Cheap is now cool

Good to know the up-and-coming generation knows how to save money too.

This week's edition of Thursday Styles in the New York Times features an article call "Teenagers Shop For Art of the Deal." Here are excerpts and my commentary:

"GABY Yosca can stretch a dollar like a bungee chord. Last weekend, during an hourlong shopping expedition at a Salvation Army store in downtown Manhattan, Ms. Yosca, a 15-year-old sophomore at the Dalton School, worked with a budget that was modest but elastic enough in her expert hands to accommodate four dresses, an aqua-tinted tank top, a brown corduroy blazer, two silk shirts, two belts, a pocketbook and a volume on makeup. 'I scored,' she gloated as she watched the cashier ring up her haul for a grand total of $62.50...Ms. Yosca, as she may be aware, typifies a new breed of dollar-conscious teenager. Many are the offspring of affluent parents and have the means to pay retail prices for, say, a coveted Chloe Paddington Bag, Seven jeans or Ralph Lauren bed linens. But they would rather chase a deal."

It's refreshing to know that even well-off kids are saving money. Bargain shopping is a skill that came to me through necessity...I've been economically-deprived most of my life (and style-deprived until 2 years ago, when I finally fine-tuned the cheap-with-quality radar). There is a good chance that I'll make good money a few years down the line, but even if I do get rich,I'll still be cheap, and I'll teach my kids to shop the same way. Why? It's the economy, stupid. You never know when there's a rainy day. Also, conspicuous consumerism is just plain mean. Money alone doesn't make you a better person. Working for it and using it wisely does. Economic hardship certainly shaped my character and work ethic. Finally, it's a very marketable skill. Whether you're a CEO or a purchasing manager, having the ability to bargain shop will help your business thrive. Not to mention the possibility that you'll move up a few notches on the corporate ladder, assuming you're not already on the top.

"Call them cheapskates. They don't mind. For this group, pinching pennies is a competitive sport: a test of cunning and a point of pride."

Couldn't have said it better myself =) The economic social gap is still as wide as the Grand Canyon, but if being cheap is less of a stigma, hopefully the same can be said for being poor.

"And she shops for vintage clothes and accessories at flea markets at the New Jersey shore, where she spends summer weekends. She has learned to practice fiscal restraint. 'I always test myself,' she said. 'If I see something in a magazine I really like, I'll put it aside. If I still want it in about four weeks, I'll actually consider it. By that time it might be on sale.'"

I'm not into thrift shops or the vintage thing ("vintage" just conjures up images of the Olsen Twins' Druggie-boho-chic...*shivers*), but since it's a money-saving trend, I'm all for it. What the girl said is so true; it seems like there's a sale at the mall every few weeks, if not every week. The pace of fashion is more like a sprint--things you find at Forever 21 3 weeks ago might already have been cleared out because people are "so over it" already. Sometimes it's a good thing, since removing glaring colors is beneficial to public health and safety, but sometimes it's annoying when sensible, comfortable clothes are no more.

"In a shift of priorities, many today are pressuring their parents to pay for such high-ticket expenditures as cable on demand, a satellite car radio system, TiVo or additional cellphone minutes. 'But when it comes to typical categories of big spending - fashion and beauty - they're just over it,' Ms. Wells said."

I guess I was wrong about my earlier comment on conspicuous consumerism. Fashion is still a status symbol, but electronics overshadows it by a factor of 10. At least electronics are useful. It never made any sense to me why people want pay money just to be a walking billboard.

"Web sites like eBay and Overstock.com are among the beneficiaries of frugal adolescents. 'In the past year or so we've noticed that a lot of our junior apparel has started flying off the shelf,' said Stormy Simon, the vice president for offline marketing at Overstock. Those findings, she added, were a surprise. She was equally taken aback to discover that in the last year the company has seen a 97 percent growth in users under age 24. 'We really haven't targeted
those guys,' she said. 'That category is new for us.'"

The last part really surprises me as well, since I just had a conversation with some guy friends about this. Apparently they have no concept of bargain shopping and would rather pay a hundred bucks for a pair of Diesel jeans. Maybe it's a sign I should forward this article to them, hint hint.

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