The following is from the Aug. 8, 2008, edition of The Arizona Republic. Marketing Professor Daniel Howard, chair of the Marketing Department in SMU's Cox School of Business, provided expertise for this story.

Frugal spenders buck downturn

By Martha Irvine
The Associated Press

Keri Rainsberger isn't rich. She works in the non-profit world for a relatively low-profit salary. Yet, as many Americans are scrimping for every penny, she hardly feels the pinch.

She still tithes 10 percent of her income to her church, even as other members have cut back. She rarely worries about rising gas and food prices. And she never bothers to balance her checkbook, because she doesn't come close to spending what she has.

"I live so far below my means that it doesn't really register," says Rainsberger, a 31-year-old Chicagoan. "I don't have to think about money."

How is this possible?

For starters, she has no car and commutes by bicycle each workday. She also has no mortgage payment and chooses to live in an "intentional community," a partly shared space where $775 a month covers everything, including utilities and meals. . .

Of course, the concept of sharing resources has been around since the beginning of time and is used today from Amish farms to the Israeli kibbutz. For low-income families, it's often simply a matter of survival.

But those who track consumer habits say a growing need to cut costs, along with a wish to be more environmentally and spiritually conscious, is causing more people to pool their resources, whether defined as an intentional community or not.

"The economy starts to tank. People get tired of it," says Daniel Howard, an expert in consumer research and behavior at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. "It's people saying, 'Let's get together and help one another.' And it works."

Read the full story.

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