8 things you shouldn't cut back on during a recession

8 things you shouldn't cut back on during a recession
CEOs of startups are taking a pay cut this year due to a slump in venture capital funding.nicoletaionescu/Getty Images
  • Financial experts say there are eight things worth every penny that you shouldn't stop spending on.
  • During a recession, don't skimp on mental healthcare, insurance coverage, and medical expenses.

One of the biggest financial worries that's on the top of people's mind this year is the threat of a looming recession. According to a recent survey, there's a 61% chance that a recession will happen in 2023.

As people are planning their budgets and setting up financial goals for the coming months, they might start looking into different areas of their life where they can limit spending and stockpile cash in case of an emergency.

If you're starting to plan what items you should cut back on, take a look at what these financial experts say are worth every penny — even during a recession.

1. Internet and phone service

As you're sorting through your monthly fixed expenses, you might get tempted to call up your phone or internet provider and cancel or downgrade your plan to save money. However, certified financial planner Gabriel Lalonde told Insider doing that might end up costing you in the future.

"With the increased reliance on technology and the internet for communication and access to information, it is essential to have reliable internet and phone service," Lalonde said. "Plus, not having this can also limit your access to job opportunities and other resources."


If you're struggling to afford your internet or phone service during a recession, Lalonde recommends calling your current provider and asking for discounts or looking for lower-cost options with other providers out there.

2. Medical expenses and healthcare

If you're trying to find ways to cut costs, you might decide to postpone or skip doctor visits or prescription medications in an effort to avoid any out-of-pocket costs or pay for your insurance monthly premium.

Lalonde said investing in your health is always worthwhile, even during a recession, since skipping treatments or appointments could lead to the progression of an illness or injury, and make it more expensive or difficult to treat later on.

"Even with possible financial difficulties, you should still try to maintain your insurance coverage and look for ways to minimize costs, like asking for generic drugs or shopping around for better prices," Lalonde said.

To prepare for a looming recession, Lalonde recommends making sure your coverage is up-to-date and researching if there are any government or community programs that can assist you with the cost of healthcare costs.


3. Mental healthcare

Certified financial planner Stephanie Genkin adds that mental healthcare should also not be neglected during a recession.

"There's a reason why a person sought out therapy," Genkin told Insider. "An economic downturn can magnify those reasons."

If your current therapist doesn't accept insurance, Genkin recommends finding a different mental health professional who does so that if you need to cut spending, this isn't a cost that you have to worry about paying for.

4. Certain types of insurance coverage

As you audit your expenses, you might notice you're paying for a handful of different types of insurances. Before you cut back on any, certified financial planner Marcus Miller suggests keeping the policies that cover rare and costly occurrences and not ones that cover low-dollar expenses.

For example, Miller recommends keeping health insurance to cover unexpected medical bills or treatments, life insurance to ensure financial security for loved ones in the event of the policyholder's death, homeowners or renters insurance to cover personal property and liability from any injury or damages, and auto insurance so that you're covered in case of an accident.


If you want to cut back on insurance costs, he does suggest that you can cut pet insurance, home warranty, travel insurance, and identity theft insurance, since the costs might not be worth the limited benefits you receive.

5. Food and groceries

If you're someone who spends a lot of their budget on food, certified financial planner Jay Nelson said rather than cutting back in this area, become more strategic about the food you're buying.

He says you can cut back on eating out or grabbing fast food, but when it comes to grocery shopping, he recommends stocking up on the basics and staples of what you need for meals at home, especially when discounts or deals are available on those items.

Other tips he recommends for saving money on groceries, without limiting how much you're buying, is grabbing store-brand items over name brands, purchasing what you know you'll eat that week, and getting frozen items that won't spoil or expire.

6. Transportation

If you're noticing that you're spending a lot of money trying to get around your city, for work or errands, Nelson said this might not be something you can realistically cut completely out of your budget during a recession.


Whether you have recurring expenses related to your vehicle, auto insurance, gas, or you use ride sharing services or public transportation, Nelson recommends finding ways to plan ahead so that you can still use that mode of transportation without overspending.

He recommends doing a few things, like being mindful of where you're going and how often you can make multiple stops in one trip, and also filling up your car with the lowest-priced gas in your neighborhood. Also, if it's an option, Nelson said to find ways to carpool to work with a coworker to reduce expenses when needed.

7. Emergency Fund

While a recession might make it tempting to want to switch around your financial planning and pause contributions to your retirement account, Nelson says that if it's not fully funded with up to six months worth of expenses, it's important to prioritize this savings account.

"Cut other expenses, like clothing and coffee, and put that money into an emergency fund so you have the freedom to pay for life's unexpected events, rather than taking on debt," he said.

8. Debt payments

Another financial mistake that Nelson often sees in a recession are clients who stop making payments on outstanding debt that they have. He said that this isn't a cost to cut back on during an economic downturn because you might end up getting hit with more interest and penalties, making those payments heftier in the future.


If you're prioritizing what to cut back on, Nelson recommends cutting spending elsewhere to ensure debts are being paid off first.