Are Americans Experiencing Frugality Fatigue?
A recent post in Sharon Astyk's lovely sustainability blog mentions the idea that Americans are suffering from "frugality fatigue." After a year of tightened belts and tighter fists, we're reaching for our wallets again and returning to our bad old ways. Or so the theory goes.
On the one hand, the idea seems laughable. Almost 10% of us are unemployed, the highest percentage of unemployment in my adult life. The weekend's news was that consumer spending fell slightly in September, and no one is expecting much shopping this holiday season.
Could we really be tired of being frugal? Surely we all see the need to keep saving. I doubt anyone is looking at the economic news and thinking the crisis is over and we can resume shopping where we left off.
I can see why some people would be breaking out of their frugal habits a little, though. My own spending went up in September and October. Not because I was tired of saving. I spent more money because my stuff started to break.
In the past six weeks, I've replaced my family car, my home heating system, a chunk of my wardrobe and part of my computer system.
I wasn't partying — just maintaining. I only formally joined The Compact to buy nothing new six months ago, but like many Americans I'd been shopping lightly if at all for a long time. A lot of my key possessions hit their breaking point all at once.
In the bad old days of credit cards and financial blindness, I probably would have replaced that stuff sooner, more gradually and with more fun.
For instance, I would not have waited until I was in a wedding party to buy some new clothes after having a baby and losing my baby weight. I'd have celebrated fitting back into my skinny jeans by going out and buying more skinny jeans. Instead, I literally tightened my belt to keep my pants up until I really *had* to go shopping.
I suspect a lot of people are in my shoes: after eschewing shopping in favor of saving, you're finding out you do occasionally need to buy some Stuff.
What have you spent money on in the past few months? Have you found creative ways to replace things that break or wear out? Has your spending crept up recently, or are you just as frugal as ever? Let us know in the comments.