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Page added on August 30, 2009

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Reluctance to Spend May Be Legacy of Recession

…The Great Depression imbued American life with an enduring spirit of thrift. The current recession has perhaps proven wrenching enough to alter consumer tastes, putting value in vogue.

Here in Austin, a laid-back city on the banks of the Colorado River, change is palpable.

A decade ago, Heather Nelson gained a lucrative job in telecommunications and celebrated by buying a new Ford sport utility vehicle with leather seats and an expensive stereo system. Today, Ms. Nelson, 38, again has designs on a new vehicle, but this time she plans to buy a Toyota Prius, the fuel-efficient hybrid.

In December, Ms. Nelson was laid off from her six-figure job as a patent attorney at a local software firm. Self-assured, she exudes confidence she will land another high-paying position.

But even if her spending power is restored, Ms. Nelson says her inclination to buy has been permanently diminished. Through nine months of joblessness, she has learned to forgo the impulse buys that used to provide momentary pleasure



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