Consumers changing spending habits: No big deal


An article in the New York Times this weekend detailed some of the changes consumers are making in their spending habits in light of tighter economic times. But I'm not feeling sorry for Americans. We are one of the richest countries in the world, and even our "poor" have luxuries beyond what could be imagined in many countries.

There is really no hardship when consumers are "forced" to eat at home instead of restaurants or to buy generic foods instead of name brands. It's not a big deal when they have to cut back on expensive meat, in favor of more "fillers" in their meals like pasta or inexpensive vegetables. We're not malnourished, and buying name brands is not our God-given right.

I'm not saying that rising food costs are a good thing. Of course no one wants to pay more, and certain staples are getting ridiculously expensive. But I am saying that a little more strategic budgeting and cost-saving isn't a hardship. Eating in more and going for economical choices over convenient ones is not a bad thing either.

As consumers, we've been spoiled for a long time. Low prices on many goods allowed us to be a bit careless with our money. Now many are in a position in which they have to be more selective and thrifty. Sure, it's more fun to spend without looking at the price tag. But as consumers, we'll weather this storm just fine and find new habits to replace the old in an ever-changing economy.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.