Here's how to weather the downturn and take advantage of the tough times in 2009.
Look for the next great stock investments. Not only can you pretty much count on next year being one of lousy economic growth, you can for sure count on Barack Obama being president. And there are a few stocks out there that could get a boost from an Obama administration, including Chesapeake Energy (natural gas) and AeroVironment (aerial vehicles for Afghanistan). Also, keep an eye out for "growthy" (high earnings growth) small stocks, especially techs, which often are the first ones to rise when a new economic expansion nears. Hey, the recession can't last forever, right?
Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. Since almost everyone's budgets are strained right now, cutting back is en vogue. Pollster John Zogby has found that a growing segment of the population has become more focused on spiritual fulfillment than on material success. Similarly, futurist Faith Popcorn's research shows that the concept of "frugality" has taken hold among families, with parents increasingly teaching their children to reconsider how much they consume and whether they could do with less. The "new frugality" movement, as she calls it, will usher in a new set of values for the next generation, she says.
Negotiate almost everything. From credit cards to clothes, companies are open to making deals as they struggle to keep customers. "If you're a good customer, [credit card companies] may be more apt to negotiate your rate because they don't want to lose you," says McHenry of IndexCreditCards.com. At farmers markets and clothing boutiques, simply asking, "Can I get a discount?" can lead to a lower price. Paying with cash increases the chances of making a deal because it allows retailers to avoid credit card transaction fees.