Personal Finance: Frugality Forever

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Michelle Singletary
Thursday, May 6, 2010; 11:04 AM

Saving is the new black.

Whoopee, people are finally saving again and they may - just may - keep saving even when the recession ends. Frugality may become the new fad, in particular among people who haven't been hit hard by the recession, report Jeannine Aversa and Bernard Condon.

In an Associated Press survey, 44 leading economists were asked whether the recession created a "new frugality" and if that mindset will continue after the recession. A majority said saving is here to stay. At the height of the savings boom last year, people saved 6.4 percent of their disposable income compared with less than 1 percent before the recession hit.

"Consumers will not run up multiple credit cards to their limits, and when buying a house the objective will not be to get the maximum square footage for which they can afford the payment," said Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. "A higher savings rate will be in place for several years."

3-D Dollars

I enjoyed watching the movie "How To Train Your Dragon." My kids liked the movie too. And we didn't see it in 3-D. Nope, we saved the money and put it toward popcorn. (Yes, people as frugal as I am I do splurge on the movie popcorn, but I bring baggies so we take advantage of the free refills for the super tub.)

From HD to Blu-Ray, there's a constant evolution of new technology that is supposed to provide a more lively and personal cinematic experience. But is that experience really worth the extra dollars?

Roger Ebert, a film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, doesn't think so. In a Newsweek column, Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too), Ebert says, "It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience."

I especially agree because of the added cost seeing movies in 3D. Ebert explains that the 3D craze is "driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets," Ebert writes.

Online shopping fee

A new bill is looking to lay claim to the millions of dollars in online sales taxes, reports Ylan Q. Mui in Cash-strapped states go online, hoping to tax sales.

At stake is not only the small discount that many shoppers enjoy, reports Mui, but the low-price business model that fueled the explosive transformation of Amazon and Overstock.com into giants of the $130 billion e-commerce industry.


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