My husband was taking a break at work last night when he picked up a magazine at the facility he was cleaning. It was a copy of our local newspaper’s newest publication: Distinctly Northwest – Sophisticated Living. The magazine is geared toward the upper class, and includes articles on upscale living.

After flipping through the magazine, and then thinking for a while, my husband came to a conclusion. The newspaper got it wrong. The newest trend isn’t toward upscale living. It’s toward simple and frugal living.

We had this conversation yesterday morning, and he told me his reasoning. He sees, and blogs similar to this one, growing by leaps and bounds. Every time we turn around, there’s a new article on simple living, frugality, or the minimalist lifestyle. I have to admit he’s right.

In fact, ever since I wrote why the minimalist lifestyle appeals to me almost two months ago, I get at least one hit a day from a google search for “minimalist lifestyle”. Often I get many more. In fact, I would say “minimalist lifestyle” is second only to “being frugal” when it comes to search terms that lead people to this blog.

Beyond that, “going green” is a big social issue right now: not wasting, not overfilling our landfills, minimizing the stuff we buy, because it’s bad for the environment. Al Gore is pushing for us to take care of the environment with his popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth. (We can debate what I think about that another day…this post is about societal trends). What it boils down to is that there is tremendous social pressure to be frugal with our environment.

Add to that the fear of an impending recession, and people are watching what they spend. Housing prices are falling, people are losing their homes, and nobody knows exactly what the economy will do next. I think people from the lower class all the way up to the upper crust are beginning to keep a careful eye on what they spend, how they spend, and the impact it has on the world around them.

Personally, I’m all for the new trend. I’m not excited about an economy that’s tanking, but I think it’s high time people realized that spending more than they earn is a bad idea. I realize this is bad news for advertisers, because they will have to work harder to get people to buy unnecessary things.

What I would love to see is more publications on frugal living, financial responsibility, or anything that says life is about more than spending money. It seems to me that people are starting to figure out that money isn’t what makes the world go round. Perhaps someday the newspaper will catch on.

What do you think? Is frugal living the new trend? Or are we still a society that revels in upscale living (or wanna-be upscale living)?