For many Michiganders, collectibles are a fun and enjoyable part of our culture. We are blessed with a vibrant and enthusiastic sports culture. Red Wings jerseys, Lions jackets, and even the old school D Tiger’s hat represent the sports collectibles. We are also the Motor City. Die cast cars, models, posters, Auto Show paraphanelia, and other Made In Detroit enthusiasm makes up a very large part of our local culture. Factor in the science fiction and comic book collections popular everywhere, and the area is a collector’s paradise.
The nature of collectibles is twofold. First, we enjoy having the items that represent our passions. Daily reminders of what we enjoy, who we root for, or what we would like to one day own. Secondly, we hope these items will go up in value. They are “collectible”, after all. Many are bought with investment in mind.
Unfortunately, these collectibles are very market dependent. When times get bad for some, they’re usually bad for many. That die cast Corvette collectible owned and proudly displayed was worth $300. In the blink of an eye, eBay can suddenly have 50 of them being listed, all for the original market price of $14.99, and not getting any bids.
I was laid off from my long time automotive job in 2008. Fortunately, I had avoided all the job hopping prevalent in the boom times of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and had decent seniority and a decent severance package. Still, Michigan was reeling in recession and jobs were hard to come by.
Taking inventory of things I did not need, I began to sell things to prolong my family’s financial resources. Comic books were being listed on eBay for $1 each. Two years previously, some of these were $35 each, and a few rare ones even more. It was simply not worth my time to put them up for auction, and I was very disappointed that the things I thought were a collectible were so very market dependent. I got by, though, and got a great job weeks before my severance ended. The items I was able to sell were not collectibles, but items with actual utility, such as a snowblower, a trailer, and other functional items.
This lead me to rethink the very nature of my “collectibles”. While interesting and fun, they were not a hedge against inflation. They could not be counted on as a resource in times of emergency.
What, if any, collectibles or hobbies acted in an anti-economic way? As in, when the economy goes bad, what items increase in value? What skills become more in demand? I found a startling number of them.
Gardening: Gardening is a stress relieving, slow paced hobby. Learning the roots (pun intended) of many of the plants we eat, how foods are grown, and the myriad of details necessary for success, gardening is an involved and engaging activity. In an economic down turn when money is tight, a garden helps keep food on the table. Healthier than many store bought foods and better tasting, this single activity can directly and fundamentally make a family’s life better and help cushion economic factors.
Coin collections: Depending on the nature of coins one collects, the value of his collection can actually track in opposition to economy. As the economy weakens and the dollar’s value ebbs, the price of silver begins to rise. Just having “junk silver” can be a tremendous hedge against inflation, and can be a fun and rewarding hobby as the history of our currency and other countries’ currencies are explored.
Cartridge/Shotshell reloading: State and federal laws apply, but as times get worse, more people choose to become proficient in firearms. After researching the applicable laws and getting necessary permissions, mid-scale reloading of various caliber firearms can be a lucrative side business or even a primary business if times get tough. Having a decent amount of ammunition on hand helps with personal protection in an urban environment and sustainability in rural areas.
Vehicle repair: When the economy goes bad, people start fixing cars rather than buying new ones. Many people realize when an automobile will start requiring more frequent repairs, and often choose to sell at this point. In bad economic times, people hang on to their money a lot tighter and avoid a new loan. Learning vehicle repair may enable a person to seek alternate work as garages need to hire more people to keep up with the work load.
Medical caregiver: People continue to have accidents, need treatment, and take medication regardless of the economy. In fact, some while collar employees may find labor work as their jobs are made redundant. Unaccustomed to the extra exertion, a bad situation is made worse with injury. Having medical knowledge is not only a great way to be prepared for emergencies at home, but the field is amazingly resilient against economic trends.
Financial planner: Believe it or not, this position sees tremendous increases in economic down turns. People become eager to preserve the wealth they have, and hopefully continue to make a limited amount of profit from investments. In a time of plenty, many people do their own research and see reasonable returns on their investment because the whole market is going that way. In a down turn, the experts are sought to ensure it.
College professor: Another interesting opportunity, the college professor position becomes in more demand as company, state, and federal programs spring for “back to school” programs to train employees and former employees for new lines of work. With a paid-for opportunity and more time on their hands, these work-seekers frequently take advantage of the opportunity to get a new degree. As class sizes swell, new instructors are needed.
What other collections, activities, and professions have you found in a recession economy? Please comment below with your ideas!