When a recession hits, hardly anyone is unaffected, and this is no different in the Peoria area. For Central Illinoisans, though, a recession often takes hold months after it hits the rest of the country, and thus, when the rest of the country is beginning to recover, Peoria is often still struggling.

In our survey of this year’s 40 Leaders Under Forty, we asked what they have done differently to adapt to the changing economy. While their responses varied, they also verified the trickle-down effect on Peoria during the recession.

Many of the responses had to do with cutting back on spending and focusing on saving. Suzanne Miller admitted she can’t remember the last time she used her credit cards, and Sara O’Shea reported that she has focused on paying off debt.

Some of our leaders are trading in their SUVs for hybrid cars to save money on gas. According to Consumer Reports, many SUVs, like the Jeep Commander Limited and Land Rover LR3 SE, get just 13 miles per gallon, while the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV gets double that amount. There are even greater savings if you switch to the 51-mpg 2010 Toyota Prius or 43-mpg Honda Insight!

The “staycation” is another way our 40 Leaders are saving money during the recession. Instead of jetting off on an elaborate—and expensive—trip, Karen Cotton and her husband stayed in the area and visited local attractions. Not only will you save money on hotel rooms, plane tickets and gas, but you’ll learn more about your hometown and support the local economy as well.

There are many other simple ways to save. MyFinancialBook.com says the average American eats out four times a week, and many leaders are cutting this cost by eating more meals at home. As the social coordinator of her group of friends, Jessica Moroz has sought out new alternatives for dining and stumbled upon some of the less pricey, hidden gems of the Peoria area.

Other leaders are saving money by cutting down on their daily allotment of Starbucks, shopping at Aldi or Goodwill, or using the library to borrow books and DVDs instead of buying or renting them. A few noted that they have invested in real estate instead of putting their money in the stock market.

While we all have different ways of coping with the recession, it’s good to know that we’re doing it together. Maybe hearing how our 40 Leaders Under Forty have made adjustments to their lives will give you some ideas as well. iBi