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Ny Times - In Recession’S Wake, Frugal Ways Make A Comeback

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/26/business/26upgrade.html?_r=1&ref=business

Throw away the cellphone after two years? Not so fast. Ditch the flat-panel TV for an even thinner model? Maybe next year. Replace the blouse with the hole? Darn it!

Consumer spending has picked up, but for some Americans the recession has left something behind: a greater interest in making stuff last.

For a number of products — cars, phones, computers, even shampoo and toothpaste — the data shows a slowing of product life cycles and consumption. In many cases the difference is mere months, but economists and consumers say the approach just may outlast a full recovery and the return of easy credit, because of the strong impression the downturn made on consumers.

It is hardly the stuff of generations past, those stung by the Great Depression, who held onto antediluvian dishware and stored canned goods until rust formed on the lids. But for the moment, many citizens of a throwaway society are making fewer visits to the trash and recycling bins.

In the case of Patti Hauseman of Brooklyn, that meant sticking with a five-year-old Apple computer until it started making odd whirring noises and occasionally malfunctioning. She and her boyfriend bought a new computer for Christmas — actually, a refurbished one.

“A week later, the old one died. We timed it pretty well,” Ms. Hauseman said with a laugh. Her cautious approach applies to other products: she is holding out on upgrading two seven-year-old tube-type TVs, and has taken to mending clothes rather than replacing them.

Ms. Hauseman, 41, a general manager of an independent record label, said this mentality was the product of several factors, including bills that have swelled more quickly than her income. She said it was not so much that she could not afford new things, but that the last few years of economic turmoil had left her feeling that she could be stealing from her future by throwing away goods that still had value.

“I’ve started upgrading for necessity, not vanity,” she said, adding that to do otherwise “just does feel wasteful.”

Whether a broad, long-term shift in consumer habits is under way is a question tickling economists and analysts. Some insist that, as with the Depression, the recent downturn has made a lingering impression on how people view the propriety of, say, stuffing a still-working cellphone into a desk drawer in favor of a newer model.

As the US is a consumer driven economy if this heresy takes hold the US is in real trouble. People have to buy new tat to replace the still working old tat. That's what drives the economy. Waste is good, waste is profitable.

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I bought my phone in 2001 - it's getting a bit wonky though.

I bought my TV in 2002. TV is great as weights 87kg and is therefore burglar proof. Still works very well.

I bought a flat in 2002 too but upgraded it in 2007.

WIth hindsight I wish I'd got a new phone or TV instead...

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It is hardly the stuff of generations past, those stung by the Great Depression, who held onto antediluvian dishware and stored canned goods until rust formed on the lids.

In the UK you don't have to go back anywhere near as far as that to find similar frugality.

Edited by billybong

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Never bought into the disposable stuff in the first place, been married 25 years and on my second fridge, both of which were second hand. Only thing I insist on as new is a washing machine, it's the only thing in this house that works harder than me.

Mates of mine have spent £15 on a chuffin' candle, can't ever get my head round that.

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Yes, 30 freaking quid for liquid soap, in the guest bathroom!! Nuts, some people are. On subject of phones though, the contract price remains the same even if you replace the phone when the old contract runs out, means you keep up with the (admittedly mostly drivel) info stream. This phone is the best purchase I nave made in years.

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When in Oz last year, they seem to be firmly entrenched in the consumerism frame of mind... people we chatted to happily explain the benefits of upgrading to the latest broadband, phone, computer... etc. Almost as if they felt reassured by their progress and advancement.

One friend of a friend had a 5 year old iMac, and presumed she had to upgrade "that's the problem, every time a new one comes out you have to upgrade". Er, noooooo...... you can keep the one you've got..... it's a choice....

Went to craft fairs... crazy prices for retro / shabby chic / pre loved / upcycled / etc etc. So so far from being frugal over there.... could be scary when the recession hits..... "but, but, but, I paid $50 dollars for these earings with a plastic scrabble tile stuck on.... why will nobody pay more than $1 on eBay???"

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Mates of mine have spent £15 on a chuffin' candle, can't ever get my head round that.

I hope a "chuffin' candle" isn't what I think it is.

(and it must be pretty big if you can't get your head round it).

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Went to craft fairs... crazy prices for retro / shabby chic / pre loved / upcycled / etc etc. So so far from being frugal over there.... could be scary when the recession hits..... "but, but, but, I paid $50 dollars for these earings with a plastic scrabble tile stuck on.... why will nobody pay more than $1 on eBay???"

Craft fairs :rolleyes: when I very occasionally find myself at these I have great trouble keeping a straight face. Seeing what amateurish tat these people have brought along to sell and are apparently proud of amazes me. I understand the pleasure of creating something so I don't make any negative comments but I wouldn't want any of it as a gift.

What does surprise me is the number of clothes that people buy. I find a normal business shirt lasts 100 - 150 days of wear and then I throw it out when it gets shabby. For me that's 2 - 3 years and they are made for appearance rather than durability. Casual clothes are worn less often and are usually made of heavier material. They last for 10 years easily, sometimes 20 years before they start looking worn. If they have holes or look shabby I throw them out; but other than the occasional suit (£300 or so) I doubt I spend £100 on clothes each year and that's without even trying to economise.

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What does surprise me is the number of clothes that people buy. I find a normal business shirt lasts 100 - 150 days of wear and then I throw it out when it gets shabby. For me that's 2 - 3 years and they are made for appearance rather than durability. Casual clothes are worn less often and are usually made of heavier material. They last for 10 years easily, sometimes 20 years before they start looking worn. If they have holes or look shabby I throw them out; but other than the occasional suit (£300 or so) I doubt I spend £100 on clothes each year and that's without even trying to economise.

I still have clothes my parents bought me 20 years ago when I was a teenager - my wife doesn't like some of them so much though...

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Why throw out distressed looking clothing. People for years have been paying a premium for clothes that have been distressed or ripped in some way.

The rich paying to look poor.... the irony.

By happy coincidence in the late 80s a trend for ripped jeans came in at the point when my parents were no longer buying my clothes and I couldn't afford to! I just had to mend the pockets every so often but the holes were an actual plus, it was funny seeing pre-ripped jeans on sale when I was wearing them because I had no choice.

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I still have clothes my parents bought me 20 years ago when I was a teenager - my wife doesn't like some of them so much though...

I've got an old American Football shirt that I still occasional wear in the summer, that's about 22-23 years old, the wife has tried chucking it a few times and I've put my foot down and said no.

Got a few T-shirts that are well over 10 years old.

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I still have clothes my parents bought me 20 years ago when I was a teenager - my wife doesn't like some of them so much though...

When I quit the city almost a decade ago I took with me about 150 lewin/pink shirts, 5 suits and two pairs of churches shoes - the shoes got chewed by my GSP other than that my wardrobe is complete at least until 2020 :D the shirts go very well with the sleeves rolled up wearing jeans. I'm a smart pauper now.

Edit: I wash them in pillow cases.

Edited by tomposh101

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I have a garage crammed full of tools that, if I were to replace the lot for new ones, would cost me well in excess of 5k. I got the lot over a number of years from car boots and the like. All of them working and servicable. I can't have paid more than than 300 pounds for all of them.

My wife has, since the day I met her, bought every stich of clothing, apart from underwear, from charity shops. Unfortunately, because I am so tall and take size 16 shoes, I have to buy all my clothes new. Though, I do make some of my own clothes. My wife also knit's all of our jumpers.

Every single item of furniture (apart from a queen-size bed, again because I am so tall) and every single electrical item in our house (except a freesat-box and Satellite dish) is also second hand.

Oh, and we have always bought second hand cars and I always service and repair them myself

Tight as duck's arses...that's us.... :lol:

Edited by tallguy

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I live very frugally too, always have done, but I don't really see it happening in the UK in any significant form. We're too wedded to new stuff and our economy can't survive unless the zombies throng the shopping centres and keep the tills ringing. People do seem to be cutting back a little on holidays, meals out etc but we are nowhere near the stage of darning socks or doing any of the things that were normal a generation or two ago.

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Never bought into the disposable stuff in the first place, been married 25 years and on my second fridge, both of which were second hand. Only thing I insist on as new is a washing machine, it's the only thing in this house that works harder than me.

Mates of mine have spent £15 on a chuffin' candle, can't ever get my head round that.

I get great pleasure from bagging a bargain preferably quality second hand....if I went shopping and paid full price for some designer number I would feel ripped off and depressed for weeks....

I bought my washing machine £60 good German make a few weeks ago A+ rating, how chuffed I felt works perfectly...and sold the old one for parts or to repair, buyer collects and they did for £20.....I feel good that the washing machine repair man that bought it probably to sell as reconditioned can re-cycle it and it will not be chucked into land fill. ;)

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I still have clothes my parents bought me 20 years ago when I was a teenager - my wife doesn't like some of them so much though...

:unsure: Nothing like a forty year old in a Mr Blobby t shirt.

Edited by juvenal

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I live very frugally too, always have done, but I don't really see it happening in the UK in any significant form. We're too wedded to new stuff and our economy can't survive unless the zombies throng the shopping centres and keep the tills ringing. People do seem to be cutting back a little on holidays, meals out etc but we are nowhere near the stage of darning socks or doing any of the things that were normal a generation or two ago.

The people that can, want to or are able to live frugally can only do so off the back of others waste and excess...to benefit from it there has to be someone living in close vicinity that will allow others to benefit from their fortune...... ;)

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I live very frugally too, always have done, but I don't really see it happening in the UK in any significant form. We're too wedded to new stuff and our economy can't survive unless the zombies throng the shopping centres and keep the tills ringing. People do seem to be cutting back a little on holidays, meals out etc but we are nowhere near the stage of darning socks or doing any of the things that were normal a generation or two ago.

Um, that's unusual is it? :unsure:

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I get great pleasure from bagging a bargain preferably quality second hand....if I went shopping and paid full price for some designer number I would feel ripped off and depressed for weeks....

I bought my washing machine £60 good German make a few weeks ago A+ rating, how chuffed I felt works perfectly...and sold the old one for parts or to repair, buyer collects and they did for £20.....I feel good that the washing machine repair man that bought it probably to sell as reconditioned can re-cycle it and it will not be chucked into land fill. ;)

A man after my own heart.

However, the sad truth is that we are only able to do what we do and get second had stuff so cheap precisely because most others don't. If they did, then the price of second hand goods would start to rise. Indeed, my wife has noticed over the last two or three years that the charity shops are charging more for clothes. She reckons there are more people shopping there now.

Edited by tallguy

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A man after my own heart.

However, the sad truth is that we are only able to do what we do and get second had stuff so cheap precisely because most others don't. If they did, then the price of second hand goods would start to rise. Indeed, my wife has noticed over the last two or three years that the charity shops are charging more for clothes. She reckons there are more people shopping there now.

You are right, more people are shopping in the charity shops now, there is more of a demand than a quality supply...so the prices will naturally rise.....when I was buying years ago the same people that used to look down their noses at me are now venturing in to have a look, whereat before they would rush pass thinking to themselves only peasants would shop there......one mans trash is another mans treasure. ;)

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  • 309 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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