Living within budget is in.
Big is bad.
Smaller is better.
Or are they? This seems to be the new philosophy that a growing number of people are subscribing to in response to the collapse of the costly, credit-based lifestyle.
Within weeks, driving a gargantuan Hummer, a sign of affluence, self-confidence and domination, had become a liability, not only financially, but also in the sense of being wiped out from the cultural pedestal.
As credit dried up, leaving thousands of people with hefty mortgages, car loans and overdrawn credit cards, anything that was excess had to be readied up for downsizing.
Living simply and reasonably, long seen as boring and antiquated, had gotten promoted to something millions are now aspiring to rediscover.
As with being overweight, shedding superfluous habits is going to take time and effort, but there are sure signs of people changing their mindset.
In car production, long tilted towards ballooning sizes in terms of engine and frame, it is ecology that is beginning to come to the foreground.
Even though the debates have been going on for years, it was not until financial issues forced decision-makers and leaders of opinion to change tack that they threw their weight behind smaller, energy-efficient automobiles.
Suddenly, small is equivalent to reasonable, because it guarantees massive savings on fuel, resources and infrastructure wear and tear.
It is friendly for the environment, too, in a way gigantic SUVs can only dream to be.
Large houses and mansions no longer sell that well, especially if they are inconveniently located.
People have started paying attention to how much space and comfort they really need and how much is surplus that the culture of reckless consumption and extra large materialism had primed them to crave.
If it is possible, they want to cut things down to size and tap into clever solutions, such as better, cheaper transportation to, within and from cities.
Savings rates, as calculated by a host of institutions, have shot up, spurred by fear of harsher times ahead, as well as a return to greater prudence.
Careful management of resources, rather than letting all passions loose, is back in the game, indicating people have paused to think about their financial situation.
One keynote speaker at a finance conference in Toronto spoke of coming back to the restraint thinking as a fundamental mental operation.
Conspicuous consumption is being questioned as a waste of energy and a bad life choice.
There are alternative groups that renounce material possessions completely, doing away with anything from wardrobes full of clothes to useless kitchenware to electronics such as a music player or a webcam.
In an old dichotomy, they wish to be rather than have.
Owning too much is a terrible drag on focus, in their opinion, and there is freedom in releasing the grip on what is not necessary.
Many who are not ready to relinquish their old lifestyle are at least trying to pick up what suits them most in this new philosophy of less is more.