Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be Thifty: How to Live Better for Less (book review)

As I mentioned a while back, I have been reading Be Thrifty:  How to Live Better for Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree (Workman Publishing Company).  It took me a few weeks to read and to digest and what follows is my review.  Please know that I received a copy of Be Thrifty at no cost to me to review here on Making Ends Meet.  Though the book was free, my opinions are 100% my own.

Initial thoughts:  I really liked the conversational tone of the book.  Throughout each chapter, there were contributions from real-life people, including many short comments by people who lived through the Great Depression.  I couldn't help but think that the book would be a great resource for a single Mom, since there was DIY how-to fixes for common household problems and ideas on what cuts of meat to buy to save the most money... not to mention lots of recipes for food.

Though I'm a frugal person by nature, I even learned a trick or two.  One good thing I pulled out of this book was how to make your own stock from scraps.  This is something that could save me money since I have to scan all my food labels to make sure there's no wheat inside.  The stock I usually buy is quite expensive off-sale and to be honest, I was not sure how it was even made!

What I think the whole point of the book was is that thrift doesn't have to mean cheap.  You can be thrifty without being a total scrooge!  Know when to spend money and when you can get away with making your own or buying a lesser expensive item instead. Being thrifty can be done in degrees and you are in control of just how thrifty you want to be.  I, myself, probably wouldn't make my own compost; however, if I wanted to learn, the directions were right inside.  

Another important point that I think that Be Thrifty: How to Live Better for Less brings out is that going green can be thrifty too!  There are lots of green living tips inside that do more than just save the Earth --- it saves green in your wallet.  One section of the book that caught my eye was about green cleaners and cheap alternative cleaners that you can make at home with things already in your kitchen cupboards.  Avoid the urge to buy cleaners for convenience sake and make your own at home.  I'm planning to try the vinegar trick for my toilets!

Finally, another point that struck home in this book is that when times are tough, people turn back toward thriftiness.  When life is going great and there's money to spend, convenience goods are selected over good old fashioned know-how.  What happens is that people like me don't know how to make their own cleaners because I was never taught by a thrifty frugalista.  When the good times are rolling and suddenly come to a stop, there's an information gap that must be bridged.  Be Thrifty: How to Live Better for Less does just that.  It fills in the blanks of information that doesn't get passed down through the generations because life was good and there was no need to be as cautious with money.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and loved reading the compilation pieces.  This would be a great book to buy for your own library as a reference book, or even to give as a wedding present because money is tight for a lot of newlyweds.

* In case you were wondering, yes, that is a real penny!  The sturdy cover for this book contains a real penny in the right hand corner of the cover.
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