think as time goes by it will become more and more common for everyone to trade goods instead of money. I have a lot to think about, as I can see that being very positive.

I agree about Ebay... I've had my store for many years and I hate to think of closing it... but it's rarely profitable. Most months I barely break even after their crazy fees. I was surprised to hear that they are now totally banning mailed payments. It wouldn't be so bad if there were a (good) alternative to PayPal.

Anyways, thank you both for replying. It's certainly a hard time for everyone, don't take it personally :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

I recently received word of a new site for artists to sell their work on it is called shophandmade.com and is, I believe, an offshoot of addictedtorubberstamps.com Supposedly there is no fee to set up an online store there. I looked into Esty but did not feel it was right for me. I am considering a site called dollpile.com as a way to sell my art dolls. If anything comes of it I will let you know. I am sending this as anonymous because, as I am embarrased to admit, I am not computer savy enough to know how to go about logging on the other ways. I love your stuff, and even though I haven't bought for a while because I have been pursuing silk fabric dying I am glad to hear from your blog that you are in remission. I keep you in my prayers. Best regards, Alice, Whimze@aol.com

Lindsay Mason said...

Hi Kimberley, I just found your beautiful website and blog. I'm a fellow stamp designer from the UK and can assure you that things are, unfortunately, just the same here. Life seems to be just one long round of paying bills and then trying to eke out the money till the bills start coming through the door again, so I absolutely know how you feel. It really IS a scary time.
On the upside, at least here in the UK, the craft industry is pretty healthy in as much as people seem to be relying on their crafting time to relieve the stresses that are hurting all of us. True, a lot of smaller craft stores have closed down this last year, but they were mainly the ones which had "jumped on the bandwagon", so it's almost been a kind of weeding out process. Hopefully, we can all ride out the storm...at least the fact that we are ALL in the same boat can be regarded as some kind of comfort!
I'll keep looking in on your blog and hope that things improve for us all very soon. All the best, Lindsay Mason