The credit crisis may force Americans to do something truly drastic: live frugally. Benjamin Franklin-style penny-pinching once defined America, but thrift has gone decidedly out of style in recent times, BusinessWeek reports. "I can't help the economy," says one recent convert to the new frugality. "I've got to help myself."
“After 9/11 it became patriotic to shop,” says another recovering consume-aholic, “and we became as patriotic as anybody.” After generations without a major economic downturn, spending at all costs became the norm. Some groups are now calling for massive public-education campaigns warning about debt, similar to the successful anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving efforts. “We want to build a culture that’s more hospitable to thrift,” says one think-tank researcher.