Thrift and frugality were the American way in the early years of our history. Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” My slave ancestors learned to make something out of nothing – chitterlings, hog maws and fried anything.
As the country grew and progressed Americans were encouraged to start spending to boost the economy. Spending became an act of patriotism. Charge accounts, charge plates and credit cards became the rage. Consumption became the American way.
Today’s economy has made many of us return to more simple living. We’re cancelling cable, giving our kids home haircuts, buying only what we need and using coupons at the grocery store. The internet has scores of Web sites with cost cutting ideas.
It seems though that the almighty dollar is still strong. I am struck by the overabundance of dollar stores we’ve seen as we ride. The Dollar General, the Dollar Store, the 99 cents Only Store, the Family Dollar Store, the Dollar Depot, the 99 cents Connection and the Dollar Bee all seem to be thriving. Roam around in one of these stores and you can find a little bit of everything – from auto care goods to zucchini. Throw too many items in that cart and you’ve spent a 20 dollar bill in no time. Can everything we really need be found in a dollar store? Are we cheap, thrifty or frugal? Is this the new rage?