American Me: Frugality Edition | The Frugalista

American Me: Frugality Edition

by frugalista on April 21, 2008

I am a big Googler.  I Google my friends, dates and yes, myself. I ran across this article in the Financial Times. Chrystia Freeland is the U.S. managing editor of the international business publication’s New York office. She refers to my Vow of Frugality article and The Frugalista Files blog.

Freeland writes about what it’s like to see America tighten its belt. Private prosperity, she says, has always been an important part of America’s appeal. But now, this is what she’s noticed:

…it is with some sadness that I note that America’s age of indulgence seems to be giving way to an era of frugality. Earlier this month, for instance, Lee Scott, chief executive of Wal-Mart, told me and my colleagues that his careful customers had started to switch from buying 32oz pasta packages to the 48oz size, with a lower price per ounce. Martha Stewart’s fans appear to be feeling the squeeze, too. According to Susan Lyne, the chief executive of Stewart’s eponymous company, they have started to ask for recipes that use less lavish ingredients.

I agree with her. While I do think a culture of spending is detrimental, the ability of the middle class to buy nice things and still have money in the bank were benefits of American culture. Nowadays, many people are cutting back just to stay afloat financially. I wrote an article last week about American charities needing more money so they can afford food for Haiti. The non-profits, just like many regular working Americans, are worried about having enough money to feed people.

In all, I’m glad that I am taking this spending timeout. It needed to happen years ago.

What do you think? Is it a good thing that people are being forced into frugality? What do you think of Freeland’s perspective? What does the international community think of America’s spending habits and now LACK of spending?  Is this a wake up call?

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