How to survive the coming recession (and live to tell the tale)

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Potatoes. There, I’ve said it. You’re welcome.

When things go sideways, as they inevitably do in capital and labour markets everywhere from London to Lower Jibib, you can’t go wrong by stockpiling spuds.

After all, money’s no good anymore. Gold, silver and other precious metals are in shockingly short supply. And guaranteed investment certificates are only just suitable for burning in derelict oil barrels.

But a good, old-fashioned Russet or Shepody is a friend for life, or at least for the duration of the next, great “downturn” which, if the pundits are right, should be arriving with typical punctuality any day now.

Here’s another hedge against the coming recession: toilet paper.

Laugh while you can monkey boys and girls, but a handy stash of T-P will stand you well when you can no longer afford to replace your threadbare Armani suits and little black faux-leather dresses with genuine cloth.

“The results from the tenth annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress contest are in,” writes Mary Gillen for the Huffington Post’s Bridal Guide. “Every ply is perfect on these runway-ready gowns. Contestants created stunning gowns, made from nothing but toilet paper, glue, tape and a needle and thread.”

In an economic meltdown, T-P is essential in at least one other way: Having reviewed the condition of your retirement savings plans, what else would you use to dry your tears?

Of course, in the words of Bob Dylan, “it’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there.” So, you’re going to need candles. Lots of candles.

They’re not just excellent sources of illumination on cold, furnace-absent, winter nights; when the heat goes out, you can use them to warm your tootsies under one of those metal-lined, conductive car blankets (if, that is, you were smart enough to buy one when pennies were falling from heaven).

And, on the subject of right-sizing, what about those three cars parked in the outsized driveway of your McMansion? Do you really need them for quick trips to the local bodega when you run out of smokes (something else, by the way, you can no longer afford to replace)?

Why not repurpose them as temporary living quarters for your brood of adult children who have either lost their jobs or can no longer pay for their higher educations? You will have already licked the heating problem (see the aforementioned candles-and-car blanket solution).

Meanwhile, you might consider abandoning your 6,000 square-foot digs, altogether – perhaps, to the scores of squatters, who used to be neighbours, suddenly milling around the periphery of your property like the cast of The Walking Dead. Buy yourself a “tiny house”. They’re all the rage these days.

According to designboom.com, “The size of a home varies around the world. While some families live in one-room huts, others live in gigantic homes that seem to never end. Whatever the case, homes tend to grow with their owners’ prosperity.

“Since 1970, the size of the average new American home has grown by 50 per cent. This growth trend is similar in most western countries.

“However, for every trend there is a counter-trend. In the case of home size, more and more people are choosing to live in small homes. Most downsizes opt for more modest quarters, while some homeowners take this trend to a new level, choosing to live in tiny homes (and we mean tiny!). These tiny homes can be as small as 90 sq. ft. complete with bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and living quarters.”

Naturally, under such cramped conditions, you’ll want to spend a good deal of your time in the great outdoors (and, apart from the zombies you’re likely to encounter, as a true Canadian don’t you just relish this prospect in mid-February?). So, you’ll need to craft an absorbing outside activity or two to occupy your mind.

I return to first principles. Go digging for winter tubers. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a few potatoes you missed during the fall harvest. At this point, they won’t be much good for eating.

Still, for pure entertainment value, they can’t be beat as you chuck them at the limousines of the one per-centers who travel up and down your burning, frozen street, slaking their thirst for pity in the new age of disaster tourism.

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