Lauren Weber grew up with a father who rationed toilet paper and rarely used his car's turn signals (to prevent them from burning out). She was formerly a staff reporter at Newsday and Reuters, and has also written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other publications.
An “engaging, uniquely American story” — Fast Company
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 denying yourself the pleasures of this engaging, uniquely American story.