the road ahead

Frugal Times?
March 31, 2009, 9:51 pm
Filed under: business, ministry, spirituality


Have the times truly changed? Has the economic meltdown significantly altered consumer habits and attitudes? Have the days of easy credit and financial risk been replaced by a new attitude of frugality? We may be witnessing the end of the era of abundance and easy credit.

In a recent article in Time magazine, writer Kurt Anderson discusses the The End of Excess. Others have pondered the age of frugality. People who have over consumed now appear to live by a new code, the code of thrift.

If consumer habits change radically, it will have an impact on the various business models that have been developed over the past thirty years or so. The publishing world will not be spared from this change in sentiment. Retailers are already feeling the effects and the change most likely will grow.

So what should we expect in the new age of thriftiness? What products and services will be valued in these times? I have more questions than answers for this one. However, there are many things to consider as we move along in the days ahead. I’d like to hear what you think.


7 Comments so far
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It is interesting to drive down a major city street and look at store parking lots. While retailers lots are more sparse than they once were and stores are closing all over the place restauant and bar parking lots are full. It really becomes a matter of priorities and what is more important to you.

Comment by Jill Rockwell

I know every region of the country is different, but if what I see here in Nashville is any indication, I think people are NOT being frugal. Restaurants have hour long waits. On Thursday nights. Planes I’ve traveled on for business ate still full. Niche ticket sales are still very high if not record breaking. We NEED to live frugally. I need to change my ways. But, like so many Americans I have to pay for my addictions to technology. I charge all my gear and pay more for electricty. I pay my cell phone bill, my cable bill, my highspeed Internet bill. I watch “Cinderella Man” occaisionally to remind myself of what a work ethic in tough times looks like. Perhaps I can be more like Braddock and less like a spoiled child.

Comment by W. Mark Whitlock

At the very least, I think coupons are making a comeback! At our church, the mom’s are going coupon-crazy. Instead of saying frugal, I think we can say that we are being more cautious about decisions. Instead of throwing caution to the wind and making that purchase, we are more carefully evaluating the value we receive in return.

Comment by Steve

I find this so-called ‘age of frugality'(or whatever it’s called) highly amusing. I was raised lower middle-class in the inner city, so a lot of the frugal mindset that many have embraced wasn’t an option for me, it’s how we lived. In elementary school, each child had a subscription to the local paper and we were taught to comparison shop and pay attention to sales, among other things. Mom taught me the fine art of bargain-hunting on the streets of New York City’s Lower East Side. I’ve used coupons since I was a teen, as a way to earn the other half of my allowance. I’ve cooked since I was a very little girl and now try to go to a local pick-your-own farm for produce.

I don’t have a need for cable and get great use out of my library card for renting books, movies and music. Eating out and ordering takeout are once-or-twice monthly treats, not a way of life.

I believe thatthe materialism that has run rampant in society won’t change unless there’s a concerted effort by everyone to make better choices in what we consume. Not just now, but for the long run.

Comment by J.R.

I’m curious to see if this trend is a temporary response or a true shift in the culture. I do think we are entering an age where less is more, bigger is not always better, and where doing GOOD is socially expected. I truly hope it is a shift, even though it could change the retail landscape dramatically. If we lived Biblically in regards to our spending, we’d be much more frugal as a nation anyway. Perhaps our excess would be used to do more good rather than be slave to the lender.

I just hope that whatever is going on is not similar to a bad hangover where someone wakes up the next morning confessing to never do it again only to revert to the same bad habits a few weeks later when the pain wears off. (Bad analogy but hopefully makes the point).

I have more questions than answers as well but my recurring question is more so centered around… “What can WE do to help lead America down a more conservative path that follows Biblical direction how we manage our money and resources so that we are able to be better stewards to the world overall?” Hate to see retail hurt temporarily but would much rather see a solid foundation for our future.

Comment by Daniel Decker

I see this as a permanent shift in consumer spending behaviors. It will be tough for luxury brands to survive and mainstream–bling is dead! More importantly, consuemrs will be more and more sensitive to value. Read more on my thoughts on the Age of Frugality here:

Comment by Greg

sorry. Here’s the correct link:

Comment by Greg

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