Frugality becoming the norm in post-recession America?

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Many Americans have adopted a more frugal lifestyle even though the recession is technically over. You see in it in how long we’re keeping consumer goods of all kinds — everything from cars to shampoo.

The New York Times reports people are now holding onto new cars for a record 64 months on average. Used cars, meanwhile, are now staying in our lives for 52 months, also a record. As you probably know, I like for you to keep a new car 10 years or longer. And if you’re buying a used car, aim to keep it for at least 4 years.

Then you have what’s going on in the electronics market. People are keeping their cell phones and TVs longer. No doubt some of that has to do with the fabulous reliability of flat-screen TVs. The failure rate is 4% during the first 3 years of ownership on most brands, according to Consumer Reports.

Yet it isn’t just big purchases that people are getting frugal about. People are doing it with things like shampoo and toothpaste too. My wife and I have the usual couples’ battle where I want to squeeze every last drop out of the toothpaste tube and she wants to squeeze from the middle!  

Some people used to say that frugality equals a decline in living standards. But I say this is not a decline, this is an improvement in living standards. Choosing to save gives you much more control over your financial future.

Note: This segment originally aired March 2011



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