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Mindful spending after the recession?

Bank customers use ATMs at a Chase Bank branch in New York City. Chase announced a new initiative meant to encourage personal finance literacy.

Image of Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution Is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell, and Live
Author: John Gerzema, Michael D'Antonio
Publisher: Jossey-Bass (2010)
Binding: Hardcover, 288 pages

Chase announced earlier today the launch of a new online initiative called "The Resource Center for Mindful Spending." It's meant to help consumers "take steps toward a better financial future."

What inspired Chase to emphasize financial literacy?

"They may see their job as getting us to trust them first," says Michael D'Antonio, co-author of "Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution Is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell, and Live."

In his research, D'Antonio found there are new ideas about consumption, driven by ideas beyond getting or having. Chase could be trying to keep up with new demand from consumers.

Chase is emphasizing the idea of "mindful spending" which D'Antonio says takes us back to a time before credit cards. 

"When you had a wad of bills in your pocket, you could feel it getting smaller," he says.

Could up-to-the-second updates on your finances could help keep spending -- and end of the month anxiety about credit card bills -- in check? "Information is a great cure; I think it's better than Xanex."

According to data Chase released along with news of the Mindful Spending Initiative, only 39 percent of Americans are spending the same or more than they did during the recession. D'Antonio says that seems accurate based on his research.

"I think people are taking pride in spending less," he says, pointing to examples of people getting their toasters repaired instead of buying new ones. "It's a great pleasure to be able to extend the life of something that you paid good money for.”

It's still tough to say if this rejection of hyper-consumerism is a long-term trend because a portion of the population, like young people, is unemployed or under-employed. It still remains to be seen if young people will maintain frugal ways when their incomes go up.

D'Antonio's latest work is "The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future."

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
Image of Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution Is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell, and Live
Author: John Gerzema, Michael D'Antonio
Publisher: Jossey-Bass (2010)
Binding: Hardcover, 288 pages
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