What’s “Recession-Proof” in Your Budget?


Candy is "recession proof" for many consumers.

Photo by terren in Virginia via flickr, under the Creative Commons License.

According to this New York Times article published Monday, candy is one of those rare consumer goods that isn’t affected by economic downturns; consumers will still buy their chocolate bar in good times and bad. Like Wal-mart, bankruptcy attorneys, and booze, candy is a “recession proof” business.

Granted, the article didn’t distinguish between was the sales of mass-produced candies, like Hershey bars (mmmm) and tootsie rolls (eeeeeh), and fine designer chocolates that can cost upwards of four dollars for a chocolate bar (don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the Whole Foods candy aisle and you’ll see what I mean). Will people still be frequenting stores like Sucre, in New Orleans, Marie Belle in NYC, or ACKC in DC? That remains to be seen.

But what really caught my attention wasn’t the news about candy – it got me thinking about my own personal “recession proof” items. Because despite tough economic times, there are some things I’ll always pay a little more for. Here, in no particular order, is my own list of “recession proof” items:

Jenna’s Recession-Proof Goods

Wine. Okay, I said these were in no particular order, but this is totally top of the list. I love drinking it, I love reading about it, and I love discovering good bottles that I can actually afford. Wonk the Plank probably thinks I spend too much on wine, but, well, what’s the point of living without being able to indulge in a glass of Sauvignon blanc?

Brand-name flour. I guess as an “indulgence” this is one only costs a couple of dollars, but after reading enough baking cookbooks that sing the praises of different types of flour and will spell out how the protein content and types of wheat differ among each brand, I try to get the good stuff. Usually, I buy Gold Medal or King Arthur flour.

Puffins. No, they are not the cheapest cereal – when they’re not on sale it’s around $5 for a tiny box of them that doesn’t quite last the week. But they’re high fiber, wheat-free and just sweet enough to be completely addicting. If I wanted to save money, I’d go back to eating oatmeal.

Nice Hair and Face Products. I’ve tried so many times to cut back in this area, and I always fail. Granted, it’s not like I buy $300 face cream, or anything, but I spend a relatively good chunk of change on my products. However, whenever I buy the cheaper stuff I always regret it and pay my penance in frizzy hair and breakouts. So I’ve stopped trying to get the cheaper stuff, because I always end up caving and buying my usual products before I’ve used all the cheaper items. It’s a vicious cycle.

Nice Jeans. I used to buy jeans at the GAP and Old Navy, where they would cost under $50 a pair. But that’s before my friend talked me into buying my first pair of Sevens – $145 later, I was in love. For me, that’s a huge amount of money to spend on a pair of jeans, but dear god, they just looked and felt so much better than my other jeans. I could never go back. I’d rather buy jeans less frequently, than buy more pairs of cheaper jeans that won’t look as good.

Wonk would tell you that there are more items on this list, and there probably are. But I’d rather hear about you: what will you never stop splurging on? What’s “recession proof” in your budget?



  1. Alice said

    Oh god, Sevens. I miss those. I think my recession proof items are… my cell-phone, the internet, and ice-cream. I haven’t been able to do much clothes shopping lately anyway.

  2. moderndomestic said

    Sevens are the best. Yeah, I guess internet and cable aren’t completely necessary and would also be on the list – although since Dave and I split the package it’s more affordable. When I was living on my own I only used the free dial up from the UW, and it really sucked.

    I also wonder what the price differential is between a cell phone and a land line these days. Like Wonk pays around $30/month for a land line, and I pay $40/month for my cell phone – although it’s more like $50/month with all the damn fees they add on top of the bill. Although, if I were really trying to save money I’d do all my calling through Skype . . .

  3. wonktheplank said

    Wonk the Plank is a sucker for expensive clothing as well, especially shoes. We also like our subscription to the Washington Post that Modern Domestic got us for Christmas.

    The Wonk the Plank land line is about $45 with taxes and bs fees, so a cell phone would be just as cheap, if not cheaper if we picked one that’s pay by the minute style.

  4. moderndomestic said

    Really? I didn’t realize that your land line was so expensive. It makes me feel better about having my cell phone. Although I also save money by having an ancient Nokia phone that I haven’t replaced in four years and that barely gets text messages . . . I would be spending more if I had, say, an I-phone with it’s $75/month cell/internet service.

    At least you buy most of your expensive clothing at Filene’s . . . once I’ve saved up enough for the new computer maybe I’ll check out Loehmann’s.

  5. Martha said

    1. Reliable high-speed internet. Walt and I have Speakeasy, which is much more expensive than Comcast or Qwest but we never have down time or other asshattery that you get with the big companies. We watch TV shows and movies over streaming Netflix (graciously annually gifted by Walt’s Aunt Laura).

    2. Food. I require nice tomatoes, good cheese, all natural/organic meat, fresh-squeezed orange juice and quality coffee beans. I don’t go out for coffee much, but we always have good stuff at home. Of course, food costs are alleviated by my 10% TJ employee discount and Walt’s 20% (!) Whole Foods employee discount.

    3. $50 haircuts. This is a new thing. I recently got a foot of hair chopped off at a nice salon (Derby). My new style is going to require regular maintenance and I’m not willing to go back to the Rudy’s/Borseno’s hack jobs.

    4. Bras. I’m a 36D. Cheap ones don’t cut it.

  6. Deb Doyle said

    I’m with Wonk on the good shoes. I log about 2 miles a day in work, covering 31,000 square feet, so it’s Clarks or Franco Sarte loafers for me!

    Land line, I have one in the condo, but it’s VOIP through Vonage, and I only pay about $20/month for it. I have Verizon cell service, which is about $45 a month after fees, but every 18 months I can get a new phone for free provided I renew for another 2 years (which I always do), or I can get $50 towards a better phone, such as a blackberry, etc.

    I forgo the expensive hair salon now, as my style doesn’t require a lot of skill, but if I want to dramatically change it, I will go to a more upscale salon.

    High Def TV and HS internet are neccessary.

    Good bread, beer (hey, I’m Irish after all!), I won’t cheap out on, same with deli lunch meat for our lunches. We brown bag lunch everyday, so still save significant money even with purchasing Black Bear deli meats and cheeses.

    And like Martha, a good bra is not where you want to buy cheap, especially for us more well endowed women!

    And lastly, a good shampoo, because it really does make a difference, and a little goes a very long way! Enjoy your day everyone!

  7. Rebecca said

    My number one is Avon. I’m addicted to all things Avon, love it! Actually I don’t need internet and through the fault of Verizon we didn’t have internet at home for about a month. No dial-up either because Verizon also terminated our land line. I can do without that too. But not cable TV. I need my cable news shows and other stuff I’m afraid to admit that I watch. Finally I cannot seem to stop myself from buying plants for my yard. I just love planting and growing things, especially when I am stuck at home with no place to go because I am trying to be frugal.

  8. Joanne said

    1. Cable. I feel very guilty about this, but it’s true. I love t.v.
    2. DVR. People say that if you’re not home to watch t.v., you must be doing something more interesting. Um, my 1 1/2 hour commute home is not more interesting than American Idol.
    3. The occasional meal out. I can’t give it up. Even something as simple as a burger at Wendy’s just makes my heart sing, it’s very pathetic.

    So, my list isn’t very interesting and I can’t really say my cell, b/c well, my parents pay for it (yes, I’m married and 27-years old), and we don’t have a land line. I can’t really say internet, b/c my husband’s work is heavily web-related and he continues to work at home at night and on the weekends. So both of those are more necessities.

  9. moderndomestic said

    I feel torn about TV. I love it so much, and yet when I really think about it I spend SO MUCH TIME watching COMPLETE CRAP on Bravo. We did a no-TV week a couple weeks ago and it was nice. We played checkers, we chatted, we read, I made Peeps. It was good. So I dunno. Maybe we should also get the DVR and then I wouldn’t be watching reruns of The Real Housewives of New York City all the time.

  10. Kaydee said

    I hear you on jeans. I never knew my ass could look so good til I bought a pair of Lucky Jeans for more than $100.
    Chocolate is on my list. And food (I am trying to reduce spending but can’t seem to do it for food). I’m going out to eat less, but I was already trying to do that despite being out of work soon.
    What I cut out is books and travel. Well… most books (thanks to my Amazon Credit Card for keeping the book addiction going!)

  11. Kaydee said

    High speed internet is also something I will never cut… DSL was so slow, I’m totally jaded and spoiled now 😉

  12. Overpriced ‘Do
    I’m with Martha on $50 dollar haircuts. Even though I only cut my hair once or twice a year, I do feel guilty enough to keep it a secret from my baby daddy.

    Internet on my phone is another one. This really adds up, but it makes the commute so much more productive.

    I will buy basil. Anytime, anywhere.

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