book review – Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

Journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell examines how Americans seek out low prices and the result of the pursuit of ever-cheaper goods.

Not a new concept, the idea of discounting goes back to the 19th century. Although the ethos of frugality prevailed, quality goods that could be passed down to future generations were the norm. Once cheaper goods became more readily available, people could get more, although it didn’t last as long.

Fast-forward to today – dollar stores, discount stores, 24/7 online shopping. The opportunity to buy (lots of) cheap stuff is easier than ever. But is it helping us?

Shell has done a good job of researching the history of “discount culture” and offers compelling reasons why we shouldn’t let price, alone, drive our decisions.

How does all this relate to clutter? You’re often better off buying one higher-priced item than lots of inexpensive, poorly-made ones. Aside from the environmental impact of cheap goods and the exploitation of people who create them, ask yourself if you really need what you’re about to buy. Are you buying it because it’s cheap or are you replacing an item you would have purchased anyway?

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