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Personal Growth

Save Money and Find God With the New Economic Puritanism

Are you looking for new and innovative ways to integrate austerity into your new recession-conscious lifestyle? Boil your dental floss and use it again and again. Accessorize with hand-me-downs. Ride a bike. Grow your own vegetables. Don’t buy stuff.

The proceeding recommendations all come out of a growing body of thinking that predicts the recession will be good for us on an ideological level. This camp is not exclusively composed of raggedy dumpster divers who thought capitalism was the root of all evil in the first place—though they are certainly relishing this moment—but also from Christians and back-to-roots practicalists who get teary-eyed at the mention of everything from John Winthrop to the Maytag man.

Getting by with less should not be as antithetical to the developed world as selling abstinence to the horny. (In fact, with no jobs, Americans have a golden opportunity to practice their diurnal dalliance and catch up with the rest of the world in that department.) The logic of the new Puritanism is actually quite simple. Get by with less now to have more later. And the democratic extension of this is crucial. There is no way for class mobility, that most American of concepts, to survive unless the have not’s learn to save. Spending beyond their means just gives the have not’s more not, and the have’s more exclusivity.

Any more suggestions for going Puritanical? Post them below or mail them to


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