In Cheap We Trust


America may be 233 years old, but really, she’s a teenage girl with bulimia. In this fascinating account of our nation’s binge-and-purge cycle of spending and sacrifice, Weber, a second-generation cheapskate — her father reuses a tea bag up to 12 times — traces thrift’s evolution from bedrock principle of the Founding Fathers to behavior that’s demonized as harmful to today’s consumption-driven economy. She takes surprising, insightful turns into the birth of home economics, the way we financed World War I on personal savings, and Freud’s theory that being a tightwad is rooted in unresolved potty-training issues. Weber ultimately makes her case for what she calls “ethical cheapness,” embracing sustainability and social responsibility to cloak frugality in virtue again. Try not to take it too far by deny-ing yourself the pleasures of this engaging, uniquely American story. — David Lidsky

Mon, September 07

By Lauren Weber

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