OPINION: Cutting costs builds communities

Money, money money. Everywhere the talk is money. Be it in times of boom, or economic downturn, a main focus in the lives of North Americans is how the next cheque is getting here, and more importantly when.
So when the market gives us a run for our cash, it’s time to cut the fun stuff like dining out, movies, and other costly expenditures. Which means no social life, right?
Hardly. Group coupons are just one way to save money and still have fun. Getting together with friends to collectively save money is exactly what economic hard times are about. Sure, you can’t go to that super posh five-star organic restaurant, or go wine tasting at your favourite chi-chi bar. But staying social is not only something attainable when strapped for cash, it’s actually easier.
A change in expectations is really all you need. Instead of going out for a movie at a theatre, stay in, rent,  and have as much junk food as you can bare; all for the same cost as just one movie ticket. Spend a day baking sensual foods with your partner, or have a house party.
Unless you’re absolutely bent on being a social hermit until the money returns, our economy is actually saving our communities.
More people are returning to community flea markets, breathing life back into our neighborhoods. Bicycle outings are being reborn, taking trips with friends to explore the city instead of a gas-guzzling drive.
Clothing swaps at post-secondaries such as MRU and ACAD are popping up, allowing another form of community to develop, as well as a great way to shop without the price tags. Materialism as a lifestyle is being put on the back-burner, while community crafts are coming back into favour.
Last year, an organization in the Netherlands released a study arguing our social communities are in dire need of a recession to deformalize infrastructures and start helping each other out. It beats paying for things like child care, birthday gifts, and a borrowed bar of butter.
Facing the plight of dusty bank accounts and penny-counting, communities are already beginning to band together. Sure, we may stay at home, but it’s way more fun when the rest of the neighborhood is there too.

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