It's a dirty word, an epithet laden with negative meanings. It is also the story of Lauren Weber's life. As a child, she resented her father for keeping the heat at 50 degrees through the frigid New England winters and rarely using his car's turn signals-to keep them from burning out.
In this lively treatise on the virtues of being cheap, Weber explores provocative questions about Americans' conflicted relationship with consumption and frugality. Why do we ridicule people who save money? Where's the boundary between thrift and miserliness? Is thrift a virtue or a vice during a recession? And was it common sense or obsessive-compulsive disorder that made her father ration the family's toilet paper? In answering these questions, In Cheap We Trust offers a colorful ride through the history of frugality in the United States.
Readers will learn the stories behind Ben Franklin and his famous maxims, Hetty Green named "the world's greatest miser" by the Guinness Book of Records and the stereotyping of Jewish and Chinese immigrants as cheap.
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Weber also explores contemporary expressions and dilemmas of thrift. Sort order. Nov 10, Jacki rated it really liked it. It started from the Puritans who first settled here and went through May of She talked a lot about the role that women have played in household finances and what scrimping and saving looked like years ago versus now. She also talked about how thriftiness was viewed by the masses and the different government pushes to either spend or save. They had ads out about how to reuse and conserve and ration.
After the war was over, people continued to do this, leading to the Great Depression.
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And that led to one of the largest economic booms in our history. After getting into the history pretty throughly, the author went into what all of that led to, what it looks like today. The second half went into the different movements that are happening right now, including people going green, and the Freegan movement. She talked about how we consume and what that is doing to us psychologically and doing to our world as a whole. I know that Americans are big consumers, but the figures she threw out there were gasp-worthy.
She went into how this is making landfills huge, and they in turn are producing gases that are destroying the environment. She went into ways to save money and at the end of the book provided further reading and websites to check out that have to do with living cheaply. What I Thought: I am cheap. Seriously, I am. I would never have bought this book full price. I read it because I won it in a drawing. I shop primarily at a discount grocer. Just this past weekend, I altered a pumpkin pie recipe because I refused to spend 8 dollars on a little jar of spices.
Because of that, I thought that this book was fascinating. For me, one of the things that made the book was the chapter on the psychology of cheapness and the total anxiety that comes with making purchases for a cheap person. Literally, the thought of spending those 8 dollars on a spice made my heart speed up. I could not do it. I started getting a little depressed when I realized just how much of this was a history book, but I was surprised about how quickly it went by.
I really enjoyed reading it and felt like I learned a lot and connected a lot of dots. It just put a new spin on things. I liked that the author, while admittedly cheap herself, showed both sides of the coin. She talked about how during certain times, some people embraced thriftiness, while others thought that it was stupid and spoke against or just ignored it. She really did well at providing a balanced view.
She showed extreme misers and how they live, as well as normal people living cheap just because they want to. Conclusion: I think that this is a great book for people who are currently cheap or what to become cheaper. It provides a lot of practical tips and resources. It is also a good book for a history buff.
There is a lot here for different people to enjoy. And it really is enjoyable. The author has a funny tone and often mocks herself and her family for their cheap ways. In an era when a president encourages us to buy-buy-buy in the aftermath of an enemy attack and "consumer confidence" is measured by how willing we are to shell out our shillings for things we may or may not need, a book about our complicated attitudes toward consumption and thrift is timely, to say the least. Written in lively, engaging prose, this exploration of thrift helps to explain our American spending habits.
Lauren Weber begins with some snips of personal history, describing her thrifty In an era when a president encourages us to buy-buy-buy in the aftermath of an enemy attack and "consumer confidence" is measured by how willing we are to shell out our shillings for things we may or may not need, a book about our complicated attitudes toward consumption and thrift is timely, to say the least. Her research into the history of thrift in America going back to pre-Revolutionary days surprisingly reveals that we have long been a nation of spendthrifts and debtors, saving on small items in order to blow it all on the big ones.
Weber is at her best when she describes how American women have been co-opted by advertisers and merchandisers into becoming major consumers, and when she describes the government's wartime efforts both First and Second World Wars to divert dollars from household consumption to investments in war bonds. And then, as the wars inflated manufacturing capacity, businesses began to see that consumption, not savings, was the way to grow the economy. Wars over, both government and private sectors began to encourage Americans to buy. I'll bet you've heard that one.
But in that solution to bolstering our economy lies a very grave danger, as Weber shows. Not only are we likely to spend our way into debt as the recent housing bubble so clearly demonstrates , but we're likely to enjoy a "sense of entitlement and false confidence" about the natural resources that fuel our consumption. Our consuming passions require the burning of vast amounts of fossil fuels, contributing to global warming and resource depletion.
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The best way to save the planet, Weber says, is simply to stop buying stuff. Cheap is the new green. Jun 03, Jo rated it really liked it. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed it. A quick google search yielded a very simple recipe. And I learned that for every bag of garbage I put out there are 70 put out on my behalf by the manufacturer I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed it. And I learned that for every bag of garbage I put out there are 70 put out on my behalf by the manufacturers and retailers and all the other people upstream.
A good encouragement for me to continue being thrifty and to consider where else I can do better without becoming cheap and miserly, because there are values that mean more to me than just saving money for a rainy day. The opposite of what the mainstream is doing. Sep 17, Christine rated it really liked it Shelves: first-reads. Received for free through Goodreads First Reads.
ISBN 13: 9780316030281
This was not at all what I expected it to be, but I was pleasantly surprised. In CHEAP We Trust is both a history of cheapness you can call it thrift if you like, if it helps you sleep at night, but let's face it, you're cheap and a guide to how to leave more cheaply. The beginning half is a well-researched look at cheap as an American virtue, and it was really enlightening.
And it just got worse. I found this book to be really educational, but also super fun to read. I'm recommending it to family! Feb 26, Kara rated it liked it Shelves: money , nonfiction. I wouldn't consider myself an overly thrifty person, but I do hate waste, which is why this book's premise intrigued me so much initially. However, this book is more of a historical review of America's economy through the lens of cheapness than it is a how-to guide about living a thrifty life.
Weber's historical survey is pretty broad, and it can be a little dry at times, a drawback that other reviewers have noted. She clearly did her research, but I wish she had included more anecdot 3. She clearly did her research, but I wish she had included more anecdotes in the historical chapters, something she does successfully in the more contemporary sections of the book. You should save when times are good so you have money put away for the proverbial rainy days.
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I already knew quite a bit about Americans' current lack of thriftiness through my research on fast fashion and textile waste, so I didn't personally gain a ton from this book. But for someone who isn't that familiar with the history of waste and the American economy, this could be an interesting read.
Oct 10, May Deng rated it it was amazing. This book gave a good overall view of being cheap and frugal in America. And it also examines it in different points of view. I think the author did a great job of explaining why certain groups of people are cheap and the psychology of being cheap. This subject is something that many people can relate to because many people know people who are cheap or frugal.
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Being cheap or frugal might be important to certain groups of people for some particular reason. Some people might have trouble with bein This book gave a good overall view of being cheap and frugal in America. Some people might have trouble with being cheap or frugal. Being cheap might be a value to certain people and it might not be a value to other people. Being cheap might become a hinderance to participating in certain social activities. Or being cheap might be a form of self-control.