The New Consumer—The Treasure Hunters

Everyone is a treasure hunter, regardless of gender, family status, age, cultural background, or income. Here are just a few who are featured in the book:
Lauren James

Lauren James

  • Single, age thirty
  • Lauren lives alone in an apartment in Chicago
  • She worries about ending up as a lonely "bag lady"
  • She trades up on personal care items, apparel, and restaurants
  • She trades down on furniture, handbags, and food for home
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Alice and Ben Nelson and family

  • Suburban couple, mid-forties, three kids
  • Ben works as a full-time engineer and part-time hair stylist
  • Alice is a part-time nurse
  • The Nelsons live in a suburban town and take in about $85,000 annually
  • They traded up on a flat-screen television
  • They opted out of a family vacation to afford the TV
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Jim and Anne Freedman

  • Suburban couple, mid-fifties, empty-nesters
  • Jim was making a seven-figure income until he lost his business after 9/11
  • Anne's $42,000 annual income as a teacher could not sustain them
  • They sold their house and many of their possessions
  • They have learned how to treasure hunt in order to make ends meet
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Hilda, Franck, Johanna, and Andreas Schmidt

  • German family living near Munich
  • Hilda is a stay-at-home mom; Franck is a salesman
  • Hilda shops at hard-discount stores for most goods
  • She stockpiles commodities in the basement storeroom to stretch the family's budget
  • The Schimdts rarely splurge and Hilda longs for an occasional night out on the town
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Arnold and Molly Piso

  • Urban couple in their early thirties
  • Arnold is a banker and self-proclaimed skinflint
  • Molly is a publicist and a would-be spendthrift
  • They enter every expenditure into a spreadsheet
  • They traded up on a leather couch, even though it doesn't fit into their current apartment, because it was a great deal
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Masako Tanaka

  • A Japanese "office lady," early twenties
  • Masako lives at home with her parents
  • She earns a healthy income and has few expenses
  • She saves almost nothing because she expects her future husband to have money
  • She trades up on gifts she buys while traveling abroad
  • She does not participate at all in many categories
Alice and Ben Nelson and their three kids

Sarah, Rick, Samantha, Carly, and Emily Montfort

  • Suburban family with school-age children
  • They recently traded up to a new neighborhood in order to gain access to better schools
  • They trade down in almost every category in order to pay the mortgage and the kids' expenses
  • Rick spends disproportionately on poker and golf
  • Sarah sometimes splurges on a shopping day out with friends
  • They look forward to a small inheritance that will help pay off debt