Tuesday, December 21, 2010

(Frugal) Elizabeth Warren's Close-Up

From Politico.

"Elizabeth Warren is known for her frugality — after all, she's helping the Obama administration whip the financial industry back into shape. Still, her extreme thriftiness might surprise you. During an interview with Warren earlier this fall, Vogue contributing editor Rebecca Johnson was taken aback by one of Warren's money-saving habits.

"If Elizabeth Warren offers you a cup of tea, don't accept," Johnson writes in a profile (appearing in the magazine's January issue) of the woman President Obama has tapped to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In the feature, Johnson notes that while she too has been known to "pinch a penny," she was still surprised when Warren pulled an already-used tea bag out of her desk drawer.

Warren laughed off the moment in the magazine: "I just can't stand the waste of throwing out a tea bag after one use. It's like a knife in the gut for me."

Johnson, who spent about two days off and on with Warren in Washington and New York, tells POLITICO she found it "a bit surprising." "But that's just who she is," she said."


"Though when the 61-year-old grandmother and law professor was asked about her favorite labels, the native Oklahoman said she preferred to wear L.L. Bean. The answer didn't exactly impress Johnson and ultimately didn't make the final story.

"I thought, 'That's not going to work,'" Johnson told POLITICO.

"She doesn't care about fashion, so that was an awkward moment," Johnson said with a laugh. Then, more to the point, Johnson added: "She's just not going to spend a lot of money on clothes. That's just not in her values."

Still, Warren does seem to appreciate the value of looking sharp if you want nice things and can afford them. In the feature, she said she is "not against spending money on clothes ... as long as you are straight on your fixed expenses and you have put aside 20 percent in savings, go ahead and by those $400 shoes. That doesn't make you a bad person."

"I want to live my life with color," Warren says in the piece. "People who can't enjoy their money are missing the colors in life."

And while high fashion isn't her top priority, she isn't out of touch when it comes to designers who create it. When Warren ran into designer Isaac Mizrahi backstage at "The View," she squealed "like a teenager," according to Johnson."


"Even though she's not into A-list designers and is perhaps a surprising woman for Vogue to profile, Warren is "kind of your ideal subject," Johnson said.

"She's not motivated by money," she said. "She's pretty pristine and inspiring."


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