Extreme Frugality: An American Co-culture Essay

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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 …show more content…
The culture of consumerism reigned in the Roaring Twenties and the two decades after WWII; however, history consistently proves that periods of opulence are usually followed by sharp economic downturns.
I found that America’s frugal culture is roughly divided into two groups: the cohort of senior citizens who survived the Great Depression and their grandchildren, young Americans either just beginning their adult lives or still raising their families. The generation between these two, the Baby Boomers, are less likely to practice extreme frugality merely for the purpose of conserving financial resources, but those who do often fall into the green-and-frugal category. The Boomers I observed had a strong aversion to thrift because they associated it with their parents’ values and a certain “peasant mentality.” Frugal senior citizens are thrifty out of habit. They remember the bad old days when everything was tight and do not ever want to repeat the experience. The younger generation is thrifty by necessity. I found that most people in this age group have a financial goal – buying a house, paying off maxed out credit cards - or compelling reason like the desire to be a stay-at-home parent.
Folk Heroes, Proverbs, and Wisdom
Like all cultures, frugality has its heroes. Authors dominate this position probably because the written word is so easily disseminated. A historical giant in the community is Benjamin Franklin, publisher of Poor

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