Extreme Frugality: An American Co-culture

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Several months ago I began to suspect that a new acquaintance had some unusual ideas about money. Her Facebook posts and conversation starters revolved around living a frugal lifestyle and her approach, at least at the time, seemed quite novel. The Great Recession has certainly forced all of us to reevaluate our spending behaviors and tighten up our proverbial belts a few notches. In fact, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) conducted a poll in January that shows many of us are experiencing “frugal fatigue.” Cunningham, an NFCC spokesperson, says that “…66 percent (of respondents), indicated they were tired of pinching pennies… ,” but, “(t)he interesting finding is that more than 20 percent… had implemented financial lifestyle changes that they found to be positive and intended to keep them in place" ("Majority of Americans Have Frugal Fatigue”). I could not find any estimates about how many Americans have adopted extreme frugality, but the 20 percent of respondents in the NFCC’s poll that believe they will continue their frugal ways suggests the number may be very high indeed. At any rate, my new friend talked about her frugality with the same fervor as a religious convert. The only other person I knew who could rhapsodize so joyfully about reused plastic baggies and thrift store finds was my maternal grandmother. I was intrigued and inspired to research this co-culture, or perhaps counterculture, of extreme frugality. A Brief History Frugality was once a defining characteristic of early American culture, part of the Puritan value system, but since then it has fallen in and out of favor. The colonists and their pioneering cultural progeny were frugal by necessity and enculturation; wasteful behavior wa... ... middle of paper ... ...many interesting ways to save money that I began to experiment in my own household. The frugal people are right, seeing your savings even on small items is exhilarating. Now that I understand the best way to approach the topic, I hope to talk to many more people about their frugal lifestyle. Works Cited Dacyczyn, Amy. The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle. New York: Villard, 1998. Print. Economiser Productions, LLC. America's Cheapest Family. 2003-2011. 1 May 2011 . "Majority of Americans Have Frugal Fatigue: Significant Minority Found Lifestyle Changes to be Positive." National Foundation for Credit Counseling . National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Feb 2011. Web. 30 May 2011. newsreleases/Majority_of_AmericansHaveFrugalFatigue.cfm>.

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