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Andrew Crawford
Scott Merrow
WRIT 1301
October 27, 2014
Thrifty Life
Money and happiness are directly related but how much spending is necessary to be
satisfied? In The Ables vs. the Binges, John verdant describes two familys spending habits. The
Ables go to many extremes to save a penny; they become known as frugal. The Binges have no
control over their lifestyle and cant stop spending on the toys that tempt most Americans.
Nearly everyone lies between the two families ideas on consumerism but shifts along that
spectrum are necessary. All families should align their spending habits with the frugality of the
Ables and avoid the indulgence of consumerism by the Binges.
Verdant created a scenario to show the similarities of the families as well as their vast
differences and states them generally as, Two familieseach having the same income and basic
housing situation in the same communitycan be used to illustrate the negative effects of
consumerism and the healthy effects of actively avoiding it (152). Verdant relates back to this
thesis throughout the essay as he explores the effects of consumerism on American society. He
glorifies every decision the Ables make because they benefit their family as well as the
community. The key aspect he debates over is the spending habits of each family. He states that
the Ables avoid macho toys and items to change their appearance whereas those products are
necessities for the Binges. The necessities for the Ables are high-quality objects that can last
them a lifetime (153). The family prefers to treat objects as though they have to last a lifetime.
Verdant also praises the Ables and despises the Binges for the way that each family treats their

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health. The Ables buy organic food and have a healthy diet, whereas the Binges never have
enough time to cook and are forced to eat out regularly (157). The Binges need to work more
hours to accommodate for their habits, which leads to less sleep and more stress. The author
leaves the reader to wonder which family has a stronger quality of life, amount of genuine
happiness and a stable economic situation.
Consumerism is harmful to our economy, environment, personal financial health, and the
common good of individuals. The spread of consumerism allows foreign manufacturers to
produce low quality products with cheap labor and export them to sell in the United States. As a
result, the American job market is reduced, damaging the economy. Verdant notes significant
consequences to the result of consumerism by using foreign made goods:
The nationwide loss of manufacturing jobs leads to a corresponding growth in
unemployment and the number of welfare recipients, less personal wealth, a
shrinking tax base, few public services, and greater public and private deb,
hopelessness for job seekers and a growing negative balance of trade.
("WhyOvercoming Consumerism?")
Consumerism, furthermore, creates negative externalities that affect the well-being of everyone.
The continuous cycle of buying a cheap product and replacing it swells landfills. Additionally,
the cycle gradually reduces the number of domestic jobs and creates more foreign producers.
When less people buy cheap foreign-made goods, domestic producers have more incentive to
manufacture the long-lasting quality products. While consumerism does damage to the economy,
the products made to satisfy those customers also damage the environment. The commodities are
made in countries where polluting isnt regulated, therefore it harms their lives and in the future

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will affect everyone ("WhyOvercoming Consumerism?"). Actively avoiding consumerism is

important to prevent mirroring the Binge lifestyle.
Eating home cooked organic meals is part of the anti-consumerism lifestyle of the Ables,
which helps keep them healthy. Buying food from the local farmers market ensures that the
produce will be safe. The mother of the Able family, Lorna, a Ph.D. microbiologist, proclaims,
One pesticide-induced lymphoma or breast cancer will eat up the savings from a lifetime of
buying cheap food (154). By eating organic food, people are guaranteed to get more essential
nutrients and have a balanced diet. Although the food may be more expensive, the benefits
outweigh the costs of eating potentially dangerous food. For example, if the substitute was fastfood, the consumer would feel the unhealthy effects as well as the cost to prepare the food, and
all convenience fees, adding up to more money than the expenses for the organic food. Not only
does eating organic food mean that a person is getting the benefits from it but it also implies that
the meal is home cooked. Studies over the value of a home cooked meal show that Eating
family dinner [is] associated with healthful dietary intake patterns, including more fruits and
vegetables, less fried food and soda [and] less saturated and trans fat (Berkey et al.). Also a
similar analysis shows that Family meals appear to play an important role in promoting positive
dietary intake among adolescents (Family Meal Patterns: Associations with Sociodemographic
Characteristics and Improved Dietary Intake among Adolescents. (Research.")). This research
says that family dinners provide necessary nutrients as well as promote healthful eating habits.
By choosing organic food, people are avoiding consumerism and benefiting themselves.
The benefits of the frugal life are much more than that of the life controlled by
materialism. Instead of buying new items or paying someone to install something, the Ables take
these obstacles as family projects and bond together to accomplish a goal. Spending time with

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others, saving money and getting satisfaction are beneficial to everyone. In my experience, fixing
a broken item or finding an innovation is much more rewarding compared to spending money to
get a new one. My friend and I put a budget together to buy a raft; we couldnt come up with
enough money to buy a new one so we decided to look for the raw materials. We went to Lowes
and bought some wood, looked all around the town until for some inner tubes until we found
WWW tire, a local tire repair shop, that repaired a few old inner tubes and gave them to us for
free. We were able to build the raft for fewer than 40 dollars; furthermore, using a homemade
raft was mentally rewarding. A life of based upon materialism makes people forget what it is
truly important to them, and in many cases that is family. Being frugal is a great way to be able
to bond as a family. Those who are frugal have fun without breaking the bank. Frugal families
often have game nights and movie nights where they sit together and engage in meaningful
conversation ("WhyOvercoming Consumerism?"). They also do family projects together, such as
tend to a garden or repair the house. Being frugal allows a person to enjoy everything in life that
isnt materialism.
Living with a frugal, anti-consumerism lifestyle fulfills the life of the individual, the
family and the world. People who have a mindset to be frugal strengthen everyone by not
contributing to consumerism, strengthen their personal health and strengthen their family
connections. Replicating the Ables lifestyle is important in achieving a higher sense of health
and happiness. To answer Verdants question, aligning families spending habits with the Ables
leads to a stronger quality of life, amount of genuine happiness and a stable economic situation.
For additional research, impulse buying could be a potential topic because many people have a
difficult time evading it, preventing them from seeing oneself as frugal.

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Works Cited
Berkey et al. "Arch Fam Med -- Family Dinner and Diet Quality Among Older Children and
Adolescents, March 2000, Gillman Et Al. 9 (3): 235." Arch Fam Med -- Family Dinner
and Diet Quality Among Older Children and Adolescents, March 2000, Gillman, Et Al.
9 (3): 235. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
"Family Meal Patterns: Associations with Sociodemographic Characteristics and Improved
Dietary Intake Among Adolescents. (Research.)" Journal of the American Dietetic
Association, March 2003, Mar. 2003. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Verdant, John. The Ables vs. the Binges. Maasik, Sonia, and J. Solomon Fisher. Signs of Life
in the U.S.A.: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St.
Martins, 2012. Print.
Verdant, John. "WhyOvercoming Consumerism?" How Consumerism Affects Society, Our
Economy and the Environment. John Verdant, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.