9/21/2017

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In Cheap We Trust
The Story Of A Misunderstood American Virtue
by Lauren Weber

What does it mean to be cheap? When is stowing money away wise, and when is it miserly? How might American interpret the economic downturn after years of indulgence and over-spending?

To answer these questions, IN CHEAP WE TRUST considers our hot-and-cold relationship with thrift and offers a colorful ride through its history in America, from Ben Franklin and his famous maxims to the branding of Jews and the Chinese as cheap in order to neutralize the economic competition they represented.

From Dumpster-diving and the psychology of hoarding to Americans' thrifty responses to war and recession, IN CHEAP WE TRUST teases out the meanings of the word"cheap" and explores the wisdom, virtues, and pleasures of not spending every last penny, all the while sparkling with smart, engaging writing that's well worth another precious asset-time!

Cheap is sometimes 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 fifty degrees through frigid New England winters. As an adult, when she found herself walking thirty blocks to save $2 on subway fare, she realized she had become him. In this lively treatise on being cheap, Weber looks at 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 Weber's father ration the family's toilet paper?

In Cheat We Trust offers a colorful ride through the history of frugality in the United States, teasing out the meanings of cheapness and examining the wisdom and pleasures of not spending every last penny.

About the author: Lauren Weber was formerly a staff reporter at Reuters and Newsday. She has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, American Banker,and other publications. A former resident at Yaddo, Lauren graduated from Wesleyan University and was a Knight-Bagehot fellow, a fellowship that invites 10 business journalists each year to study finance and economics at Columbia's Graduate School of Business.

Lauren grew up with a father whose creative and eccentric ways of saving money included rationing household toilet paper and developing a gas-saving method of driving in which light pedal taps substituted for full braking.

 

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