Author Topic: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."  (Read 37235 times)

chemistk

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"Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« on: April 26, 2016, 05:20:18 AM »
"...and that's a problem."

Bold assertion from Yahoo! Finance.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/americans-don-t-like-to-buy-stuff-anymore-%E2%80%93-and-that-s-a-problem-170924225.html

The last line:
Quote
Some day, Americans may even be able to afford more than they spend.

Kaspian

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2016, 10:16:19 AM »
The "desire" to save is at an all-time high yet actual savings remains near all-time lows?  Hahaha...  Oh, people kill me!  You could make a similar assertion:  The desire to be fit and in shape is at an all time high yet cases of obesity and type 2 diabetes are also at an all-time high. 

This article is in direct contrast with what I personally witness and other articles which say things like "Americans are eating out at restaurants more than ever before."  ...But they want to save money?

Americans' Spending on Dining Out Just Overtook Grocery Sales for the First Time Ever
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 10:19:22 AM by Kaspian »

mwulff

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2016, 10:25:59 AM »
Not to belittle any Americans but on my two previous visits to the "States" I was amazed at amount of money that people could throw around.

I had the pleasure of staying with friends in the 5000 sqft mcmansion and meet their friends with lakeside castles. I have never ever laid eyes on so much upper-middle class wealth. Even though my wife and I are upper-middle class in our country we couldn't afford a fraction of the luxury that they had.

There was spending enough going on, no doubt.

I don't begrudge them their luxuries and I will say that their sense of community was impressive and everyone we met across 10 states were nice and friendly people.

But my god can americans spend money ;)

Btw. still going back to the states this year on vacation :)


dougules

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2016, 10:49:11 AM »
At least Americans are paying lip service to saving.  That's better than a few years ago when it wasn't even on people's radar.   Maybe if everybody at least thinks it's a good idea, they'll figure out how to implement it. 

And yes, Americans are amazing at excess, but part of the problem is that American companies are expert at using marketing and cultural engineering to brainwash people.  Spend, spend, spend!  How can you raise kids in just 3000 sq ft (300 sq m)?  Your kids are in danger if you don't drive an Escalade.  Look how much cheaper and bigger houses are if  you just drive another 20 minutes out of town.  Don't these doughnuts look good?  What about a nice hamburger?  We'll supersize it for just 30 cents more. 

If these false economies are repeated to you endlessly and you see everybody around you buying in, it takes a concerted effort to break free. 

mwulff

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2016, 11:19:29 AM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.

No Name Guy

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2016, 12:42:49 PM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.

Depends on location.  In my entry level home / middle-middle class / working-middle class slice of suburbia (outside of Seattle), no, it isn't important in the least. 

In upper-middle class suburbia 'hoods on the east coast, probably more so.

mm1970

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2016, 01:00:56 PM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.

Depends on location.  In my entry level home / middle-middle class / working-middle class slice of suburbia (outside of Seattle), no, it isn't important in the least. 

In upper-middle class suburbia 'hoods on the east coast, probably more so.
I live in So Cal, and we are schizophrenic here.  We've got the green folks - small cars, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles.  We've got the hybrids (Prius) and Teslas.  But the majority of cars that I see on the freeway and in parking lots are luxury SUVs.  Cadillac, Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Audi, and a few Mercedes.

mm1970

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2016, 01:02:55 PM »
Not to belittle any Americans but on my two previous visits to the "States" I was amazed at amount of money that people could throw around.

I had the pleasure of staying with friends in the 5000 sqft mcmansion and meet their friends with lakeside castles. I have never ever laid eyes on so much upper-middle class wealth. Even though my wife and I are upper-middle class in our country we couldn't afford a fraction of the luxury that they had.

There was spending enough going on, no doubt.

I don't begrudge them their luxuries and I will say that their sense of community was impressive and everyone we met across 10 states were nice and friendly people.

But my god can americans spend money ;)

Btw. still going back to the states this year on vacation :)
That's interesting. I think it's going to vastly depend on where you live and what you do.  I know many Americans who like to spend money! 

I've got some Danish friends.  They don't have much in the way of houses or cars (maybe 1 small car per family, and either an attached home or an apartment), but boy do they travel.  They get a lot more time off. It's not uncommon for our friends to take off a month or three and travel the US or Asia for that length of time.

maco

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2016, 01:53:22 PM »
If anyone involved in writing that article had paid attention in Economics class, they'd know that the GDP includes investments. Recategorizing money from "spending" to "investments" doesn't change that it still ends up in the GDP.

maco

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2016, 02:02:44 PM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.
There is an extent to which I care what the neighbors or their (and my) guests think, but it's not my car. It's a bar somewhat above "don't be an eyesore."

Gather up the sticks that fall from the tree and take them around back to fuel the fire pit. Plant azaleas in front of the house. Pick up the litter that gets tossed in my yard. Rip out invasive weeds. Plant the right things to soak up water after a rainfall (so there aren't puddles full of mosquitos in the yard).

I'm in a middle / lower-middle class neighborhood. I thought the litterbugs were friends of next door's son, but his brother says they're random people who go to the liquor store a block over and then park on our street to drink their purchases.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 02:05:35 PM by maco »

SisterX

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2016, 02:32:07 PM »
Favorite quotes from the article -
"Ten years ago, saving was like making your bed or changing the oil in your car on schedule: Nice to do but hardly essential." Because, apparently, saving for the future is never really essential. Right? Amiright? Amiright??

"Old-fashioned saving became popular again." Lol!

Abe

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2016, 06:14:57 PM »
Are the people who complain about depending on Social Security has forced them to live off cat food the same people who think saving isn't essential, or are these two different groups of people who have never interacted with one another?

mwulff

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2016, 11:35:45 PM »
That's interesting. I think it's going to vastly depend on where you live and what you do.  I know many Americans who like to spend money! 

I've got some Danish friends.  They don't have much in the way of houses or cars (maybe 1 small car per family, and either an attached home or an apartment), but boy do they travel.  They get a lot more time off. It's not uncommon for our friends to take off a month or three and travel the US or Asia for that length of time.

You're right about our time off. We love it :) I think many danes actually deliberately choose the small attached house so they can afford to travel more. I know we made that exact choice 8 years ago. We bought a small 700 sqft house and are now on a path to ER and more travelling. We try to balance the two things.

Also it is very common  to only have 1 car here simply because they are taxed at 150% and that means that only the well off people can afford more than 1 car. This is changing with the micro-class cars that are priced at about 100.000 dkk but it is still somewhat unusual to see a family with 2 cars. Hence the reason why e-bikes are very popular here.

Personally we are taking a month off this year to tour the US starting in Florida and ending in Seattle, I can't wait :)

mm1970

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2016, 11:34:08 AM »
That's interesting. I think it's going to vastly depend on where you live and what you do.  I know many Americans who like to spend money! 

I've got some Danish friends.  They don't have much in the way of houses or cars (maybe 1 small car per family, and either an attached home or an apartment), but boy do they travel.  They get a lot more time off. It's not uncommon for our friends to take off a month or three and travel the US or Asia for that length of time.

You're right about our time off. We love it :) I think many danes actually deliberately choose the small attached house so they can afford to travel more. I know we made that exact choice 8 years ago. We bought a small 700 sqft house and are now on a path to ER and more travelling. We try to balance the two things.

Also it is very common  to only have 1 car here simply because they are taxed at 150% and that means that only the well off people can afford more than 1 car. This is changing with the micro-class cars that are priced at about 100.000 dkk but it is still somewhat unusual to see a family with 2 cars. Hence the reason why e-bikes are very popular here.

Personally we are taking a month off this year to tour the US starting in Florida and ending in Seattle, I can't wait :)
My MIL is Danish, so my husband has some relatives there and several friends.

We visited and we chatting with our friends.  Lise was noting how expensive cars are and that they *really* admire the size of American cars (a bigger trunk would be great!)

But their work hours were better too.  Her husband got the car and took their daughter to school.  Lise would put their son on the back of her bike and would bike him to daycare, then bike to work, then repeat at the end of the day.

In the last 10 years -
- They took 3 months off, spent about a month in the US (four days with us), and then 2 months in Asia.
- They came just last year with another family for two weeks, rented a house not far from here.  Spent some time with them.
- They came back again for 2 weeks this year, and we got to meet up with them again.

It's really nice to see them. I just wish I had enough vacation time to return the favor.  My last trip to Copenhagen was 2002, before I had kids.

SomedayStache

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2016, 12:42:40 PM »
This is veering off-topic, but a high school friend graduating from a prestigious business school whittled her job offers down to 2.  One in New York and one in Europe.  She chose the European job because it gave her far more time to travel and visit family in the midwest.  Yep - she has more family time by living in an entirely different country with better vacation policies than staying in this country with work/life culture being what it is.

solon

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2016, 01:28:12 PM »
If anyone involved in writing that article had paid attention in Economics class, they'd know that the GDP includes investments. Recategorizing money from "spending" to "investments" doesn't change that it still ends up in the GDP.

Well, no, personal investments aren't included in GDP. Only business investments in equipment and such.
see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_domestic_product#Components_of_GDP_by_expenditure

That's one of the problems with GDP - what is good for consumers (saving and investing) is bad for GDP.

dougules

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2016, 02:20:06 PM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.

If you don't care what the neighbors think, count yourself lucky.  I think most people care a lot about keeping up with the people around them.  I'm a bit of a contrarian, but it is really difficult sometimes to live surrounded by people who think completely opposite of you.

I think part of the clever marketing is using the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality against people.  The marketeers know if they can get half the population thinking one way, most of the other half will follow just so they aren't left out.  It's social engineering for maximum consumption. 


If anyone involved in writing that article had paid attention in Economics class, they'd know that the GDP includes investments. Recategorizing money from "spending" to "investments" doesn't change that it still ends up in the GDP.

Investment is spending when you really look at it.  If you buy a share of stock, you're buying something the same as if you bought a computer or a shirt.  Somebody is getting that money to spend somewhere else. 

MgoSam

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2016, 07:23:32 PM »

If anyone involved in writing that article had paid attention in Economics class, they'd know that the GDP includes investments. Recategorizing money from "spending" to "investments" doesn't change that it still ends up in the GDP.

Investment is spending when you really look at it.  If you buy a share of stock, you're buying something the same as if you bought a computer or a shirt.  Somebody is getting that money to spend somewhere else.

It's been almost a decade since I've taken any economics, how well does this work? I liked to think of spending $1 on something new as increasing GDP by $1 (consumption). Would investments in the stock market have an identical effect?

mwulff

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2016, 12:08:52 AM »
If you don't care what the neighbors think, count yourself lucky.  I think most people care a lot about keeping up with the people around them.  I'm a bit of a contrarian, but it is really difficult sometimes to live surrounded by people who think completely opposite of you.

I think part of the clever marketing is using the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality against people.  The marketeers know if they can get half the population thinking one way, most of the other half will follow just so they aren't left out.  It's social engineering for maximum consumption. 

I can't help but think that you might be right, but the whole keeping up charade is just so foreign to me. Why would I care what my neighbor drives? How big his house is or what he owns. I already have more things than I can ever use, more food than I can ever eat (access to it), more entertainment than I can ever consume and so on and so forth.

Maybe my wife and I inadvertently made a great choice when we moved into a small blue-collar working class area many years ago. Nobody has that much, so there is not much to keep up with. 

But I still don't get it. I have coworkers with mcmansions and they are welcome to them. It doesn't mean that I need to buy a mcmansion.. I think the US needs a "mental reset" ;)

BlueHouse

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2016, 04:30:48 AM »
I can understand falling for clever marketing, but there is one thing I really couldn't understand.

During a discussion about cars somebody mentioned that they could never buy a small car like the Honda Fit because "what would the neighbours think!". Is what the neighbours think really that important in Suburbia?

My opinion was "the smaller the better", it just drives the youngest to school and does the shopping. But alas I apparently never understood the importance of the people next door.
There is an extent to which I care what the neighbors or their (and my) guests think, but it's not my car. It's a bar somewhat above "don't be an eyesore."

Gather up the sticks that fall from the tree and take them around back to fuel the fire pit. Plant azaleas in front of the house. Pick up the litter that gets tossed in my yard. Rip out invasive weeds. Plant the right things to soak up water after a rainfall (so there aren't puddles full of mosquitos in the yard).

I'm in a middle / lower-middle class neighborhood. I thought the litterbugs were friends of next door's son, but his brother says they're random people who go to the liquor store a block over and then park on our street to drink their purchases.
I don't think it's unusual to want to fit into and share what are seen as characteristics of your group.  The pressure starts so early. Children in first and second grade want clothing similar to their friends or the right lunchbox of the right hairstyle. I remember back when I was in grammar school, I just had to have the cool notebook (trapper keeper).  By the following year, anyone seen with any type of binder was a loser, as cool kids only used spiral-bound notebooks.  My niece came home from her first day of kindergarten crying because her beloved penguin jacket was ridiculed as being "for babies".
It takes maturity and strength of character to rej ct these societal norms, and some people never even realize there is a choice. Even the Japanese have a saying about the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. The message is loud and clear from all directions: fit in or else.
And for anyone who ways it is all BS, let us know what it feels like when your kid is the one that other kids have identified as "different".

ender

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2016, 06:43:12 AM »
Are the people who complain about depending on Social Security has forced them to live off cat food the same people who think saving isn't essential, or are these two different groups of people who have never interacted with one another?

I think they are different times in their lives.

While MMM forums might have the 1% of savers, there are plenty of people who wisely save for their more normal retirements (think Bogleheads) throughout their whole lives.

There are quite a few people who realize at 50 or 55 or 60 that "oh crap we have no money and want to retire" and save several hundred thousand (or more) for a nicer retirement. If you listen to the Dave Ramsey show, there are a lot in this situation - but who are actively saving for retirement once they "get it." But plenty of people never get it and end up forced to retire and live off Social Security.

As pragmatic as some people think they are being with a "I'll never retire!" attitude, eventually they hit a point where reality either sets in or they go completely broke trying to maintain the facade.

Wilson Hall

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2016, 01:21:28 PM »


Maybe my wife and I inadvertently made a great choice when we moved into a small blue-collar working class area many years ago. Nobody has that much, so there is not much to keep up with. 


Yep. We live in a working/lower-middle-class neighborhood, and I sincerely believe this has kept my potential house-envy at bay, for the most part. Besides, by living here we have greater diversity of neighbors than we would in an upper-middle-class subdivision, plus nearly everyone is cool about looking out for each other's homes, loaning out tools, or sharing adult beverages after work.

When we got engaged, we each owned our own home. Rather than selling both and getting a big mortgage for a fancy house, we chose to sell my place, live in the one my husband had bought, and focus on getting the home paid off ASAP. It was once of the best decisions we ever made.

MoneyCat

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2016, 01:52:43 PM »
Millennials' attitudes about money are turning out to be kind of similar to people from the Great Depression. They still waste lots of money on eating out/drinking at bars and other social occasions, but they've learned to do a lot more free stuff and figure out ways to get essentials for free. Technology helps with this (especially piracy due to technology). As soon as someone figures out how to 3D print food, it's going to get really crazy.

jinga nation

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2016, 02:06:54 PM »
As soon as someone figures out how to 3D print food, it's going to get really crazy.
I use the original 3D print method. Good soil, fertilizer, water, air, and sunlight to print naturally.

dougules

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2016, 09:57:13 AM »
As soon as someone figures out how to 3D print food, it's going to get really crazy.

It's is called a garden. 

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MoneyCat

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2016, 12:42:30 PM »
As soon as someone figures out how to 3D print food, it's going to get really crazy.

It's is called a garden.

This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

Gerard

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2016, 05:20:42 PM »
This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

My girlfriend lives downtown-ish in one of the largest cities on the continent, in a one-bedroom apartment, and has enough garden space to take care of most of her veg needs through the summer and fall. She might not be the only one. :-)

MoneyCat

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2016, 09:57:19 AM »
This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

My girlfriend lives downtown-ish in one of the largest cities on the continent, in a one-bedroom apartment, and has enough garden space to take care of most of her veg needs through the summer and fall. She might not be the only one. :-)

She's lucky. Most people don't have that luxury.

Sdsailing

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2016, 06:11:06 PM »

Good grief. There are whole magazines devoted to apartment gardening.

BlueHouse

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2016, 06:53:17 PM »
This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

My girlfriend lives downtown-ish in one of the largest cities on the continent, in a one-bedroom apartment, and has enough garden space to take care of most of her veg needs through the summer and fall. She might not be the only one. :-)
cant grow anything edible. All neighborhood dogs piss and crap on anything green. If it came down to it, I guess I could eat the neighbor's dog.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2016, 06:56:51 PM »
As soon as someone figures out how to 3D print food, it's going to get really crazy.

It's is called a garden.

This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

The majority live in suburbs, I believe.

Gerard

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2016, 07:28:10 AM »
My girlfriend lives downtown-ish in one of the largest cities on the continent, in a one-bedroom apartment, and has enough garden space to take care of most of her veg needs through the summer and fall. She might not be the only one. :-)
She's lucky. Most people don't have that luxury.
[/quote]

I'm not sure how true this is. Most North American "urban" dwellers live in either suburbs or old suburbs or somewhere with either waste land (e.g., Detroit) or community gardens (e.g., Montreal). Sure, people may not be able to grow all the watermelons they want, but you can grow a lot of nutrient- or flavour- dense plants in a space barely bigger than what many people park their car on. And people who are inclined that way can make garden space (rather than parking, maybe) a priority when they move.

I do give people in Manhattan a bye on this, though. :-)

MoneyCat

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2016, 10:43:17 AM »
This might surprise you but the majority of the United States lives in cities.

My girlfriend lives downtown-ish in one of the largest cities on the continent, in a one-bedroom apartment, and has enough garden space to take care of most of her veg needs through the summer and fall. She might not be the only one. :-)
cant grow anything edible. All neighborhood dogs piss and crap on anything green. If it came down to it, I guess I could eat the neighbor's dog.

I'm not planting a vegetable garden this year, because the raised bed was too close to our fence and our neighbors' dogs kept pissing all over our vegetables. I'll have to build a new one further away from the fence for next season. I technically live in an urban area by population density although most people here consider us to be the suburbs.

nr

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2016, 05:18:12 PM »
The "desire" to save is at an all-time high yet actual savings remains near all-time lows?  Hahaha...  Oh, people kill me!  You could make a similar assertion:  The desire to be fit and in shape is at an all time high yet cases of obesity and type 2 diabetes are also at an all-time high. 

This article is in direct contrast with what I personally witness and other articles which say things like "Americans are eating out at restaurants more than ever before."  ...But they want to save money?

Americans' Spending on Dining Out Just Overtook Grocery Sales for the First Time Ever

Love it - as a restaurant & bar owner I can attest that eating out is at an all time high!

We serve a millennial heavy yuppie area.  Brand new construction building, newly paved streets, bars, restaurants, rooftops etc etc.

I am absolutely shocked at the recent reaction to us implementing a delivery service.  These young people (my age, 29 on average) are calling 2-3 times a week to order delivery - and we have an average price of $25 per entree!  It's insane - I love it!

That being said I hear it everyday - everyone wants to cut back on spending...as they're having their third $12 dirty martini and $22 penne alla vodka on a Monday night.

accountingteacher

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Re: "Americans donít like to buy stuff anymore..."
« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2016, 07:09:29 PM »
Congrats!  Sounds like you've mastered the Millionaire Next Door thing: getting rich off of other people looking rich!